Friday, April 20, 2007

Cold-water swimming gear check

I took all my new cold-water swim gear to the pool today to test it out before I actually try to use it swimming in an inlet near here.

Here are my results:
  • Warmup, 500 yards: 2:17/100 yard pace: fairly comfortable unrushed pace.
  • Frogger neoprene-lycra webbed gloves, 200 yards: 2:18/100 yard pace: Very warm, but very comfortable to swim with. Felt like my hands were sweaty. Didn't improve my speed any.
  • Neoprene socks, 2 mm, 200 yards: 2:24/100 yard pace: They were slightly large, and felt like swimming with floppy plastic bags on my feet. Uncomfortably warm, like sleeping in bed with wool socks on. Slowed me down slightly, but they didn't seem like they were in any danger of ballooning with water or slipping off my feet.
  • Body Glove neoprene hood, hooked under chin, 200 yards: 2:29/100 yard pace: The chin strap was slightly uncomfortable and constrictive, but not too bad. Didn't seem like it would chafe. Very warm also. I swam much slower than I thought with it on - the sound of the water was different in my ears and that may have affected my perception of pace.
  • Body Glove neoprene hood, unfastened and loose, 200 yards: 2:29/100 yard pace: Just to see what would happen if I got too hot or couldn't breathe well mid-race, I tried swimming with the chin parts loose and flopping. That did feel much cooler, and didn't slow me down any compared to swimming with it fastened. Good to know for emergencies, although I'll need to use two hands to unfasten it.
  • Pull buoy only, 200 yards: 2:10/100 yard pace: I wanted to check if I was slowing down just because I was getting tired. I guess not.
  • Breast stroke, 200 yards: 2:54/100 yard pace: I have to resort to this occasionally during swims for sighting, but use it rarely now. It feels clumsy and slow, and it is slow - 27% slower than my normal freestyle stroke.
I'm ready to test them out in actual cold water now for open water swim practice. It's all comfortable enough to swim in, but I can't yet gauge what is going to keep me warm enough, or conversely, make me too hot. I can't wear the webbed gloves during a race, but it would be legal to wear the socks and the hood if I need to. I'm just hoping that I either get very comfortable swimming in them or that the water suddenly gets warm enough that I don't have to wear them.

I also want to try a practice swim using earplugs. Some people say that cold water in their ears affects their swimming and balance. Although I haven't experienced that yet, I'd certainly like to avoid it.


Spokane Al said...

Could you give me a bit of insight into your Neoprene socks purchase? I have been looking but have not found any that were made for swimming. Perhaps I am looking in all the wrong places?

Lesser is More said...

Where exactly are you swimming? Seeing that there are no real open water swimming places to go in the DC area, I'd be interested to hear where you are swimming. The only open water swims in the area are races in places where you can't swim on a regular basis.

Nancy Toby said...

Probably I'll be doing most of my open water swims with my training buddy from his grandma's house on a creek near here, but there are triathlon groups that meet at Sandy Point next to the Bay Bridge outside Annapolis on weekends this time of year, once the water gets warm enough!

Nancy Toby said...

Note: I responded to Spokane Al backchannel with the eBay listing where I bought my neoprene socks.

Lesser is More said...

Might have to make a few trips out that way to get some open water swim practice. Thanks for the info.

ShirleyPerly said...

Interesting results. Were you wearing a wetsuit too during the swim or just the gloves, hood & socks?

Can you believe that the lap pool I usually swim in was 91 degrees yesterday? I could have used some hot-water gear or something to stay cooler.

Sara said...

I am preparing myself for cold-water swimming in the Kankakee River 1 hour south of Chicago. My friends think I'm nuts so I was glad to read your blog. I'm 50+ overweight; all summer I swim, bike. This winter I have starting walking- but I would also like to swim during the winter. I'm sure there are clubs for this sort of thing in Chicago but I am going to have a level headed friend spot me and I am going to start very slowly. Any suggestions