Damn That Dam

This weekend marked a milestone in my training when I had my first open water swim and also my first swim in a wetsuit. Who would have thought it could be so traumatic.

Problem number one when swimming in a triathlon wetsuit is that they are so tight. They are designed that way to keep the body sleek, and to stop water sluicing between the suit and your skin. This has the added disadvantage of restricting expansion of the ribcage, which is a problem if your plan is to both swim and breath at the same time.

Swimming in a wetsuit appears to require a whole new breathing technique that entails consciously using the intercostal muscles to super expand the ribcage thereby ensuring a full lungful of South Africa’s finest air. After a while it got easier as the suit’s neoprene expanded slightly in the water, but it was never comfortable. Hopefully practice will make it easier and less claustrophobic.

‘But’ as the adverts say, ‘that’s not all’.

I admit that when visualising my IronMan swim I obviously hadn’t thought the whole thing through, in particular the fact that only swimming pools have nice straight lines on the bottom to aid navigation. The farm dam I was swimming in was so dark and gloomy that I couldn’t even see my hands let alone the bottom of the primordial slime that the brochure quaintly described as ‘the farms trout dam’.

This made for some erratic progress until I eventually learnt that it was time to steer back toward the middle of the dam when I could no longer move forward due to swimming in the thick weeds that lined it’s edge . High Court judges have been known to drive in straighter lines than I was swimming in.

I desperately need to learn how to do sighting strokes. That or employ someone to paint a line on the bottom of Nelson Mandela Bay in PE come next April.