Today was the first winter day that truly chilled my bones. The air outside had ice in it during my morning run and the house did not seem to get warm.

Into this chill dropped Jaimie Monohan, through an article in Cornell Alumni Magazine.

A Cornell alum (that’s how I found her story), Jaimie swims in open water all over the world: Iceland, New Zealand, Antarctica.

Yes, Antarctica. She’s found a special love for the new sport of winter swimming and a special passion for facing her fears with plunges in cold water.

I get it. For several summers now, I’ve swum in Lake Cayuga up to several times a week, and it’s exhilarating. The water is not just cold, it’s several layers and textures of temperature. You feel your way forward, glimpsing only a water-level view of the shore and the rising sun. You lose track of your swimming companions—your pod—but you count each other when you meet up at various landmarks.

I rode my bike to these pre-dawn swims, nervous in the dark on the way there, and thrilled on the way back. Cold, open water really does pull you out of your comfortable reality. On weekdays, I would arrive at my desk job office feeling lit, knowing I’d done something a little dangerous before breakfast.

So, Jaimie, I get it. I just don’t understand how you tolerate hours (up to 16 or even 30 at a time!?) in cold water, without a wet suit. That’s another level of danger, and you seem to live for more.

My swim cap is off to you.

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