It’s a running joke in my family that the moment our pool temperature drops below 80 degrees, I will refuse to dip a toe in it. I’ve never been one of those people who eases myself into cool water, gasping the whole way with my teeth chattering. No way, no how.

That’s why when I told my husband I was going to go to Warm Mineral Springs on what, so far, was the coldest day of the year here, he was more than a little skeptical that I would actually go in the water.

It had been in the low 40s the night before I headed out to North Port, and when I arrived there, it was still in the 50s. I brought along with me, not only the big sweatshirt I was wearing, but an old, fleece bathrobe. I figured, if I had to, I would bolt out of the water and immediately throw it on my body.

That last resort turned out to be completely unnecessary, thank goodness. I’m no fashion maven, but even I may have been embarrassed by that.

I paid at the ticket window, put my swim suit on in the locker room and headed out to the Springs in my long sweatshirt. After putting my towel and bathrobe across a chair, ready to be picked up in an instant, I did my typical toe dip into the water. To my surprise, and relief, it did indeed feel warm, so I continued to venture in.

Believe it or not, I made it all the way to my shoulders with nary a gasp. In the cold air, the 85 degree water felt like a cozy blanket around my body, and I began to swim around the outer edge of the “lake.”

Even though the day was chilly, there were still about 50 people there. A lifeguard told me that on a typical day, there are usually around 200 or more swimmers, but the space is so big, it doesn’t feel crowded.

This is the only warm water mineral spring in the state of Florida, and is fed from a vent 207 feet below the surface of the water, which discharges an estimated 20,000,000 U.S. gallons of warm, mineralized water a day. Though there are also a couple of freshwater springs that feed into Warm Mineral Springs, the majority of the water there is salt water, which makes for easy floating.

Besides the heat of the water, many visitors to the springs come to take advantage of the more than 51 minerals contained in the water. Calcium, magnesium, strontium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, silica, sulphur, nitrogen, fluoride and chlorides are just some of the minerals with healing properties that are found in it.

While I was floating around, I met Angela, a 17-year-old from the Philadelphia area, who was visiting the springs with her mother and younger sister. She told me that three years ago, her sister had severe eczema and her mother began bringing her to Warm Mineral Springs to soak in the water.

Today, her sister’s skin condition has completely healed.

All I know is that on the morning I went to the springs, I had forgotten to put lotion on my skin after my shower, so I noticed that my legs looked kind of ashy as I was changing into my swim suit. After I emerged from the healing waters, no more dry skin—and more importantly for me, no chill bumps.

Debbie Flessner writes the Live Like a Tourist column for the Sun newspapers. You may contact her at dj@flessner.net.

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