So where do I stand in the great Skins vs Wetsuits debate? On the one hand, there are the views of all the wetsuit refuseniks. Why wear a wetsuit? they cry. They’re uncomfortable: they rub your neck, especially in salt water. Wetsuits can feel as though they’re restricting your breathing, particularly if they don’t fit properly, and some people dislike this so much that it puts them off wearing a wetsuit at all. They’re a fag: you need to lug them to the pool (or sea, or river), rinse and dry them afterwards. They come between your skin and the water, preventing you from fully experiencing the different element in which you’re immersed. This last is particularly important for wild swimmers who treasure their swims as a chance to intimately reconnect with nature. As already discussed, they confer what is arguably an unfair advantage, particularly in competitive events where there is no separate wetsuit category. And, the final unspoken objection: they are not “pure”; they move the swimmer away from the ascetic Channel rules of one costume, one hat and one pair of goggles, and thus get in the way of the essential struggle of the swimmer versus the swim, assisted only by his or her own body and the adaptions she or he has wrought upon it by training, acclimatisation and diet.
Oooh errr! What a place to stop! But my morning commute is nearly over (virtually everybody in the world seems to have gone away for the Bank Holiday, and I hope they have a very nice time, as they have left the tubes virtually empty and allowed me an unprecedentedly swift journey to the office – quel luxury, as I believe the French don’t say), so the counter-arguments will have to wait. More soon!