Thursday 5th September – Wetsuit with Issues
Today, as planned, was going to be in the school swimming pool donning a wetsuit. Having only a fleeting moment in the sea with it on, it was no real test as to how the swim would feel in the event.
The wetsuit has been with me since May, but I have only tried it on twice before this week. The main reason for that was the intense heat we have here in Bulgaria throughout the summer. Yesterday was the third time it was put on, but on my own, I couldn’t zip up the back and was sweating profusely directly the wetsuit rose above my waist. I know from the outset this wetsuit was a little tight on me, but I do not have any options to change it from both logistics and finance. The only remedy that would solve that was to lose a little weight and that has been achieved over the last few months. Losing weight is fine, but muscles have developed through that process of a pretty strict fitness regime. So, although I am down on weight my mass hasn’t diminished that greatly. As I found out on this occasion having to squeeze tightly into a giant tyre.
There was a cunning plan to get to the swimming pool without having to change into the wetsuit in the school changing rooms. Yes, it is quite a calamity trying to put this skin on and would amuse quite a few onlookers if they saw the process with plastic bags and gardening gloves to engineer the dressing. Those who have worn wetsuits know what mean here.
The idea was to get the wetsuit on at home and wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt over it, then cycle to the pool. Walking in the heat with this on would cause severe sweating. On the bike, the gradient is downward for the main to the school so no real effort in pedalling is needed with a breeze all the way there.
As the suit slowly enveloped me, the sweating started even with open windows, doors, and the breeze running through the bedroom. My attempt to zip up today was successful with a bit of coaxing back and forth. I felt like a skinned sausage! Yes, it was tight, but touching my toes and stretching my arms wasn’t too much of a problem with the neoprene giving. It does take a little extra effort, and that would be reflected in the additional effort in the swim no doubt.
Short, and t-shirt on and it was on my bike rolling down the road to the pool. In my keenness, I was a little early so I paused a while at a junction, where there was a breeze to cool me down a bit. 5-minutes of that and I was on my way again and arrived in no time.
When I got there, it just couldn’t wait to get in the water with the heat that was transmitting from inside the wetsuit. I felt drips of sweating running down my back and my forehead was riddled with streaming pores that turned into a fountain running down my face. Where was the receptionist? She had gone AWOL. The Lifeguard saw me arrived and said she’d call the receptionist telling her I had arrived. This was the last thing I needed, waiting in a non-ventilated environment sweating for England with no option together than to wait. It was a full 10 minutes before someone came to take my 3 leva and present me with a ticket to swim. It couldn’t come too soon as I rushed to the changing room.
It was off with the shorts and t-shirt and swap my glasses for goggles, earplugs cap and into the shower. It was a cold shower, but make no odds in this suit.
The anticipation was too much as I skipped the stretching exercises and wen straight in the waters. There was only one person using a lane so I had a free choice of three lanes, I took a central one. Because of the delay is was 16:55, but that didn’t bother me as this was a kind of experiment, not an endurance session.
Starting with breaststroke a familiar situation came about again. My legs were kicking air with the extra buoyancy. It was harder on the effort needed on my arms to raise my head and basically the same experience that was found in that short spell in the sea. It wasn’t comfortable or relaxed but I preserved for four lengths to see whether I could adapt. My stroke became shorter and more effort was needed to try and keep my legs underwater, in fact, the complete opposite of efforts or arms and legs without a wetsuit! Strange, not happy with that but there is always freestyle to rely on now I thought.
Into freestyle and the first few strokes were good. It was also my intention to try at random a right-side breathing attempt. This was tried on my first length and panic set in straight away. My reaction was to try and fight the panic and try again, this time it was worse, even though I returned to left side breathing straight away to try and recover. After the third attempt, it was too much and my feet reached for the bottom of the pool. I was in a mess, it felt like I was being suffocated. The episode of wearing a wetsuit today felt like a nightmare and I wanted to be freed from the anxiety of being mummified.
Some online advice was remembered when in such a state. Right now I thought that the event in two-weeks time was now out of my reach in a wetsuit and whether I could cope with the cold London waters without a wetsuit having been blessed with a heated pool and warm sea waters to date. My mind was to just do what I had done before for countless hours. Sensible thinking was in play now. That wetsuit scientifically makes it easier to swim and aids the breathing technique significantly. Just give up on right side breathing!!!
Here we go again, freestyle starts up again. 55 minutes later it was the end of the session, time up. Yes, it does take up a little more effort with the resistance of the tightness of the wetsuit, but there are other positive benefits. Whereas I took a minimum of 10 strokes cycles to do a length with good technique, it went down to 9 with a wetsuit. There is no effort needed in leg kicks to keep the body level in the water. But rather than being lazy with that the sporadic kicks were consciously made to give more forward movement rather than just for balance. Breathing, (to the left) was easier with a slightly raised front end. I had to force my head down under the water now to get a better streamlined body rather than farcing it up to breath with extra effort in the left arm stroke. This is a counterbalance in with the extra energy needed with the wetsuit.
55 minutes and I could have gone on for much longer, but at this stage, I prefer to swim without a wetsuit from the experience. However, this is the first time in freshwater and the sensible option is to give it another go, but don’t go doing stressful things such as right side breathing.
During that 55 minutes front crawl session I did kick in two lengths of breaststroke just out of curiosity. It didn’t feel like it was a recovery stroke and in fact, stressed me out a bit with the awkwardness of the stroke in a wetsuit. My idea now is if a break or pause needed, either use the tow float which will be with me or just go into backstroke. These ploys will give the necessary assurances needed in a time of panic replacing breaststroke. The only question now is what stroke do I start with in the event considering there will be with hundreds of other swimmers in close proximity. Seemingly breaststroke is out of the equation right now with a wetsuit on, although I will continue to persevere with that stroke to try and solve that issue.
Into the shower and wetsuit stripped off and washed before doing the same to me. Quite relieved to get out of it feeling quite liberated having been in it for 2 and a half hours. It is now hanging up drip-drying on our apartment balcony for all the neighbourhood to see. Something about that which strangely feels good.
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