Monday, July 11, 2011

Swimming with a wetsuit?

Yes, I know it's a little unbelievable. I've been a swimmer for 20 years and I've never even tried on a wetsuit, let alone swim with one! However, I've been thinking about trying one out for several months now, since I've started swimming 4-5 days a week again and really working on increasing my endurance for long distances. And since that's been going so well, I've been thinking about doing a long distance open water race. And there's one coming up! At Lake Tahoe Open Water Swim. Hence the need for a wetsuit, because that lake is frikkin freezing! They're offering a 1/2 mile, 1 and 2 mile distance swim on Aug. 13th and I was leaning toward the one-miler. I didn't think it would be such a good idea to try out a new race AND a wetsuit on the same day, so I went with the fam up to Stampede to try one out. This one is Kevin's and it seemed to fit okay, although I felt a little claustrophobic once I was all zipped in. And hot! And then I couldn't stop laughing once I got in- because of the bouncy of the suit I felt like a one-man life raft! I kept forgetting I didn't need to kick to stay afloat.

Anyway, to the swim. How was it? Well... Interesting. Because I couldn't feel the pull of the water against my skin as I swam, I didn't feel like I was actually going anywhere. Kevin assured me I was moving pretty fast, but I sure didn't feel it. It also didn't help that I could barely see the tips if my fingers through the silt in the water and had a difficult time swimming in a straight line. Maybe my body was tired after running around Donner Lake yesterday, or maybe it was the wetsuit- or maybe I'm being a wus and just making up excuses- but it wore me out! I only swam for 5 or 6 minutes before I needed to stop and get my bearings, and access how I felt about swimming in a wetsuit. My conclusion? I didn't like it. Told myself to suck it up and keep going, but I had to stop every 5 minutes- my stroke felt funny because I was sitting so high up in the water, and I just didn't feel efficient. I got out after about 12 minutes and took the wetsuit off- I was hot and clammy and really uncomfortable, and frustrated at myself for being such a wimp about the whole thing. Then I got back in and swam with my regular swimsuit on, and instantly felt SO much better! Kevin said I wasn't going any faster than I was with the wetsuit on, but I sure felt like I had a lot more control over my arms and kick and even my breathing pattern.

So. Conclusions. At this point I don't want to swim in Tahoe because it's too cold to swim without a wetsuit, but sucks to swim with one. I should practice more with one on, I know, and not give up after one try. Has anyone swam this race before? Have words of wisdom about getting used to swimming in wetsuits? Wanna swim in Tahoe with me and MAKE me do this race?

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