As regular readers know, I can be irritable on the subject of distinguishing between swimming and wetsuit-assisted swimming. So, I should offer credit where credit is due.
Today begins the 75th annual Semana Nautica sports festival – a grand celebration of the Santa Barbara lifestyle, with most events taking place in or near the ocean. Growing up, I participated in the age group swim meet at Los Baños Pool; nowadays, I do the open-water swimming events. Semana Nautica offers three ocean swimming races: 1 mile, 3 miles (both at East Beach), and 6 miles (Goleta Beach to Arroyo Burro Beach).
Semana Nautica ocean swims do not offer separate categories for wetsuits and skins. Actually, wetsuits are not allowed at all. If you show up in a wetsuit, your name will show up in the results next to the letters ‘DQ’. The entry form states bluntly: No swim fins, hand paddles, or wet suits allowed.
The 6-mile entry form takes it a step further:
As in the tradition of open water swimming, the use of wet-suits or other non-porous attire, kickboards, gold chains, booties, paddles, swim buoys, body suits, triathlon suits, fins, gloves, or other wimpy contraband will not be allowed. No exceptions!!
This policy is even more laudable in light of the unseasonably cold water Southern California has experienced the past couple summers – high-50s F (14-15 C). This year, to the relief of many, we’re already up to 63F.
Apparently, there are a couple ornery, old-school sea swimmers behind the scenes at Semana Nautica. Huzzah to them! Skin swimming is for swimmers. Wetsuit-swimming is for the other stuff.
Buck up, buttercups.