Ted Talks: Take the Plunge

By Ted Spiker

When one of my good friends recently called me, he opened with this: “I think I got it.”

For years, we’ve talked about signing up for some kind of physical challenge, but we just never found the right one. We wanted it to be a destination event, we wanted it to be something that didn’t feel too easy or too impossible, we wanted it to be a unique experience that would keep us more focused on training and less focused on pudding.

See, I went through a period of about four or five years where I signed up for events that I knew would test my burrito-fueled body’s limits. I struggled through (yet still completed) a marathon, two muddy obstacle course races, and an Ironman. After that, my desire to push really hard leveled off, and I haven’t done anything that felt epic to me in almost a decade.

So when my buddy told me he thought he found the one, I listened.

“It’s a 9-mile swimming relay across Lake Tahoe with six people,” he said.

I’m a decent-yet-slow swimmer, so the distance sounded doable, and it sounded like a fun event to do in the summer of 2023. But there was a catch.

The water temperature could be anywhere from 52 to 62 degrees, he said. No wetsuits.

Now, I don’t usually mind cold stuff, but I typically prefer it to come in the form of ice cream or a blast of AC after sweating like a waterfall after a 7-minute walk to my UF office.

Yet, this sounded doable. Uncomfortable, yes. But manageable? I think so.

I immediately got excited, and my friend and I talked about recruiting our sons to be on the relay as a fun father-son experience. When I told my family about it, they all thought it was a cool idea—until they heard the water temperature.

I reasoned that I could handle the cold plunge at Gainesville Health & Fitness, and with the event, I’d be moving to help combat the cold. (My wife gently asked if I still wore water booties in the cold plunge. The toes can’t take it!)

It’s still early, and I don’t know if my friend and I will make the commitment to go for it, but for the first time in a long time, I feel excited to tackle something that’s hard, that’s semi- scary, and that challenges me to go to places—physically and mentally—where I’ve never been before!

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