Work out whether to wear a wetsuit or tow-float for your open water swims
There are several advantages and disadvantages to wearing a wetsuit for open water swimming – and you can even choose whether or not to wear one at Swim Serpentine.
If you decide not to wear a wetsuit at the event, it’s important to note that you must instead wear a tow-float for your safety. Read on to find out more!
Some words about wetsuits
If you wear a wetsuit, make sure it’s a swimming-specific wetsuit – this is the type worn by open water swimmers and most triathletes. Swimming-specific wetsuits – unlike those designed for surfing or diving – contain thin neoprene in key areas around the shoulders to make them more flexible and appropriate for swimming.
Be careful of chafing from your wetsuit during longer swims, though. To be on the safe side and keep comfortable as you swim, it’s a good idea to apply a lubricant like Vaseline around the neck and other potential areas for chafing.
- Wetsuits offer increased insulation, keeping you warmer in the water and therefore helping you focus on your swim rather than being cold. For important information about water temperature and how it could affect the time you can safely spend in the water – and your decision to wear a wetsuit – please click here.
- Wetsuits provide extra buoyancy – this helps some swimmers maintain a better swimming position, especially if their legs tend to ‘sink’ rather than float.
- Wearing a wetsuit means you can wear neoprene socks, gloves and a hat too – although if you wear a hat at Swim Serpentine you must still wear your event swimming cap over the top, as the colour of this cap is an important part of water safety at the event
- Some swimmers find that wetsuits restrict their movements
- Wetsuits can cause chaffing around the neck – but most swimmers combat this by using some form of lubrication
- Some experienced swimmers prefer to follow the Channel Swimming Association’s regulations, which advise against wearing neoprene – the material used in wetsuits – when swimming
Many people prefer to swim without a wetsuit. However, to swim in British waters without a wetsuit for long periods requires some acclimatisation and extra preparation.
For example, before getting into the open water, some non-wetsuit swimmers apply Vaseline onto the skin in chafing-prone areas such as the groin, underarms and around the neck.
If you’d prefer not to wear a wetsuit, then you must wear a tow-float – a widely-used safety device in open water swimming.
A tow-float attaches around your waist with a belt, which is attached to a short leash that tows an inflatable ‘buoy’ behind you. The tow-float provides increased visibility so you can always be seen in the water, and if you develop cramp or need a rest mid-swim you can simply hold onto the float rather than tread water.
Why not check out the tow-floats that are available to purchase from Swim Secure and watch the following video to find out more?