Friday, April 17, 2009

Wet Suit Fit

Did you read the prior blog on Wet Suit Shopping Tips??

Trying on a wet suit it a total experience and likely the experience is unlike any other in your like thus far. No other garment requires the strength and determination to try on. No other offers a full body fitting experience. It’s fair to say too, that no other clothing fitting asks for you to decide on a proper fit in an environment which contrasts with the environment in which you will perform in the garment. So, I offer these tips and a lot of luck.

Of the 3 suits you are to try on, you are looking for the one that goes on and off the easiest. Naturally each of you will be taller, sorter, thicker, thinner, wider and with different bumps and bulges. You will be surprised and likely elated when in your first suit as the fit is (likely) like nothing you’ve been in before. The suit should feel firm on your body but not overly constricting. Each suit will offer a feeling of constriction, so pick the one that offers the least of this sensation.
· Neck – When the vein/arteries are bulging in your neck it’s too tight. Along with a distinct strangle sensation.
· Chest – It should be firm but not so tight that you can’t take a deep long breath, like we do when swimming.
· Shoulders, arms and general body core - Feel free to swing your arms, stretch up tall in your streamline position (arms stretched above the head together), rotate the arms, twist in the waist, do a few squats, even a handstand if you can and the space allows.
· Thighs and Arms – Your thighs and upper arms should be able to handle a fair bit of pressure from the suit however it could be too loose. So check this out.
· Abs – Your mid section can take a fair bit of pressure too, so not to worry unless you find bending over totally impossible.
· Wrists – It can be too tight, making the exit difficult and too loose – allowing water to flow in and out of the suit.
· Ankles – Most suits, finally, ride fairly high on the calf and not right down at the ankles. Other wise, the same comment as was made for the wrists applies here.
· Zipper - Practice unzipping and rezipping a few times. For me, a critical deciding factor, as the coach, was being able to do it up by myself – not possible in all suit due to the design of the zipper – as I’m often the first person at the beach and am busy setting up or signing up athletes. This isn’t a huge factor for you as, hopefully, you will not be alone and it’s always good to buddy up for open water swimming.

Things not to base your decision on:
· Colour – the choice is likely mostly black in most cases. Just ignore the accent colour if possible.
· Usual Size – if you are regularly a medium and the large seems right, go with it. If you are a size ‘0’ and the one that fits is a 4, go with the flow.
· Price – it’s tough but if the most expensive one feels right, see if you can arrange to get it.

Wet Suit Try-on Do’s:
· Swim Suit - For some reason it is cool to be in a swim suit which covers no more than underwear, but somehow being seen in your underwear is not so cool. Don’t get caught up in this strange standard and wear your swim suit to the fitting.
· Changeroom Mirror - Be sure there is a mirror handy too as you will, at times, need to see what you are doing.
· Hair - If you have long hair bring along an elastic or scrunchy and tie your hair out of the way – a bun is better than a pony tail.
· Body Stubble – Give yourself a fresh body hair shave/wax/neet prior to the fitting day or wait for the hair to be a ¼ inch or so. It seems like a fine point but some body stubble can be tough and may inhibit your getting the suit on comfortably.

Wet Suit Try-on Don’ts:
· Some might suggest wearing sox or plastic bags on your feet. If you will not have these with you beach side, forget it! We are looking for the suit that is the easiest to get on and if you’ve got big wide feet, we’ve got to face this upfront.
· Baby Powder may be suggested, but not by me. Again, if you’re not going to have it beach side, don’t bother.
· There are several ‘glide’ products – silicone-based – used but they are there to assist with the rubbing of the suit when swimming in the suit and for an easy exit (they advertise). Although these are likely to help you getting in and out of the suit, imagine the condition of the suit if everyone used a bit of silicone – it would be too slippery to pull on. So, leave this out too!
· Jewelry and other piercings – be sure to remove any jewelry which protrudes remotely from the hands, neck, lips, ears, belly buttons, etc. Long earrings and neck chains are definitely out for this occasion.

And please, don’t Rush!
Rushing is likely to have you making a quick decision regarding the fit. Remember you will need a good 90 minutes to try on your 3 suits or more. And, try not to panic when getting in or out of the suit. When struggling to get out, you may find yourself falling over at some point into a display of tennis balls or something. Be mindful of your actions and think before moving – remain calm at all times!

Try to find some joy in your new purchase in the store and at home. Be confident that you’ve made the right choice under the strange conditions of fitting a wet suit. Really, the only true way to know if you’ve made the right choice is to swim in the suit.

Coach K

Wet Suit Shopping Tips

Wet Suit Shopping Tips

How is your Cold Water Acclimatization going? – see earlier blog.

So, you need a new wet suit? Cool, I think we all need to treat ourselves to comfort when it comes to a wet suit. From your research online, there are often so many on the market that the choice can be challenging, virtually. I do not recommend an online purchase of a first time wet suit. Plan to get out and visit a local store for this important purchase. Here are a few tips for picking the shop and how to prepare for the fitting.

I recommend that you first find a shop, local, that offers at least 3 different brands for try on. Consider going with a training buddy, if possible. Even better if he/she is buying too, as there may be a discount in the double purchase from the store. Some other things to consider when choosing the store are:
· Availability of Sales Support Staff - if there will be someone there the help you – 1on1 sales help – or be sure to take a friend (training buddy) with you.
· Temperature – you are likely going to sweat during the trying on process so pick a cool day or a store which had great air conditioning.
· Under Garment - Be sure to take along your swim suit or tri shorts and keep them on during your try on sessions. If the changing area is a tight cubical, don’t be modest. Get out into the hallway where you have room to move around. Don’t be shy with the sales person as they have likely seen it all by now and trying on the suit will have them right into your personal space. Now, there is nothing to read between the lines here. I’m sure all wet suit sales persons are on the ‘up and up’ when it comes to helping out clients, I’m just saying be prepared and be open to being slightly more exposed then what might be ‘normal’.

Right, so you picked to store. Perfect, here are a few more tips:
· Time: Pick a time that isn’t really busy. Saturday 2 pm is not a good time. Monday 9:30 am is a good time. You will need a good 90 minutes to try on your 3 suits.
· Washroom Visit: Oh, and be sure to go and have a pee (or more) prior to starting as with all the bending, sitting, standing, jumping on the spot, squeezing your abs, retching, struggling, huffing and puffing some ‘issue’ is likely to come up.
· Shower: Do us all a favor and have a shower before you go. You are going to break a sweat and will be in close proximity to either your sales help or your training buddy so be kind… if it’s in your nature.
· Sticky Deodorant: Don’t apply a heaping amount of deodorant either for this venture, just a thin layer will do. There is an expectation to sweat from the dealer’s point of view but they don’t expect your brand of deodorant all over the suits you are trying on.
· Nails: Long nails are totally out, unless you want to be responsible to purchase the first suit you try on by tearing the suit. Take a moment to trim your nails prior to the session. For the athletes with faux nails, I’m not sure what to suggest accept, for sure, those Dragon Lady nails are totally out! If they are those rounded type, that are sort of thick and not too long, it could work. Better, just wet suit shopping on one of your ‘cuticle breathing’ days.

So, with that, I think we’ve gotten all the personal formalities of picking the shop and preparing yourself for the fitting, out of the way. Next is your, likely to be unique, fitting experience.

Coach K

Cold Water Acclimatization

Cold Water Acclimatization

Our human bodies have the ability to acclimatize to being, some what, comfortable in colder environments. We especially can acclimatize to colder water.

The plan is to spend the next 3-4 weeks acclimatizing to colder water in your shower or bath. The process will take no extra time in your day and can be done during your current showering routine – assuming you shower daily.

You should start the acclimatization process at least 3-4 weeks in advance of your first open water swim. Basically you are going to begin showering daily at a slightly colder temperature, reducing the temperature of your shower water weekly. You could shower more than once a day for a better effect. Naturally bathing – bath tub – works too!

First, let’s define a shower. For the purpose of our conversation, let’s assume a shower is completely soaking and for more than 10 minutes. This includes getting your head wet for most of the time too – in fact, the head and face are both quite important in this process.

So in the first week, you’ll shower (at least daily) at ¼ less hot water, then you regularly do. Then, the next week reduce by ¼ again. By the 3rd week you are showering in nearly just cold tap water. On the 4th week, you should be able to handle showering in just cold tap water.

Now, I know this does not seem pleasant and in fact, showing in cold tap water in NOT pleasant. But the idea here is to take away the natural sensation of being cold. Currently, it is likely shocking to be in nearly cold tap water temperature for any short or long period of time. In 3-4 weeks, it will be ‘do-able’. You’ll have to just trust me on this – Suck it up buttercup!

Sure, you could start open water swimming with your wet suit or without – without acclimatizing. Eventually (a month or 2 down the road), you will get to the same place – acclimatized to colder water, however, if you start to acclimatize prior the experience will be so much more enjoyable. There is nothing worse than shivering so hard after 15 minutes that you can’t swim, talk, towel off, walk, change, or ride your bike to get home. If you get cold enough to be totally uncomfortable, it will take a good hour or 2 to totally recover. By following my suggestion above, you will be able to swim much longer without getting really cold and you will recover much quicker, should you get quite cold.

I know this works as I do this annually in Toronto prior to taking my athlete into open water for training – yes, I’m in the water with them! If I don’t do it, I just shiver away after 15 minute like everyone else. Nothing less motivating than the coach instructing with blue lips and shivering so hard you can’t understand the instructions!

Naturally we are all different and your response to the cold water and the cold water acclimatization will vary but you can be sure to have some gains in ‘cold water coping’.

Now, get up and go take a shower.

Coach K