Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wetsuit Adventures

This coming weekend I will be swimming a 1.5K race with my sister. It’s along the north shore of Lake Erie and, based on the current water temps, I’m guessing I’ll be pulling on my new wetsuit for a second time in two weeks.

This past Saturday, Doug and I decided to head to our local open water swimming hole. I wanted to make sure that I could a) swim 1.5k in open water and b) do it in a wetsuit. A wetsuit, I discovered adds buoyancy but also adds a considerable amount of weight on the arms. I was surprised how quickly my arms got tired during the 750m triathlon swim. So I wanted to see if I actually had the strength to do 1500m.

Getting the damn thing on, I am happy to report, is much less of an ordeal than it was in the change room the day that I bought it. In no time were suited up and doing the wetsuit walk to the canal bank. He jumped and I slipped into the water without even a gasp as the water temperature.

We swam about 300m and then stopped to see how far we had swum.

Stopping mid swim was a bit of a mistake. Something shifted when I went from a swimming position to a bobbing upright in the water position and the neck of the wetsuit was suddenly very tight around my throat. Not tight enough to cut off my airway but tight enough to make me feel like it did which, of course, leads to an immediate feeling of panic.

I flipped onto my back and said “you’re FINE!” to myself. It worked like a charm because a) I tend to listen to the stern voice in my head and b) flipping onto my back took the pressure off my throat. I resumed the upright bobbing in the water position and my throat felt constricted again. I flipped onto my back a second time and made a plan. “You will flip directly over to your stomach and start swimming, that way you won’t feel constricted. Oh, and you’re FINE!!”

I was perfectly fine but I quickly realized that, just because swimming in a wetsuit went well during the triathlon doesn’t mean that I was given a free pass. Apparently the race gods were kind to me but I will still need to have a few panicky moments in the open water in a wetsuit before the adjustment period is over.


We swam some more and I managed to get 1500m in. But, instead of my usual post-swim desire to go just a few more hundred metres, I was more than happy to heave myself on to the dock and yank that wetsuit zipper down. In fact, I wanted nothing more than to pull the thing off, hop back in and swim the distance again in my bathing suit.

As you might imagine, I am now feeling a pretty major desire to get a few more wetsuit swims in before this Sunday’s race.

I’ll let you picture the look on my face when my sister said “I heard that they are going to cancel the race if the waves are more than 1 metre high”.

Waves?!?!? Who said anything about waves?!?!

1 comment:

  1. Ah, waves... I've never been in a race/swim with rough water (although there's one I really want to do which routinely is quite challenging). The two ocean races I've done, however, had 1-2 foot seas. It's kind of a strange experience. Suddenly, swimming becomes much more of a 3D event as the water under you carries you up and down. If there's also chop, you'll occasionally put your recovering hand straight into a wave, which is odd. The biggest new challenge is sighting; it's impossible at the bottom of a trough and super-easy at the crest. I ended up sighting more often.

    You're going to have so much fun!