So, the wetsuit debate is alive and kicking, as it will always be. This year has particular resonance in the UK as the water has been colder this year later than I can remember. I swam in Feb last year, at 8’c; and now on the 3rd of May, it’s only just reaching that in Dover! Many open water venues and races are trying to figure out what to do- open? Delay races? Allow wetsuits? Enforce wetsuits? Shorten distances?
Thankfully, the water is now warming and we’ll all be swimming away soon enough. Channel aspirants are sweating it a bit as there has not been the hour building in the water, by this time, most would be wanting a couple of hours in the water…. But I wish them well, dig in and eat chilli chocolate! South Devon Chilli Farm do the best- it really warms you through. I’m a total convert, and addict (I mean advocate).
We’d all be in a different mindset if Captain Webb had neoprene to help him- he swam with what was available to him, but we don’t eat roast chicken en route…. I wonder if he would have worn a wetsuit- probably, as the idea of purist cold water swimming wasn’t about. I swim without a wetsuit by choice, not because the rules dictate to me how I should enjoy the thing I love. I uphold people’s right to swim the channel and be marked as assisted! The courage to tackle the channel starts way before you get to Dover- just to be audacious enough to think you can swim to France is a dream only a few have, let alone realise.