Why Wetsuit Swims Are Different Than Non-wetsuit Swims
Wetsuit swims are fundamentally and specifically different than non-wetsuit swims – without a question and without a doubt.
With the global explosion of open water swimming, there are fundamental principles that may not be well understood by newcomers to the sport. One issue is the differences between non-wetsuit swims versus wetsuit swims in the open water,
“It is my belief that every non-wetsuit swim in the world could be done faster by a wetsuit swimmer compared to a non-wetsuit swimmer, especially as the water drops below 27°C. Even above27°C, if the swim is short enough – arguably 10 km, a wetsuit swimmer could outswim an equally talented non-wetsuit swimmer,” explains Steven Munatones. “This is why in the open water swimming world, the wetsuit swimmer and the non-wetsuit swimmer are not compared. Those are two different types of swims and swimmers.”
What are the five primary advantages and differences of a wetsuit swim versus a non-wetsuit swim?
1. A wetsuit provides buoyancy.
2. A wetsuit changes the position of the body in the water, elevating the hips and legs to make the body more streamlined and faster.
3. A wetsuit provides protection against jellyfish stings. Jellyfish stings are venomous and can cause of number of physiological problems.
4.A wetsuit provides protection against cold water temperatures which is, arguably, the most difficult challenge to overcome in the open water
5.A wetsuit provides protection against cold air temperatures. This is especially important in swims in cold water. The combination of cold water and cold air temperatures is the most difficult challenge to overcome.
6. A wetsuit provides coverage for swimmers who are shy about their body image. While this choice has less to do with the elements, it can be an important consideration.
“A wetsuit effectively eliminates the element of risk and challenges that open water swimmers face,” said Munatones. “Use of a wetsuit also effectively and fundamentally changes the acclimatization process that can require months or years of training in order to become hardened to overcome the cold. Also, when jellyfish stings are eliminated from the equation in the open water, this is a huge advantage.
That being said, the growth of the sport has attracted many – which is a very good thing. Over time, some wetsuit swimmers challenge themselves to acclimate to colder temperatures and accept the risk of jellyfish stings. But, even if they do not, the wetsuiters are very welcomed to the open water. However, a comparison of wetsuit swimmers to non-wetsuit swimmers is unfair to those who willingly deal with the cold and jellyfish.”
Channel swimmer Tina Neill pointed out, “The acclimation process is tough and takes time and patience. There is a true feeling of peace and discovery when you interact with nature in a pure state. Experiencing the raw beauty and strength of Mother Nature is truly an adventure. I know people with low body fat that do long, cold swims.”
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