Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, Wetsuits, and Water Temperature

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited June 2015 in General Discussion

Comments

  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member

    wendyv34 said: Those collapsible plastic water bottles go into a swimsuit pretty well: Where do you put it?

    The Bay Swim doesn't separate out non-wetsuit swimmers in the awards so most people wear wetsuits. Not that I've ever won an award, but I'll be wearing a wetsuit this year too.

    bluemermaid9
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    edited June 2015

    Not going to bash GCBS for their policy of not differentiating between skins & wetsuits; it is what it is. But for those of you who do not swim in the bay regularly, please note the water temp was a very comfortable 73.3 last Sunday morning. This week has seen air temps in the high 80's/90's plus the fact it is a late start time this year. It will be toasty warm, dare I say dangerously hot for those wearing wetsuits. I know why most choose to wear neoprene for this race. I ask, is it really worth the health risk to shave a few mins off your time?

    OnceaRunnerjroyerIronMikebluemermaid9
  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member

    I find the USAT Wetsuit rules about right. If it's below 78 I'll stick with the wetsuit, have done it before at this swim and others. I think it was 3? years ago there was hot water.

    If it's over it'll just be polka dots.

  • FrancoFranco Charter Member

    I didn't spend any time during the swim looking at the bents and piers but I did manage to spot @Kevin_in_MD still discussing them following the swim. Saw some forum members and plenty of other friends.

    Water temp was announced at 76 degrees but felt considerably warmer. 174/619 finishers went without wetsuits. That is the most non-wetsuit finishers I can remember in my 7 swims there. Maybe things are slowly changing at this swim. @JBirrrd, we even saw the polka dots.

    JBirrrd
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member

    Congrats on a another great swim @Franco , @Kevin_in_MD and everyone else who participated yesterday. Very glad to hear that so many people used common sense and left their wetsuits on shore. However, I am not giving the organizers of GCBS a pass. It is their policy that has created this situation. Even with the high temps of yesterday, many folks still felt pressured to wear a wetsuit to level the playing field. It is an easy fix. This event raises enough money to allow for a separate awards division. It is a well-organized machine and with the technology already in place it would not be difficult to identify those in wetsuits & those not. For the life of me I can't figure out why they won't do this.

    FrancojroyerIronMikedpm50
  • I was surprised how many people were in full sleeves! There were some spots were I felt I was swimming in a jacuzzi I can't imagine how hot it would have been with a wetsuit on.

    JBirrrd

    Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average.

  • Congrats to everyone who finished the 4.4 mile bathtub race! I was totally befuddled by the people in wetsuits as well...I have no idea how they didn't collapse from heat exhaustion just standing on the beach waiting for the start. There were a few cold spots in the middle where I had serious thoughts of stopping and treading water for a while. But, as nice as those were, they made the rest of the race feel even hotter. I am stunned that there wasn't even a mention in the pre-race meeting that it might be a good idea to leave the wetsuit on shore this year.

    JBirrrd

    Grappledunk's Slightly Soggy Blog: http://grappledunk.wordpress.com/

  • I didn't realize they didn't have separate awards for wetsuit and skins/ It gives me pause to think about my desire to do this race. In the long run I doubt it would stop me from swimming it but it would tick me off before and afterwards.

  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member

    Nothing to be ticked off about, really. You know what you are up against going in, so no stress and besides, afterwards you can wallow in your moral superiority. Just be careful - I was in a different race where they allowed wetsuits and afterwards a spectator asked me what I thought about competing against the wetsuit people when I didn't have one. My response was something like "Those people are the athletic equivalent of people who never brush their teeth" or something similar. One of the wetsuit people overheard me, got right in my face and started screaming at me. I just stood there until he finished his diatribe and then said, "Do you feel better now? Good, now go away." He stormed off.

    -LBJ

    IronMikeChrisgreenerosemaryminttimsrootdpm50

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member

    @Leonard_Jansen To me it is not about being morally superior (I know, I know, you were joking...kind of).
    There is absolutely no judgement here about the decision to wear a wetsuit in this race, or any. It is the fact that the choice is made more difficult b/c of the lack of differentiated categories. I no longer swim GCBS for this and other reasons, but many of my friends do. It is a huge event in MD & the surrounding area. I've only entered it once and yes, I wore a wetsuit. It was my 2nd ow race and I knew no other way, as it just seemed to be what everyone did. GCBS is a great intro to open water swimming, raises lots of money for charity, is exciting and seems in every other aspect a well-run event. BUT it is an accident waiting to happen.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    When competing in races where suits and skins are not differentiated, I've used a combination of gear that is "category 2 swimwear" but is not a wetsuit. I occasionally wear a Sailfish shorty swim skin and a pair of TYR neoprene arm skins against wetsuit swimmers.

    I'm not sure the swim skin helps a whole lot more than my slick Agon kneeskin racing suit does, because I already have good body position. I believe the arm skins are of some advantage because they increase the surface area of my forearms, although I'm thinking of cutting them off at the elbows because I don't like them squeezing my biceps.

    I think I'm roughly the same speed with or without my sleeveless wetsuit, so I don't worry too much about my results against wetsuits. I just keep in mind that the average wetsuit swimmer is probably getting 2 minutes per mile advantage, (some are getting lots more) so if they didn't beat me by at least that much, they probably wouldn't beat me without one.

    I've swam so many races that I've had the chance to race lots of people repeatedly and I've noticed that several people who I thought were unbeatable (by me) were, in fact, very beatable without their wetsuits.

    I was at a race on Friday night in a lake that was mid-70s. The majority of swimmers wore full suits. I don't know how they stood it because I was hot coming out of the water in just a swimsuit. I had my best time on that course and came in less than a minute behind the first woman wetsuit (you know what I'm thinking here). Fortunately, this race has separate categories and I went home with an apple pie.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    JBirrrd said: There is absolutely no judgement here about the decision to wear a wetsuit in this race, or any. It is the fact that the choice is made more difficult b/c of the lack of differentiated categories. I no longer swim GCBS for this and other reasons, but many of my friends do. It is a huge event in MD & the surrounding area. I've only entered it once and yes, I wore a wetsuit. It was my 2nd ow race and I knew no other way, as it just seemed to be what everyone did. GCBS is a great intro to open water swimming, raises lots of money for charity, is exciting and seems in every other aspect a well-run event. BUT it is an accident waiting to happen.

    Totally agree @JBirrrd. I was floored how many times I heard my triathletes (when I coached them with DC Tri Club) say things like, "Well, the wetsuit will help me with my body position," or "I haven't gotten much swimming in, but I'm using a wetsuit, so I'll be okay."

    I'd love to see an experiment where wetsuited folks' internal body temp is taken before, during and after a swim like this. I'd venture to say their temp is higher than 98.6. I'd bet that a full-wetsuited swimmer in 75F water feels about the same as Fran Crippen did swimming non-wetsuited in, what was it, 85F? (RIP, Fran.)

    It reminds me of the video of the Alcatraz swim where a man died. Just seeing those wetsuited folks struggling...it truly is an accident waiting to happen.

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member

    JBirrrd said: BUT it is an accident waiting to happen.

    Is the risk of heat injury higher than the risk of other issues during the swim at the temps that we had Sunday?

    When I consider the entirety of people at the race, I'd say "other" is much higher. To that end having people in wetsuits helps, at the very least it makes them easier to spot if they stop moving or struggle since they will be higher in the water.

    Considering only those of us posting here, I might say the opposite.

    If I were the safety officer, taken all together thinking of the 600 people in the water, I'd make the same call - I'd prefer to have more people wearing flotation than not.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited June 2015

    Kevin_in_MD said: If I were the safety officer, taken all together thinking of the 600 people in the water, I'd make the same call - I'd prefer to have more people wearing flotation than not.

    By simply changing the format of the results, and definition of "overall winners" to recognize separate categories, they would allow people who want to wear wetsuits to wear them, and allow people who don't want or don't need wetsuits to not wear them, without fear of being penalized in the results.

    They wouldn't have to change anything about the actual running of the race -- only the format of the results. So simple.

    I don't see how it improves safety to incentivize participants to wear swim apparel they're not comfortable with, just to have a fair shot at competing.

    slknightEricgregocLeonard_JansenIronMikeJBirrrdbluemermaid9
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    The swimmer who died in 2014, though, was an experienced swimmer, active in USMS, and on his 20th bay swim. Can't find any references to whether he wore a wetsuit, but the stories all say he had a heart attack--not sure if a wetsuit would have made a difference for him.

    That aside, I mostly don't use a wetsuit, and if that means I miss out on awards for that reason, so be it (not that I'd have a chance with a wetsuit either at my "speed"). I like the freedom of not wearing a wetsuit, as I don't like wearing constricting things while swimming--and on a hot day, I would think a wetsuit would be very uncomfortable and not even give a person any advantage b/c they'd be working so hard and overheating. But that's just my guess as a non-wetsuit swimmer.

    Personally, I don't judge anyone's choice of what to wear in a race. I go with what feels right for me, and if someone wants to wear a wetsuit (well, sometimes with friends, I'll tease them gently) :) I'm cool w/ that.

    evmo said:

    JBirrrd said: BUT it is an accident waiting to happen.

    Sad to say, that accident has already happened.

    In 2011: http://www.stardem.com/news/local_news/article_d1d91c2a-08f9-57ad-a353-9a81d3c0ce28.html

    And again in 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/attempting-20th-swim-across-chesapeake-bay-robert-matysek-dies-during-race/2014/06/09/7cf4c104-eff8-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

  • gtswimgtswim PennsylvaniaMember

    I've been holding off on posting, but feel that I need to get this off my chest.

    I swam the GCBS last year. I finished 6th in my age group, about 7 minutes behind the top three finishers. However, I was the first non-wetsuit finisher. From what I've read bout the time advantage of wearing a wetsuit, I very well may have finished in the top three.

    Going into the swim I really didn't care about where I placed and was only focused on completing the swim (my longest to date) and finishing under my goal time. After having time to think about it afterward, I do get a bit upset regarding my 6th place finish. But, I also realize that my swim and finishing time was all me without any artificial help. It's a moral victory, but still a victory.

    My feeling on this is that if they are going to give awards for top finishers, they should break out the skin and wetsuit swimmers and provide awards in both categories.

    grappledunkbluemermaid9swimmer25kJBirrrddpm50Jennifer
  • I looked at the results and they do break out skin results and rank them. The organizers need to spend a few bucks and reward the skin swimmers for their efforts. There are enough of them to make it worthwhile.

    bluemermaid9dpm50
  • bluemermaid9bluemermaid9 Boca Raton, FL, United StatesMember
    edited June 2015

    The 2015 installment of GCBS was my first one. I found the water at the beach warm, but not having ever done this race and not being from the area, I was afraid the water would be cold once we got away from the beach. I was one of those swimmers who did wear a wetsuit, and I wish I hadn't. I did succumb to the heat when I got to the Eastern Shore. You live and learn, I suppose. In the end it was my choice and my responsibility, but I wish the RD had cautioned swimmers that the water might've been too warm for wetsuits. I saw many a swimmer being treated for heat injuries.

    As for skins v. wetsuits, there should be two categories each with their own awards. I don't consider mixing categories fair to the skins.

    gregocOnceaRunnerJustSwimdpm50
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member

    I spent a few minutes looking over the Triple Crown swimmers and some of the site content at Triple > bluemermaid9 said:

    The 2015 installment of GCBS was my first one. I found the water at the beach warm, but not having ever done this race and not being from the area, I was afraid the water would be cold once we got away from the beach. I was one of those swimmers who did wear a wetsuit, and I wish I hadn't. I did succumb to the heat when I got to the Eastern Shore. You live and learn, I suppose. In the end it was my choice and my responsibility, but I wish the RD had cautioned swimmers that the water might've been too warm for wetsuits. I saw many a swimmer being treated for heat injuries.

    As for skins v. wetsuits, there should be two categories each with their own awards. I don't consider mixing categories fair to the skins.

    My one and only GCBS was in 1995. There were seperate awards for only the overall non-wetsuit male and female swimmers along with the all-encompassing "Overall" awards.

    I had a decent day even though my swim bag was lost.

    image

    bluemermaid9
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member

    gtswim said: I've been holding off on posting, but feel that I need to get this off my chest.

    I swam the GCBS last year. I finished 6th in my age group, about 7 minutes behind the top three finishers. However, I was the first non-wetsuit finisher. From what I've read bout the time advantage of wearing a wetsuit, I very well may have finished in the top three.

    Going into the swim I really didn't care about where I placed and was only focused on completing the swim (my longest to date) and finishing under my goal time. After having time to think about it afterward, I do get a bit upset regarding my 6th place finish. But, I also realize that my swim and finishing time was all me without any artificial help. It's a moral victory, but still a victory.

    My feeling on this is that if they are going to give awards for top finishers, they should break out the skin and wetsuit swimmers and provide awards in both categories.

    My thoughts are that if you're good enough to contend for a top position, you have no business wearing a wetsuit.

    wendyv34
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    While I haven't a chance at a top award -- whether or not I were to wear a wetsuit -- I agree that there should be wetsuit and non-wetsuit award divisions in races.

    But personally, I wonder if I'd feel so overheated wearing one that it wouldn't be much benefit. As bluemermaid mentioned, people were suffering from the effects of the heat by wearing them. The one time I wore one even in 50something degree water, it felt weird, constricting. But that's just my experience.

  • evmo said: https://db.marathonswimmers.org/events/great-chesapeake-bay-swim/

    This was my first OWS ever. In1989. :-O

    kejoyceCopelj26
  • slknight said: This was my first OWS ever. In1989. :-O

    I did this one in 1987 I think.....

  • swimfreeordie said:

    slknight said: This was my first OWS ever. In1989. :-O

    I did this one in 1987 I think.....

    Looks like you did it in 86!

    http://bayswim.awardspace.info/1986.pdf

    I was the 6th female in 89, but the first without a wetsuit. I was ticked off even back then that they didn't separate the awards. :))

    http://bayswim.awardspace.info/1989.pdf

    swimfreeordieJustSwim
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