Swimsuit Differences Between Pool And Open Water Swimming

Swimsuit Differences Between Pool And Open Water Swimming

Andrew Dampf of The Associated Press wrote an article about how no pool world swimming records could be set this year, for the first time since FINA has been keeping records in 1908.

Over 100 years and no world records were set for the first time ever – entirely due to the use of the very fast buoyant technical swimsuits with compression panels available in 2008 – 2009.

The technical swimsuits caused grat alarm among pool coaches around the world and complaints about the lack of credibility and equality in pool swimming built to a thundering cresendo until FINA modified its rules.

Similarly, competitive masters swimmers and many marathon swimmers were not happy that technical swimsuits and wetsuits were allowed at some open water events and used by some open water swimmers.

But, interestingly, the similarities between the pool and open water swimming world vis-a-vis swimsuits ended abruptly this year.

While the pool swimming world immediately shifted to the textile swimsuits and hoards of competitive, age-group and masters swimmers were left with an expensive, but non-legal, inventory of technical swimsuits in their closets, the sport of open water swimming continued to appeal to a growing audience.

While some open water competitions outlawed technical swimsuits, others allowed wetsuits. While some open water competitions permitted wetsuits under certain temperatures, extreme cold-water swimming is at an all-time global popularity. While some swimmers sniffed at swimmers clad in wetsuits, growing masses of swimmers in wetsuits gathered along the shorelines of oceans, seas and lakes around the world.

An open water swimmer can compete in sanctioned races in one type of swimsuit, do a solo channel swim in another type of swimsuit and wear another type in invitational or mass participation swims. Open water swimmers often find themselves adapting to different swimsuit standards just as they must adapt to different water conditions.

In other words, as the pool swimming world quickly coalesced under one global textile swimsuit standard (with minor variations and interpretations), the open water swimming shifted gears and went the entire other way – to a totally decentralized community with an unprecedented and increasing ability to offer competitions that appeal to all levels of interests, abilities, ages, water temperatures and swimsuit standards.

So instead of being exclusive of new equipment and swimsuits, the open water swimming community became inclusive – of all types, interests, levels and swimmers.

There are reasons for open water’s growth and this flexibility and acceptance is one.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones