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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Ultimate Power Suit

Happy Tuesday dear sisters. As I write this blog I am sitting in my latest new outfit. Yes, my sisters- may I say that I have made a rather fabulous fashion purchase.

No this was not a perfect pair of strappy sandals and no I did not invest in a new summer fabulous of any kind. Instead I  found my self in my ultimate new power suit….. my new wetsuit.

Oh sweet sisters- have you been in a wetsuit? If not… allow me to talk you through this fashion experience.

A wetsuit is basically a suit made of neoprene coated in rubber. It’s basically a body condom lined in scuba material. On the good side? It is the ultimate set of spanx. A wetsuit sucks “everything in” in all the right places. My wetsuit makes me feel like a superhero. In my wetsuit- I AM Wonderwoman. In my wetsuit I am a size 6 supermodel and I piss awesome.

This is of coarse all possible ONCE I am IN my wetsuit. Getting into my wetsuit is indeed the down side of it all.

Have you ever tried on a wetsuit? In short… it’s a bitch to get on. You know that scene where you are putting on a pair of control top pantyhose that are easily a size too small? You struggle and you suck it in and you bounce around on one leg and before you know it- you manage to put all of your wiggly bits into the right place.

Let me paint the scene. There I am in my fabulous new bathing suit that I will wear to my triathlon as I hold my wetsuit in front of me. It is a black rubber full length suit with just the right amount  of blue accents on the arms and legs. My wetsuit is beautiful black and laying there it looks like it might be the promise of perfection for my race this weekend.

And then I try and put this rubber suit on. And that is where the beauty ends.

Putting on my wetsuit is indeed a work out in itself. I stick my feet intro the rubber holes that are the legs of this suit. I then spend the next 5 minutes wrestling with this rubber suit as it fight its way onto my thighs. I feel as though I am wrestling a very large animal wrapped in rubber bungee cords. And the large rubber animal is my lower torso. I am sweating now. I muster a grunt- more for effect than anything. After much effort I have managed to put this rubber suit over my hips and thighs. And now I pull the suit up over my chest and torso and slide my arms into it.

By this time my body temperature is easily three degrees higher. I am now sweating but I am zipped in. I turn to look at my reflection in the mirror and yes…. Despite the sweat over my face and the fact that I look like I’ve just ran a few kilometers- I am in this suit and I am ready for my magical moment.

This morning I engaged in this very ritual at the beach at Kitsilano. My goal was to swim 2km in Kits pool in my wetsuit and then to take a turn in the ocean.

My plan was to get my “ocean legs” wet- to play in the ocean until I was really and truly comfortable there. You see my girlfriends- I have a 2km ocean swim ahead of me on Sunday and I am…well… a bit unsettled by the idea of an ocean swim.

 It’s the whole idea of putting your face in the water and seeing nothing but green. IN a pool you can see the bottom. In the ocean the view looks like pea soup. It can be a bit unsettling. If I am truly being honest- the first time I did it.... it scared the shit out of me.

It's like staring into space and having an existential crisis all at the same time. I think it's about feeling alone in the world.... that primordial sense of isolation that human beings find so alienating. Yes, I am being philosophical. To bring it down a notch? It feels like you are 6 years old and afraid of the dark. Instead "the dark" is the ocean and you are by yourself in it. You put your face in and can't see a thing. If you do see something it might be a shark..... okay, I'm being dramatic and a chicken shit. But hey, go with it.

And so I needed to rid myself of this irrational fear. My plan was to put a song in my head and may face in the water and not come up until the fear had washed away. 

There I was on a beautiful day off frolicking in the Pacific in my new wetsuit. I put my underwater MP3 on and listened to Vampire Weekend as I pretended I was one part Wonderwoman- one part mermaid. Thirty minutes later- it worked. There I was jumping and swimming and diving up and under to some fabulous tunes on a fabulous day in a fabulous new wetsuit. And I was anything but afraid.

Swimming in a wetsuit is indeed an interesting experience. There you are encased in rubber and I must say that breathing is a bit more laboured than in a regular bathing suit. It feels a bit “compressed” if you will.  This, however, gets better with experience. Ten minutes into my wetsuit swim and I was much better at the breathing/rubber combination.

With all of these adjustments, one must ask a sister- why even put on the wetsuit?

Turns out- there is an advantage to swimming in a rubber suit when swimming in the ocean.

Firstly there is the warmth factor.

When a swimmer is submerged in water- the water flows into the suit settling between the rubber and the body. The swimmers own body temperature will warm the water and therefore warm the swimmer. As you swim- the body warms up and warms the water further. Again this warms the body further. And so a wetsuit is the perfect way to keep you warm when you are in the Pacific Ocean in the pursuit of a dream.

Then there is the concept that a wetsuit improves your buoyancy and therefore improves you speed. Think of it like a boat driving on the water. The more you are able to stay on the surface- the faster it will be.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 1991, wetsuits indeed improve performance in both short and long distance swims. The study looked at 16 elite athletes swimming both in and out of wetsuits at 400m and 1500m distances.

While wearing a wetsuits the swimmers were able to reduce their speeds by 14 seconds on average for the 400metres and 35 seconds for the 1500 metres.

The interesting thing was that the effect was most pronounced for the thinner swimmers. The theory was that heavier swimmers were already more buoyant and had an added advantage.

And so this Sunday, my girlfriends I will frolic in the Pacific and swim for glory in my fabulous rubber suit. I will be warm thanks to the mechanic of it all and I may even pee shamelessly in the suit if I want to. Who knows if my time will be better with the suit than without…. As with most things, my girlfriends- I’m in it for the fashion statement more than anything else. 

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