Quandary: Taking a dip in Dillon Reservoir | SummitDaily.com

Quandary: Taking a dip in Dillon Reservoir

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Quandary, an old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to any question about life, love and laws in the High Country. Questions? email quandary@summitdaily.com

Dear Quandary,

I saw so many people in the water at Lake Dillon yesterday, is it OK to swim there now?


Polar Bear Bob

What just because you saw 700 people take the plunge yesterday, you assume you can too? If 700 people jumped off a bridge would you? Oh that’s right, this is Summit. You probably would — with a snowboard strapped to your feet and a GoPro on your chest.

Well, that’s none of my business, but a dip in Lake Dillon is problematic. You could try to swim in Denver’s water supply, but it wouldn’t end particularly well for you. Not only is swimming in the lake still not allowed, it’s also really freaking cold. Even this old goat isn’t too fond of laps in Dillon and I have a lovely coat, you bare-skinned bohemians are just not equipped for that kind of dip. Temperatures fluctuate with the weather obviously, but even in the heat of summer, surface temperatures are usually in the low-60s. I know that doesn’t sound that bad, but keep in mind it gets colder the deeper you go, and even the 60s is cold enough to trigger the mammalian dive reflex — basically your body goes into survival mode, slowing everything down and trying to keep your insides as warm as possible. This means as soon as you hit the water your breath gets zapped out of you, your pulse slows down and slowly but surely it gets a lot harder to even feel your limbs. While, I’m sure you can burn a lot of calories this way (and there’s probably already some fad exercise program built on it), you can also lose a lot of extremities if you stay in too long.

Now, the rules on the lake have relaxed a little over the years, and things like windsurfing are now allowed, but only with a full-body dry or wetsuit. I know all you locals are overachievers and the yoga classes have been going on all summer on stand-up paddleboards on the water (which do not require a wetsuit), but before you start your next Ultimate tourney, remember if your disc hits the lake, you are out of luck. According to the lake’s rules and regulations, you are still not allowed to make any intentional contact with the water, meaning a diving catch is a play that can land you in a lot of hot water (get it? It’s hot water because it’s cold water — oh, the irony). Denver Water cites both cold temperatures and concerns over water quality as reasons you are not allowed to get up close and personal with the lake.

I know what you’re thinking, “but there were so many people in the water yesterday, why did they get to swim?” Simple, they’re special and you’re not. Harsh I know, but it’s also reality. You see, the 700 freaks that hit the water yesterday were all there as part of the The 106˚ West Triathlon and they received special permission to doggie paddle their way to greatness. These gluttons for punishment had to don wetsuits for the chance to go 1.2 miles along the slightly-short-of-icy shoreline. And how were these future Frozen Dead Guys competitors rewarded? With a 56-mile bike ride followed by a 13.1 mile run to finish the race. But I’m sure the ice bath and burning calves were worth it to finish the highest tri in the country and dip their floaties in the mighty reservoir. After all, this is Summit and if you aren’t living on the edge, you aren’t living at all.

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