Can anyone imagine ocean swimming every morning, all year, even if the ocean one swims in can get to 30 degrees and the air to 18 degrees, and then enjoy it? Enjoy it so much that it becomes the organizing event of the day, and then to initiate others into this transformative experience? We are amazing creatures, and with a bit of practice and preparation we really can do amazing things.
Patricia has been at this for a while now, and has some experience with what works. She recently had a couple of bouts of COVID, which impacted her stamina. There is also the challenge of going through extreme temperature shifts. She found that taking the Cir¹ Flow supplement from SRW Laboratories improved her stamina, and especially her ability to bounce back from the cold.
How old are you?
Where are you from and where are you based now?
Texas born and bred, in a small border town (Brownsville), on the southernmost tip of the state, touching Mexico. I currently live between the North Fork of Long Island, Greece, and New York. Texas in spirit.
You do cold-water swimming. Tell us how you got into that.
I didn’t set out to be a winter swimmer, but I did set out to swim every day. Which means, when winter got here (here being the North Fork of Long Island), my commitment had to ratchet up. I couldn’t not do it. The first year, my virtual swim buddy and I made a commitment to stay in the water until Thanksgiving, and when we achieved that, Christmas, and then February, and once you’re past February you might as well keep going until summer. In the early days, I was extremely present to the cold — it literally does take your breath away and wipe away any other thought in your brain (which I really like). There were days that I over-stayed and had to run home on ice-block feet. But I’ve learned to be more skillful. Over time, the cold is the least interesting sensation. You begin to love winter water because it asks more of you.
Last time I talked to AGEIST about my winter swimming, I was still in my first year of my everyday apprenticeship to water. I’m now more than 1450+ morning swims in. Coldest swim: 30 degrees inside the water, 18 degrees outside.
What benefits do you feel from your cold-water swimming?
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that winter swimming has recalibrated my entire being. I have developed my own approach and methodology, which I share with others. Winter water has brought me the most wonderful assortment of brave, curious, courageous people who have asked me to walk them into the water. Cold water conjures deep, primal, impossible-feeling fear, but on the other side of it awaits joy in equal measure. I have witnessed people move from total gripping to total exuberance, almost as if they are meeting themselves for the first time.
“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that winter swimming has recalibrated my entire being”
One of the biggest changes for me is stamina. Mental and physical. My water practice has become my holding space for expanding what the body knows, inner quiet, presence only to water and breath. I’ve learned that my body can go places that my mind might not have imagined. There is something about placing a goal or ritual in your body. That’s what time (and repetition) does. And that’s where the magic lies.
I film my swims every morning; not because I like to see myself, but because I like to see all the waters I’ve been in — over time. I look back on a blizzard swim and I think, “Right, I can do that.” When I hit a storm moment like that in my life, I can almost feel it as a state of water — I tell myself, “It’s ok, breathe, slow everything down, get in your body, one stroke, two strokes, three strokes…”
You’ve been testing SRW supplements. Tell us about the products that you’ve been trying.
Yes, I’ve been trying Cir¹ Flow, a supplement for circulatory flow and the heart. I started taking Cir¹ in February, the beginning of the coldest days, curious to see how it might support my winter swimming practice. I experience extreme changes in temperature on any given winter swim day. My hands and feet are the first to go (overly cold), and once they go the swim is over. I was interested in how Cir¹ might help with recovery as well as energy conservation. Cold-water swimming, especially if you stay a while, uses a lot of physical and mental energy.
What results have you seen?
Within about two weeks of taking Cir¹, I noticed that recovery from my cold-water swims seemed more efficient. Heartier. After a few months, I didn’t seem to be experiencing the post-swim exhaustion/depletion as much. My feet and hands, remarkably, were recovering faster, which means that I had more energy for everything else in my day.
I also noticed an overall vitality boost. I had COVID twice, in rapid succession, in the months prior to trying Cir¹. Regaining strength seemed slow. I just couldn’t seem to get over the hump of feeling depleted in some way. After the first few weeks of Cir¹, I felt I was finally gaining stamina. In spring, I added running and other outdoor training back into my routine. We are well into summer now. I feel more “solid” in my cardio. A sense of holding steady at full power.
Would you recommend SRW to others?
Absolutely. Cir¹ opened a new level of considerations for me. As wellness focused as I am, I had never thought about my vascular system and circulatory health. Not as something that I could impact in a preventative way. I now think of it as fine-tuning for longevity.
Receive 20% off all SRW products, including Cir¹ Flow, here with code “AGEIST20”.
“As wellness focused as I am, I had never thought about my vascular system and circulatory health”
What has your relationship with health and wellness been like throughout your life?
It might be at its healthiest now… it’s taken some wide turns. As a kid, I was very overweight; i.e., at 13 years old, I was 5’4” and about 180 pounds. I preferred books to anything physical. Kids can be cruel…let’s say I was never picked on any phys-ed team. The turning point came when a gaggle of boys my age (awkward pre-teens) called out Miss Piggy when I walked by. I made a promise right there… that will never happen again.
In about six months I dropped 70 pounds (I hit my growth spurt at the same time), not necessarily in the healthiest of ways. I had such a disconnection between my body image and reality, especially after being treated as a fat person most of my childhood. My mom enrolled me in local modeling class — to learn how to be in my body. All the way into my 20s, it was mostly calories, cardio, control. There was so much bad information.
Skip forward to the present. I’m in a much more generous place with myself and wellbeing. I like to feel strong and clear — and well-fed. My focus is on eating in a way that is nutrient-rich, fresh as possible, satisfying, and joyful.
And I move a lot and spend a lot of time outside. We live near many local farm stands on the North Fork, such as IandMe farm, which is organic and biodynamic. Everything that comes from Mimi’s farm is extra delicious and alive. Rather than control, I think choice. Choose your food. Choose everything. It’s far more empowering.
What are your wellness rituals for feeling your best?
Everyday rituals are powerful. For me, it’s my morning swim. It’s my connection to nature, fitness, self-care, resilience training, and happy place all rolled up into one. I started open-water swimming when I was living in Greece, as part of a creative residency. I started out with a count of 100 strokes, telling myself that each day all I had to do was do a little better than the day before. And pay attention. Soon, I outgrew my first cove and moved to large, expansive open waters.
Morning swim ritual
Begin with 100 strokes.
Every day, better than the day before.
A big part of my water practice is what I call waking-to-water™. Our cells physiologically reset themselves every night, so we literally wake up as different people, with different thoughts and priorities than the day before. It’s this fresh self I want to take into the water each day. I never check my phone or social media before a swim. I don’t speak much either. This is my way of making space for something new to happen. A swim is like a good journey — anything or nothing can happen. When I get back, I write.
Other wellbeing rituals
After meals walking.
Telling my friends what I appreciate about them.
Creating … changes the energy immediately.
What are your 3 life non-negotiables?
My people (friends, co-creators, people who get and inspire me).
Receive 20% off all SRW products, including Cir¹ Flow, here with code “AGEIST20”.
The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.