Wetsuits As Performing Enhancements - A Letter To The Editor

Wetsuits As Performing Enhancements – A Letter To The Editor

The Daily News of Open Water Swimming often receives emails expressing various viewpoints on the sport of open water swimming.

One such recent letter to the editor was related to the use of wetsuits, a timely topic given the fact that there have been several well-publicized marathon swims done with wetsuits recently. The writer-swimmer asked the question, “Is a wetsuit to an open water swimmer equivalent to an athlete’s use of performance enhancing drugs?”

The individual offered an answer to his own question, “I continue to marvel at the Matthew Webbs and Gertrude Ederles of the world. I just cannot grasp the wetsuit as an allowable ‘device’ for open water swims. If it must be, there must be two divisions so a clearly identifiable standard is established – and easy to understand: non-wetsuit and wetsuit.

If the wetsuit is an issue of safety, then the question is, ‘Should that person then be in the water? Or, if that person knows there is a safety issue, should that person begin to undertake a training regimen consisting of cold water acclimatization? Anyone can go buy a wetsuit, but who actually understands the rigors of training?

For every major marathon swim, all results shall be posted as wetsuit and non-wetsuit. Triathletes who are allowed to wear a wetsuit for a swim of 60 minutes or less, simply do not take the rigors of open water training seriously. Training to be safe in cold water for 45 minutes, doesn’t take much and if no wetsuits were allowed, they’d all have the same hurdle/disavantage. My hunch is some triathletes do not want to train for swimming and, given the time it takes to train, question the payoff?

Where is a wetsuit justified? Lewis Pugh’s swim in Mt. Everest is one example. Other extreme swims, where the masses are not interested, would qualify. But for these races, and major events, cannot get into the scenario of wetsuits. Thanks for letting me rant

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones