Wet suit, cold open water swim ?

My Wife is training for a triathlon, but has found out that she gets panicky in the open water swim. She’s a fish in the pool (she used to be a life guard). And both of us are scuba divers. Though she is less experienced than I.

So. She needs to get used to open water. There is a lake about 40 miles away that we think we will be able to find a quite cove to swim in.

But. The water temp is going to be 58-60 degrees. She has a full specially made triathlon wet suit. Last weekend she swam in a lake that was about 62 degrees. No problem at all with cold. And to overcome the panic, she just rolled over on her back and did the elementary back stroke.

I will be going with her as support, and swim with her a bit. I will probably just bob around and give encouragement.

I just have a shorty wet suit, with short sleeves. It’s not a bib type. And booties. More suited to the Caribbean dives that we do.

I’ll be wearing my fins so I can move fast.

Anywho, I’m gonna get cold fast. Depending on the water temp, and the size of the cove, and how well I and my Wife do, I plan on getting in and out, and keeping an eye on her from shore.

Wet suits keep you warm by keeping a thin layer of water next to your body. Your body heats it up. I think that if I wore a t-shirt or even a thin fleece vest under my wet-suit, it would act as a kind of sieve, and help prevent the colder water from rushing in and out when I move.

What do you think? Ever try that?

Well, I have pretty much the same setup as your wife. I have a triathlon suit and I wear my singlet and shorts under it during the race. I don’t notice that they give me more warmth. You might be better off wearing a lycra skin suit or a long-sleeve rash guard (Surfers wear rash guards to prevent being scraped by the board).

If your wife doesn’t wear a high-neck singlet or shirt under her tri-suit, she should. She’ll get a welt from turning her neck while breathing.

But, my best advice is to supplement a swim cap with a neoprene hood. People out here in Northern California do that when they swim in the ocean or the SF Bay. You can find them at triathlon stores.

I think that this is the best thing you can do to combat cold water! Remember that you lose lots of heat through your head. I dive out here in the ocean at Monterey. All of us wear 7mm wetsuits with overvests or (if we can afford it) dry suits. Most people also get a 10mm hood, even if they have a dry suit.

Congratulations to your wife for doing this triathlon. Which one is it?

By the way, 58-60 is the water temp I’ve seen the SF Bay, lately, when I swim up at Aquatic Park in the City. It is cold. And yet people swim there just in trunks. :eek: GUYS! Go figure.

Not that I want to scare your wife, but if she’s competing in a triathlon, she should be prepared for a lot different experience than swimming alone in a lake. The first 5-10 miinutes can be an incredible cluster-frack with lots of kicking and swirling water. If she gets panicky, tell her to swim to the outside until the field starts to break up a little bit. She may lose a minute or two, but will still probably do better than if she has to stop to regain her composure after her goggles get knocked off.

Everytime I did a traithon I swore during the first 5 minutes of the swim I’d never do another one. Then you find your rhythm, the field breaks up and everything’s just fine. And as a friend of mine used to say: the race really begins when you get out of the water. Especially for the longer races, the swim is the shortest segment (time-wise).

You probably don’t have to worry as long as you keep swimming. You’ll be cold for the first few minutes, but you’ll start heating up fast. Unless you’re really used to using fins, I’d recommend a pool-bouy instead. It’ll keep you afloat almost as well as a full wet suit, and you’ll be able to swim faster. If you’re just swimming 1/2 mile or so, you should be OK- that shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes even if you’re not a very good swimmer.

Good idea, but I think the typical tri-cap should be fine. I’ve never had a problem swiming in the NorCal ocean with just that.

Yeah, me, too. But of course when you’re diving you’re in much colder water. I don’t think that’s a good comparison. The temp at 50 ft is going to be more like 45 deg than 55-60 deg at the surface.

Tri cap as in a thin swim cap, or as in a 5mm or so neoprene cap? Just curious. I don’t use one even at Aquatic Park. My comments were very stream-of-consciousness; I’m not suggesting a 10mm cap for a triathlon! I was only pointing out that you lose heat through your head.

I agree with you that swim starts are a bit crazy. I’ve gotten used to it, though. If possible, I start towards the back of the pack and a bit to the outside. All depends on what one’s goals are. I time myself on my own watch, so I don’t worry too much about losing a few seconds at the start.

I also try to warm up good first, then go fast until the pack thins out, then settle in. For an international and longer, that’s a good strategy anyway.

I am still really bugged by people who simply swim into my legs. Can’t they even hear me swimming? :mad:

Another thought. At T1, if the water was really cold this woman’s hands are not gonna work too well. She might want to practice taking off the suit. The legs are particularly hard to do. I use Chamois Butter on my legs, then I get it off down to my ankles and step on one leg at a time to pull it off.

I thought what kept you warm in a wet suit was the thin layer of water between you and the suit, and that if you wore something between you and it you’d get awfully cold in a hurry? I remember somebody talking about some college kid getting hypothermia that way, but for the life of me I can’t put a context to the story.

Color me confused- she dives in open water, right? Is this just a crowded-water thing, due to all the participants?

Thank you for all your responses.

Yes, we have heard about the wet suit kiss on the back of the neck. She is using a body glide lotion on those parts. Also makes it easier to get the suit off. Ummm… What is a singlet?

She is training for the Silverman in Las Vegas.

Yes. She did that on her last sprint. She started in the back left of about 80 swimmers. Stay out of the washing machine. Then the second wave started to catch up to her while she was backstroking, and I think that made her panic a little bit more.

She nearly turned back after 100 meters or so. But managed to relax enough to do the 800 of the sprint.

My fin use is with scuba. But I started when I was about 9 years old skin diving. I do real well on my back with fins. I can really move and I think I’ll be able to keep myself warm, as long as I can keep my energy up. I’ll get out of the water If I can’t.

I’m going to plan on wearing a t-shirt under my shorty wet suit. I think that will help keep the water from flushing through the suit as I move about in the water. I actually don’t want to try to swim next to my Wife much. She needs to get over her panic. But. If I’m in the water, in the middle of the cove, it will make her feel safer. I’ll be Bobin around, swimming a bit and encouragement. And I suspect, a bit chilly.

I will be draging or wearing a kayaking life vest. Just in case.

Thanks for all the input. The dope is always there. I’ll try to post a thread about how this works out.

Not sure.

She has claustophpia a bit. It was a big deal for her to overcome that to scuba dive. Scuba diving is very, very claustrophobic.

It has something to do with the ‘race’ and all the emotion going on before it. And swimming in a lake that is murkey. Can’t see a thing. I’m trying to figure that out my self.

As far as open water diving, she is fine once under the surface. But the last time we went, she got sea sick when she surfaced. We where in big swells. About 6-8 feet. She got got sea sick while waiting to get up on to the boat. Once in the boat. She threw up over the side. In the water that others where bobing around in.

Shit happens. At least she did not throw up in the boat. The boat captain,and handler saw it as an everyday occurance. The people still in the water where not too happy.

It is odd. She is a hell of a good swimmer.

From the triatholon sites and message boards that we visit, this is not uncommon.

I hope to help. Hell. I may have problems too. It’s strange.

My job is to find the right place to do this (I’m GIS) make sure it’s not a place where we will get run over by boats or disturb fisherman. And have a nice Sunday.

It’ll be intresting. I’m looking forward to it.

Damn, I wish you guys were down here… It’s summer, which means Junior Lifeguard season. I was going to suggest contacting a city that has the program and asking to train alongside them for the pier swims or 1 mile open water swims. I remember doing my open ocean mile swim and being okay as long as I didn’t look down- same for the pier swim. Actually, the pier swim was worse, as you could watch fisherman pull up all manner of sealife while you were waiting to start your swim!

I am a bit claustrophobic as well. I have never done any lake diving because I don’t like murk…

I will ask around for training suggestions though.

Hey EJ’s Girl

My Wife has hooked up with a triatolon group that practices in a gravel pit about a hundred miles away (Denver) she is going to hook up with them next weekend. This is the same pit that my wife did her ‘open water’ dive test to get certified for scuba.

I hope the lake swim tomorrow will give her more confidence.

The tri group she has hooked up with for next weekend seem like a great group of folks that are experianceing some of the same problems.

I’m still a bit worried about me getting cold, but I’ll deal with it. Still no responses about my original question.

Remember. I’m not a triatholete. But I am a diver. I’m comfortable in open water. We are going to try to find a cove a couple of hundred yards wide that my Wife can do laps in. My plan is to pace her a little bit in each direction (I’ll have fins on, booties and a shorty wet suit, and a kayak life vest [just in case something really goes wrong]), but for the most part stay towards the middle, just bobbing around and making sure things stay safe (look for boats etc.)

I think it would be a good idea for me to ware a t-shirt or fleece vest under my wet suit to help prevent the purging and replacing of water that gets warmed by the body. Water temp is maybe gonna be maybe 60 degrees.

Anyone try that? The t-shirt under the wet suit I mean. Think it would help?

I have never worn a t-shirt under a wetsuit, and a fleecy might get too heavy and soggy and saggy. I have been plenty warm in a full suit in water 60-65 F. Your torso will be fine in a shorty, but I think your arms & legs are gonna get cold…

Yeh. I tiink I start of with a t-shirt under the suit. The fleece vest will hold too much water near me and screw up the boyancy of the suit. A t-shirt shoud help keep the warmer water in my suit.

I think.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that a cotton t-shirt under a wetsuit was a bad idea, as it allowed to much water into the suit and prevented it from being warmed properly by your body. My google-fu is weak this morning, and I can’t find anything.

One other question. Why are you wearing a lifejacket and a wet suit? Assuming no weight belt, aren’t you already plenty bouyant? A PFD will keep your head out of water if you are unconscious, but it will also add a lot of drag. I used to do lots of ocean swims with just my wet suit top, hood and fins. If I got tired, I would just stop and lay on my back. All that neoprene worked fine to keep me afloat. YMMV esp. when discussing safety equipment.