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Thread: Wetsuits & health risks?

  1. #1
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    Wetsuits & health risks?

    I'm curious what the ratio of deaths is for the swim portion of triathlons vs open water swims. Or maybe phrased a better way: I wonder if swimmers wearing wetsuits are more at risk of health issues than those not wearing wetsuits. This comes after learning of another death in the swim leg of a triathlon (athlete was wearing a wetsuit, but also had a known heart problem).

    I sometimes feel nauseous after swimming in a wetsuit. I wonder if the constrictive nature of the suits might exacerbate any health issues in athletes (such as cardiac problem or other).

    Just curious. I'm not against wetsuits, but I have a feeling the industry targets triathletes since they're less familiar w/ swimming and believe they require more of a cushion.

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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    I don't know statistics for deaths during swim events. I think it is low. Some people challenge uncomfortability more than others. I'm waiting for the water to warm up before I swim in open water. Some brave temperatures much colder. I think we have to judge for ourselves.
    If someone with a heart condition wants to swim, the risk could be lowered by proper training. We are adults. We make our own decisions. I'd rather die swimming than stay home and feel sorry that my ill health kept me from an activity that I love.

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    Very Active Member FindingMyInnerFish's Avatar
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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    I have done several open water swims, none with a wetsuit, so I can't speak from experience, but some people have told me they feel constricted in wetsuits (not that they have had health issues). I've also heard the shorty wetsuits offer some warmth without the constriction. But mostly, I like the freedom of just wearing a swimsuit. Although not a fast swimmer at all and someone who could conceivably benefit from a wetsuit, I haven't ever felt any desire to get one.

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    Very Active Member E=H2O's Avatar
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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    As an open water swimmer that lived in the triathlon world for a few years, I can offer a few personal observations about that sport:

    1) Damn, it really helps to be skinny in triathlons. When I was training for a 1/2 Ironman I lost 10 lb to improve performance and reduce injuries. In colder open water swimming I add 10 lb to extend the time I can spend in the water. A 20 lb shift. If you are a triathlete it is easier to buy a good wetsuit than the alternatives.

    2) Damn, these wetsuits are fast. Even at my advanced age, I finished very high in the swim legs. I was not going to give up time to anyone because they had a wetsuit on and I didn't.

    3) Damn, these new suits (the high end ones) are so flexible that I don't even feel like I'm wearing one. Get a good fitting suit. People who say they feel constricted may have a suit that is too small, but that is usually not the case. They are just not accustomed to the feel. How many people who wore pool speed suits felt unrestricted when they started to swim with one.

    4) Damn, I float like a cork in a wetsuit. No doubt about it. it was the one thing that took a bit of getting used to for me. Once I relaxed in the lower head position it fosters, it became second nature. i did however, work a bit more on my sighting.

    5) Damn, if I know if there are more fatalities among triathletes during the swim leg than in open water races. However, I know that to come to any conclusions, on whatever the data may be, would require a very rigorous examination of all the factors involved. It has been suggested by some that it might be related to a high level of anxiety in some athletes, and nothing to do with swimming skills. Triathletes in general may experience a higher rate of anxiety during the swim leg, than swimmers in an open water race, but that is pure speculation.
    "If you didn't swallow water in your last open water race, you weren't racing."

    www.bobswims.com/

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    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    i don't think wetsuits are a factor in swim fatalities.

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    Swimming gives me a buzz! Bobinator's Avatar
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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    I have never completed a race in a wetsuit. Last year I thought I might need one for a race so I wore it to practice. The mere rubbery smell of the suit made my throat and sinuses feel bad. My shoulders are already too tight; the wetsuit made me feel like a panic-attack on steroids. Needless to say I will always swim sans a wet-suit. If the water is colder than I care to tackle I'll just not swim.
    HTFU!

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    Very Active Member E=H2O's Avatar
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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobinator View Post
    I have never completed a race in a wetsuit. Last year I thought I might need one for a race so I wore it to practice. The mere rubbery smell of the suit made my throat and sinuses feel bad.
    Classic signs of a neoprene allergy. My suggestion is to steer clear of the stuff. I don't know why, but there seems to be a high incidence of this allergy among open water swimmers.
    "If you didn't swallow water in your last open water race, you weren't racing."

    www.bobswims.com/

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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by E=H2O View Post
    Classic signs of a neoprene allergy. My suggestion is to steer clear of the stuff. I don't know why, but there seems to be a high incidence of this allergy among open water swimmers.
    Huh, I never thought of that but it makes perfect sense! I thought I was just being difficult but maybe there really was a reason!!
    HTFU!

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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    Classic signs of a neoprene allergy. My suggestion is to steer clear of the stuff. I don't know why, but there seems to be a high incidence of this allergy among open water swimmers.
    My suggestion is to not listen to Dr. E=H20. There are millions of surfers, divers, boogie boarders, body surfers, and kayakers that have no issue with "neoprene allergy".

    Find a wetsuit that fits and there won't be a rash problem. The smell of your suit will morph into, well, you. Just clean it with fresh water after use.

  10. #10
    Very Active Member E=H2O's Avatar
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    Re: Wetsuits & health risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by stillwater View Post
    My suggestion is to not listen to Dr. E=H20. There are millions of surfers, divers, boogie boarders, body surfers, and kayakers that have no issue with "neoprene allergy".

    Find a wetsuit that fits and there won't be a rash problem. The smell of your suit will morph into, well, you. Just clean it with fresh water after use.
    I take offense at you sarcastic attack on my academic credentials.

    Other than that I agree with you. I own an Xterra Vendetta and a Vortex Pro X2 I used in my triathlon races. I also have no hesitation in wearing them in an OW race if the race is wetsuit legal and there is only 1 division (no separate wetsuit division).

    I also have 2 neo caps. One from decades ago that I used for bodysurfing in So Cal and another one I picked up a few years back. Personally I think they should be allowed in all races up to 75 degrees without penalty.
    "If you didn't swallow water in your last open water race, you weren't racing."

    www.bobswims.com/

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