The other thing that irritates the heck out of skins swimmers, particularly those swimming in competitions, is, as Mr Ape pointed out yesterday, the speed factor. Swimming in a wetsuit makes you approximately 10% faster than you would be without it. This is partly the correction to your swimming position, partly the added buoyancy, and partly the sheer smoothness and streamlining granted by a wetsuit. A lot of wetsuits also have other fancy things like special grooves to channel the slipstream and ribbed panels on the inside of the lower arm to improve the ‘catch’ on the water. I personally have serious doubts as to whether these actually add any speed or whether they’re just put there by the makers to persuade people to buy their brand, but there’s no doubt that the implication is that the suit will make you faster.
That being so, most swimming events have, as I’ve said, separate categories for wetsuits and non-wetsuits, and those that don’t apply a penalty. The problem is, that still doesn’t even things out. Swimming Coniston last year, for instance, the time penalty applied for wetsuits was five minutes overall. Given that the winners took around two hours for the whole swim, the penalty should have been closer to twenty minutes, which would have put an awful lot more non-wetsuited swimmers, including some of my mates, on the winners’ podium. And even if the categories are separated, the overall results generally mix them up, so that the top two or three swimmers are always wetsuits. Fast non-wetsuit wearers find this miffing. If it was down to me, the categories would be separate, showing actual times, and the overall results would be time-adjusted, anyone wearing a wetsuit having their time increased by 10% (or you could reduce the non-wetsuit wearers’ time by 10% – that would come to the same thing). Sadly, since I am not yet Queen of the World, this excellent and fair solution will have to wait.
*No resemblance to any swimmers, wetsuited or non-wetsuited, intended. Except my mates, obviously. I mean to reference them. 😊