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chaos

WETSUITS....

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by , September 11th, 2011 at 08:59 PM (2878 Views)
The days are getting shorter, and the water is getting cooler. OW swimmers look upon this predictable change with mixed emotions.... the 2011 season is ending, but it is also an opportunity to prepare for 2012. There will be a short "optimal" window to get those long qualifying swims knocked off.... one less thing to have to squeeze into the early spring.

Some CIBBOWS swimmers will go for weekend swims all winter long, braving water temperatures into the low 30's. Yes the swims will be brief; measured in minutes, not hours, and warming time will exceed swim time by a large margin. Others, will fade from the OW for the comfort of a familiar pool. I will be primarily a member of the latter group, but my respect and admiration belong to the former. I would join them more often if only I lived closer to NYC.

It would be great to see a larger group commit to year round OW swimming in Brooklyn... even in rubber. I donned a wetsuit a couple of days ago... one that I have owned for a while but had never worn. What was the inspiration to suddenly don rubber? I was supporting some friends on a swim in Lake Memphremagog. I was aboard a pontoon boat, it was quite windy and getting cold... the temp dropped to the low 40's. Right out of the gate, a couple of waves soaked all the extra clothing I brought with me... by 2 AM, I was freezing, and the wetsuit seemed like the best option to keep me warm. It did, but additionally, it kept my arms and legs quite compressed, adding spring to my steps. I also noticed that the suit had textured forearms, no doubt to give a swimmer added purchase to every catch. All in all I would have to say it is a great design, promising added buoyancy, warmth, compression, a low coefficient of friction, and increased grip in the forearms. No one dares to claim that such equipment doesn't offer a huge advantage to its wearer, but there are many who expect wetsuited swims to carry the same weight as those done in traditional swim attire, sorry, they don't. So... how does this wetsuit swim? I don't know... I never got in the water.

The charge of "elitism" isn't quite accurate, its just calling it what it is... which is different than a swim done traditionally. In his essay http://www.icontact-archive.com/9BwG...HympOPZ9dU?w=2 , Scott Zoring makes the case that activities done while wearing a wetsuit shouldn't be called "swimming". Though I may not agree with the terms he has chosen, I do believe that there should be a distinction between traditional and assisted or aided swimming. Once again, it has nothing to do with elitism or excluding wetsuited persons from participation, but rather just creating clear categories so that we may choose who and what to follow based on our own interests and preferences.

Other sports have very specific terminology to describe the "style" by which one participates... take rock climbing: Free Climbing, Aid Climbing, Sport Climbing: are all different techniques. Generally speaking, it would be frowned upon if someone claimed to have climbed a route "Free" unless they had followed the rules of "Free Climbing", not to mention that it would be misleading to others who attempt the route with false information.

Thats all I'm going to say about it. Please check out:
http://www.freshwaterswimmer.com/ and http://loneswimmer.com/2011/09/09/ch...suits-at-dawn/

for more on the subject.

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  1. Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
    The sooner wetsuits leave the water and enter the realm of casual sportswear, the better. Life is simply much better in neoprene.
  2. chaos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken of the Sea
    The sooner wetsuits leave the water and enter the realm of casual sportswear, the better. Life is simply much better in neoprene.
    I doubt casual sportswear is the answer, but I would like to see a B-70 ball-gag made available.
  3. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Are there any good articles out there on what physiological changes occur when you're adapting to cold water swimming?
  4. chaos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by swimsuit addict
    Are there any good articles out there on what physiological changes occur when you're adapting to cold water swimming?
    Donal Buckley has a great blog: http://loneswimmer.com/category/open...ld-open-water/

    So does Rachel Golub:
    http://www.rachelgolub.blogspot.com/
  5. aztimm's Avatar
    I was pleasantly surprised to see that the NYC Governors Island swim (and I think all NYC swims) wasn't going to allow even jammers. A bit extreme, but I think a step in the right direction
    (now it would have been better if the swim happened)
  6. chaos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm
    I was pleasantly surprised to see that the NYC Governors Island swim (and I think all NYC swims) wasn't going to allow even jammers. A bit extreme, but I think a step in the right direction
    (now it would have been better if the swim happened)
    sorry to hear that the "red cloud" cancelled govs isle. the recent storms have moved so much debris into the hudson... it takes a long time to make its way down to the city. i'm happy to hear that you were able to get a cibbows swim in!

    i think the position that nyc swim has taken is why should event volunteers be charged with the responsibility of policing the field for approved vs non approved material.
  7. evmo's Avatar
    Thanks for the link, David. I posted a final follow-up here. I like your analogy of rock climbing, and it inspired me to ask the more general question: If wetsuited swimming can be considered a type of "swimming" (contra Scott Z.), how should we view this type? As a separate but equal discipline, like fin-aided vs. non-fin free-diving, and raw vs. equipped powerlifting? Or as an inferior (but nonetheless practiced) version of the one true discipline? Mountain climbing with oxygen seemed to be the closest example of the latter.
  8. chaos's Avatar
    I think the term “cheating” should be reserved for those who specifically lie about how a swim was done, not for those who choose to use aid. To revisit the rock climbing analogy again… (I happen to live a stone’s throw from the Shawangunks). Guide books typically list routes and credit the climber who first ascended. If the route was originally done as an “aid route” but later done free, it will list both. Example:
    ROUTE NAME
    FA: John Doe 1939
    FFA: Harvy Wallbanger 1972
    The difficulty rating posted will be for the latter.

    Rock climbing has advanced in a way where the athleticism is increasing, and though there is no law against breaking tradition, the community would frown upon someone who claimed to have just climbed a famous route on El Capitan in record time if they had fixed protection ahead of time (sport climbing) when traditionally it is “place it as you go”.
  9. Chris Stevenson's Avatar
    The charge of "elitism" isn't quite accurate, its just calling it what it is... which is different than a swim done traditionally. ... I do believe that there should be a distinction between traditional and assisted or aided swimming. Once again, it has nothing to do with elitism or excluding wetsuited persons from participation, but rather just creating clear categories so that we may choose who and what to follow based on our own interests and preferences.
    I have no problem with this reasoning. The problem is when wetsuit wearers are disallowed from participating (eg, in USMS national championship races). It is hard to avoid a charge of "elitism" (or whatever you want to call it) in such a case; I don't see another way to interpret the exclusion.
  10. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by chaos
    Thanks--the Donel 5-parter and the article it cites is the kind of thing I was looking for, and Rachel's beautiful prose is always a treat to read!
  11. Donalb's Avatar
    Thanks Dave. There was a sixth part to the 5-parter, that I originally forgot to cover, on the physical sensations of cold.

    It's here: http://loneswimmer.com/2011/06/06/ho...el-cold-water/