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 , 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: