Saturday, May 24, 2008

How to Put on a Wetsuit

I feel that I have a sacred duty to use these pages, err, pixels, to inform and educate. There may be some of you out there who are thinking, me? Wear a wetsuit? In public? No. Way.

Allow me to assuage your concerns.

Today was my very first Open Water Swim, aka "OWS," which means swimming that doesn't take place in a pool. It was a one-mile swim in Lake Audubon, in Reston, Virginia, a swim clinic that was prelude to a race tomorrow.

(You might remember that a few weeks ago I made a slight error and signed up for the race instead of the clinic. An error quickly put right by the lovely race director.)

Remember the morning of your first marathon? Your first 10k? 5K? First day of kindergarten? DO YOU REMEMBER THE STATE OF YOUR NERVES?

Yeah. Like that. I thought I would puke and die just driving there. My main worries were a) digestive (so to speak), and b) what if some horrible song started running through my head and I couldn't get it out????? Also, would I die from the cold (water temp was 64F)? And, lastly, could I finish?

To calm my nerves, the clinic started with a coach telling us how easy it is to DROWN. (I'm not making this up.) But! They had plenty of emergency personnel on hand. The other coaches talked about adrenaline, about how all your blood will go to your core so "don't worry if your lungs tighten up and you CAN'T BREATHE, because that's perfectly normal."


They started us slowly in groups of ten or so, and before I knew it I was in the water, and I started swimming. Kind of just like I do in the pool.

Putting on a brave face.

I took it nice and easy, as advised, and only stopped to see where I was, oh, 10,000 times or so.

The day was gorgeous, beautiful blue skies and nice and sunny.

I. Loved. Every. Minute.

No errant songs filled my brain. I was too busy trying to stay on some sort of course, which you would think might be easy since the course followed the shoreline, but you would be wrong. Mostly what I thought was: Am I last?

I swam freestyle. I felt strong the whole way, didn't get tired, breathing was easy. It was cake!

43 minutes later, I was done.

And I was, once again, DFL*.

(Hey, somebody has to be!)

So back to the wetsuit. I'm posting the photos below as a public service. If I can do this in public, you can too.**

1. Get wetsuit

2. Something about turning the legs inside-out:
Throw your butt in the air and party hardy like you just don't care... c 1979

3. Work it on up your legs:
Hey, Nineteen

4. Do the twist:

5. Now put your arms in:

6. Tug, tug, tug

7. Eh, bonsai!
New tri-friend, S., and me


*Dead F***ing Last

**Or you could just watch this:


Nancy Toby said...

Way to go!!!

Another trick that I always use is put plastic grocery bags on your feet and they slide right in smoothly, no tugging.

And yes, for three years straight, on the morning of every single triathlon that I did, I felt like throwing up. Finally after all that time I realized that's just part of the day, I'm not *actually* sick.

I think maybe last week was the first time I *didn't* feel like barfing. So you can look forward to that 4 years from now! ;-)

21stCenturyMom said...

DFL is meaningless - you didn't drown! That's what counts! Congratulations!!

Rainmaker said...

Very nice! And best of all - ya didn't put it on backwards. :)

Susan said...

WOW, J, great job!!!

Danielle in Iowa said...

You are a braver soul than I! I figure I'll tackle the wetsuit task after I take care of some easier details, like my dissertation.

I want to know if the woman in the bathing suit died of hypothermia. Because I am supposed to do an open water clinic today and I think it is going to be cooooold!

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

Hey, while you were in the water, there were millions of people sitting at home in front of the boob-tube, drinking beer and building their bellies. From the moment you started the race, you were a winner.

Regarding the wetsuit, when I was a diver, I knew a guy that wore pantyhose because it made his wetsuit slide on really easy. Not so fashionable on him, but it might look good on you. :)

Thomas said...

As someone who recoils in horror at the mere thought of swimming in open water, I can only express my full admiration.

LBTEPA said...

Yay! Sounds like a great day :)
Spraying your calves with cooking spray makes the wetsuit easier to get on, AND off in T1.
I just feel very very gloomy before races, maybe nausea would be preferable.
What is this obsession you have with DFL? YOU'RE OUT THERE. That's all that matters

zandria said...

Haha! I must say that I've never seen someone put on a wetsuit before. Very informative!!! :)

Anne said...

Hey, someone has to be last in a race, right? I like your version of putting on a wet suit better than that Katrina's in the video. Keep it real, girl.

Bex said...

Nice pix!

eileen said...

Well, there's a story with a surprise ending! I honestly thought DFL meant Didn't Finish Last! You continue to amaze me.

Rae said...

Way to go!!! Trust me, if I were there you would've smoked me. Open water scares me to death, so WAY TO GO!

peter said...

I wouldn't care if I was DFL if I could accomplish a 1-mile OWS. Ain't gonna happen for this boy. I'm thinkin', it's not Do The Twist while getting into the wetsuit, it's (I've been listening to my music anthologies from the 60s) C'mon Everyone, Do The Swim by Somebody or Other.

Jack said...

Last but not least, nice! I wore a wetsuit for a weekend of kayaking in the Black Forest (Germany) in the Spring of 1986. I was serving in the army at the time and went with about 15 other male soldiers. It was hot enough for mosquitoes, but the water was ice cold. Our female German instructor got a laugh when the guys had to pee really bad (beer was involved) and couldn’t get out of their wetsuits…the mosquitoes also fed freely when we tried to get the wetsuits back on again…aaahh the good old days ;-)

Judi said...

Too cute! You are hilarious.

Jade Lady said...

You're a winner in my book - love the lesson and photos of how to put on a wetsuit. You're way more interesting than the commercial youtube video. Congrats on the 1 mile swim - I need to do an open water swim soon - before my first race - and you a 1 miler at that - you rock!

Flatman said...

Love the instruction...

Is it wrong that I thought it would be funny if the girl in the video fell down while hopping on one leg trying to get the wetsuit on??? ;)

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