How I learned to stop worrying and love my wetsuit

Show me a woman who’s never had a traumatic experience involving jeans, a

My beautiful new wetsuit!

My beautiful new wetsuit!

bikini and a dressing room, and I’ll show you a freak of nature with whom I’m not sure I could be friends.

That said, I would rather try on jeans and a bikini in front of a live studio audience than try on a wetsuit.

My intense fear started before last year’s Great Chesapeake Bay Swim One-Mile Bay Challenge, when I ordered a rental wetsuit online based on my height and weight. I tried it the week before the swim, with a warning from my swimmer-friend Meredith that it’s OK if it’s tight.

A few hours later, she was assuring me that no, it should not be so tight it prevents you from breathing, and makes you feel like your intestines might come out your ears, and that perhaps her trusty IronMan wetsuit would fit me better.

It did, and I’m forever grateful for the loan, which saved me from dropping out of the swim entirely to save myself from the trauma of trying on another suit. But even in perfect conditions, wetsuits are really, really hard to get on. My first hint: Mer’s suggestion that I get some help from a can of PAM. Yes, the kind you cook with.

I’ve attached photos below of the amazing wetsuit dance that took place before last year’s swim. It started with me laying flat on my back on the grass, ended with me asking my friend Jessica to pick me up by the wetsuit’s shoulders and shake me around, and involved, at one point, me grabbing a chunk of cellulite from my left thigh and stuffing it into the leg of the wetsuit. Like I said, bring on the jeans and the live studio audience.

So it was with trepidation that I tried on a rental suit at the Bonzai store in Falls Church last week. The store’s owner/manager, though, was so kind and helpful, it actually made the process easy, like trying on jeans with your supportive and understanding best friend.

It costs $35 per week to rent a suit. I’m already planning to swim the 4.4-mile Bay Bridge Swim next year (I learned the 1-mile version I’m doing this year is referred to as the “Baby Bay.” Awesome.)  I asked casually if he had any suits on sale, hoping for some retail therapy to cure my anxiety about my sore hip.

He found a great-looking Blue Seventy longjohn for $100. I got excited. He didn’t have my size, but found a similar suit by a company called 19 for $190. I told him despite the amazing deal — it’s a $275 suit — I couldn’t do it.

“Would you buy it if I could give it to you for $100?” he asked.

Uhh, yeah!

I tried out the suit on Saturday, and I’m happy to report it’s amazing. I had to do some crazy maneuvering, and anyone at my pool on Saturday would be forgiven for thinking I was molesting myself while adjusting the suit. But it fits, and I am ready.

Today’s workout: a timed 1,000, an 1,800-yard ladder set, then the 8X25 set that has become one of my workout-ending standards (thanks, Mer!). Also, some BOSU work. Already looking forward to the tapering goodness in my future!


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5 responses to “How I learned to stop worrying and love my wetsuit

  1. All I can say is I love my wetsuit as well 🙂

  2. Courtney

    way to get an “economic crisis” discount. Loving that. never hurts to ask!

  3. great pics. love the markdown! can’t complain about that.

  4. Alexis Milam

    One word: SEXI

  5. Pingback: Training plan: Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim « Amy Reinink

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