Swim the Loop: what you need to know
To keep the loop safe and enjoyable for all, there are a few features of this beach and swim area that you should also know. Check out the list below.
...about swimming here at gyro
...about open water generally
The following points are intended to help you have an enjoyable open water swim at the Gyro Swim Loop, even if it is your first time:
- Swimming the Gyro Swim Loop is very safe. Based on the long sandy shelf on which the Loop sits, the depth of the water on the whole loop is such that, if you are of even average adult height, you can easily stand with your head above water anywhere along the swim course for most of the swim season. The only exception is at the peak of spring run off, which can increase the total depth as much as 12-24 inches. There is no current, and if wind or wave is present, they are both almost always onshore.
- Other than the concrete anchors holding down the marker buoys, there are no hazards to deal with in the Loop–no sharp rocks, no weeds, no dangerous wildlife, no currents, no boat traffic. Occasional debris can be seen for a few days at the height of spring runoff, both all of this quickly beaches itself. Occasional stand-up paddle boards, and kayakers do occasionally course nearby, but they are very likely to see you before you see them, and they will work to avoid you.
- It is usually a good idea to start and finish your swim at the Gyro Swim Loop before 9 AM, for at least four reasons: The new parking lot at Boyce-Gyro Beach Park requires paid parking starting at 9 AM; The beach crowd does not usually start filling up the beach and the parking lot until at least late morning; boat traffic, which is light in this area anyway because of the shallowness of the water and the multiple buoys, is all but non existent between 6-9AM (water-skiers tend to prefer to avoid areas with buoys); and finally, the lake is usually calmest early in the morning.
- Since lake temperatures (usually between 15°C and 24°C) are always cooler than most public pools (27°C+) during the swim season, you should strongly consider wearing a wetsuit for most of the outdoor swim season.
- With every swim, you should also spend some time acclimatizing to the cold water, since body core temperatures are about 20°C higher. By walking in slowly, splashing some lake water on your face and neck, you can avoid the “cold shock response” (increased heart rate and breathing rate, often with increased anxiety as well). Try an easy 300m swim (the parallel-to-shore swim from the 500m buoy to the 0m buoy) to get used to the cold on your head, hands, and feet, to warm up the water that enters your wetsuit, and to establish your breathing rhythm.
- When you are finished your swim, carry some water in your swim cap to wash the sand off your feet when getting back into your footwear and street clothes.
- There is a changing room with toilets and sinks available from 6AM daily during the summer at the north entrance of Boyce Gyro beach, nearest the parking lot. Do not wash sand down the sinks!
- If you are cold after a swim, get out of your wet swimming gear as soon as you able to, dry yourself, and put on some warm clothes. Body core temperatures can continue to drop after cold exposure greater than 30 minutes, so it is important stop the conductive heat loss associated with continuing contact with cool water. There are also several coffee shops nearby to purchase a warm beverage 7 days a week.
Some general points about swimming in open water:
- There are many differences swimming in open water vs. swimming in a pool.
- Even accomplished pool swimmers may commonly find themselves overwhelmed by new variables that they are unfamiliar with, which may cause an increased and somewhat unexpected anxiety level while swimming in open water.
- The more open water swimming variables you are unfamiliar with, the more anxious you may feel, and taken together, these can upend your comfort swimming in any open water setting.
- New swimming skills to learn in open water include swimming in a restrictive wetsuit, and learning how to sight in order to swim in a straight line.
- More confidence in your own swimming abilities is generally required, as there is no lifeguard nearby, or a lane rope or a pool edge anywhere.
- Differences in the water are noticeable, including colder water, wavier conditions, a different taste to open water, more limited visibility and an inability to see the bottom.
- New variables need to be understood, including what is in the water (such as fish, plants, insects and waterfowl), and what is on the water (such as floating debris, driftwood, glare from the sun, and watercraft).
- Swimming with other swimmers tends to be more chaotic, since there are no lanes to keep swimmers from colliding with each other. For some, swimming in a crowd can be intimidating and frightening, especially when lots of body contact can occur.
- Swimming in a wetsuit may be a new experience that can add another source of stress. You may feel restrictions in your abilities to breathe due to the tightness of the wetsuit over your chest; you may feel some restriction of your shoulder movements that can impede your stroke reach and accelerate fatigue; and if the wetsuit is not built for swimming, or is ill-fitting, you may not get the thermal benefit that you may need in colder water.