Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wetsuit Tryout

My swim progress over the last year has been amazing. A year ago I could barely do two lengths of the swimming pool without stopping to catch my breath and that was with a nose clip on to stop me snorting water through my nose.

I have worked really hard, focussing on the technical aspects of swimming - there are lots of resources out there Swim Smooth, Total Immersion, You Tube videos and other web resources including some really helpful friends on Twitter.

A year later, I can comfortable swim a mile in a swimming pool without stopping. I entered my first triathlon a month ago and the 500m swim felt very easy. My longest swim to date has been 2km. I'm lucky enough to have a swimming pool 5 minutes from where I work and I often put in a quick 500m at lunch time (dodging the head-bobbing old ladies).

There is always more technical improvement to be made with swimming. I'm certainly not a fast swimmer. I really enjoy the technical aspects, it's quite meditative trying to focus completely on your technique and bringing your mind back to the focus as you find it drifting to other thoughts. The lengths usually seem to fly (perhaps sail?) in.

So, it has been inevitable for sometime that I need to enter the next stage of the journey which will ultimately end with me being Rich Roll, and get into open water swimming.

I have a (somewhat significant) birthday coming up and didn't need much more of an excuse to treat myself. I did a bit of research before Deciding that the Orca Kaisei wetsuit on Wiggle was a decent buy and a few clicks later the order was made.

I had a day off on Thursday and we were meeting some friends in Grasmere at noon so the morning seemed an ideal opportunity to try out the wetsuit.

After a quick bit of on line research, I realised that you are not allowed to swim in Thirlmere, which was my first choice as it was on the way and you can park up right next to the shore at Armboth.

Not to worry though, plenty of other options, this is the Lake District after all. Crummock Water was the next natural choice, not quite on the way but a small detour. You can park right alongside and I have seen lots of people swimming there.

From the Loweswater end, we drove right to the far end before the road goes through a wood and enters Buttermere village. The yellow lines on the right hand side of the road end and you can park just beyond. There is a gate in the wall and a few steps leading to a beautiful shingle beached area.

I managed to get the wetsuit on (all on my own), goggles on and off I went.

The water was really nice and clear. The shore sloped gently into the. Lake and before long I was at waist depth and ready to try my first submersion. Finding that to be ok, I went for a little swim.

Yep, this is all a bit easy. I had read about horror stories of people freaking out because of cold water on their face or things brushing past their legs.

It was absolutely fine. In fact, it was quite beautiful.

Being out in the lake was like the serene tranquility you can experience floating on a surfboard out at sea.

At this point I really pushed it and went out of my depth!

Again,this was fine and I had a go at just floating about as well as swimming.

The wetsuit has a lot of buoyancy in the legs which means that you can just float without having to move very much at all.

After a bit more of a swim around, I decided that I was more than happy with my initial try out and headed back towards the shore.

When the water got shallow and I stood up, I learnt probably the most valuable lesson about open water swimming. I need a swim cap. Lifting my head up out of the water resulted in the type of brain freeze you only get by eating icecream too fast. Ouch!

Other than that, it was a great first experience and I am already researching open water swims and triathlons to enter.

I've also bought myself a swim cap. brrr!



  1. Now you know what it's like having a brain freeze eating icecream. Panorad

  2. Nice story & nice countryside btw :)