We planned an easy walk through the pine woods of the Staz from Pontresina to St. Moritz. On the way we would stop at Lej de Staz (Lej = Lake in German) and I would enjoy a swim surrounded by the beautiful Engadine mountains.
Achtung! Somewhere I’d read that the water was a constant 20ºC., I assumed the lake was fed by a warm spring. The day was chilly, overnight it had snowed lightly and the air temperature was a few degrees above freezing. I didn’t bother to test the water, such was my confidence in the tourist bumph I’d read.
Surrounded by pine forests the lake was an inviting body of water ideal for an autumn swim. Families were lighting fires cooking fat bratwürsts, kids were running around hiding in the reeds. The seductive terrace of the Hotel de Staz beckoned for a post swim glüwhein.
The bitter cold took hold as I stepped in to the water off the pontoon. I had totally misread the conditions and later I asked the barman who told me the water was at 8º. Yikes! The water was so cold I couldn’t keep my head under for more than a few seconds. If I’d known I would have gone in very very slowly. Launching myself off the bottom rung of the rickety ladder I’d expected to touch the bottom but no such luck. I went under immediately and came up spluttering with a massive head cold. What I would have done for that neoprene ginge cap!
I survived a miserable 7 minutes. Lesson learnt. I will be training for cold water with not much option of backing out throughout the winter. It may be a while before I’ll be joining the Ice Mile club.