Swimmers take steps to protect themselves in frigid conditions

Loggerhead Aquatics team prepare for cold weather

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The winter wallop from "Old Man Winter" has the Jacksonville area making adjustments to its daily routine, but for swimmers, the dip in temperatures can easily lead to a trip to the hospital if they're not careful.

The Loggerhead Aquatics team in Julington Creek is taking steps to protect themselves during the frigid conditions.

Mateo Ramirez, 11, is part of the team.

"On Friday it was colder, so I forgot. I was here without clothes so now it's like nothing to me," Mateo said.

Assistant Head Coach Jennifer Ferguson said the arctic blast sweeping the nation and her Julington Creek pool makes for some extra icy exercise.

"We just do our best to make sure that they bring plenty of towels and warm clothing, and we have them place it near the pool so once they get out, they can wrap up right away," Ferguson said.

For mother Cindy Fentress, the cold conditions bring an added layer of concern for her 9-year-old son, Grant.

"He had two towels versus usually one because he likes to wrap up," Fentress said. "Sweatpants and usually boots or shoes with fur in them and a hat, definitely a hat because their hair is so cold. Their hair is so wet and it's cold and you know you lose most of your heat through your head."

When temperatures dip into the teens and mid-20's, experts say hypothermia can set in for anyone with exposed skin, like swimmers, within 30-40 minutes and frostbite within an hour.

With more brutal workouts and weather ahead, Mateo said he will pack on a few more layers before his next practice.

The Loggerhead Aquatics Team is scheduled to practice the rest of this week despite the lower temperatures being forecasted later this week.

Many of the swimmers said the silver lining in it all is that the pool is heated at a cozy 84 degrees.

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