Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wetties... Yay or nay? Bondi-Bronte raises perennial issue...

There are a lot of things one could talk about regarding the Bondi to Bronte swim, but the most contentious point concerns wetties: whether they should be worn? Should they be allowed below a certain temperature? And if they are allowed, should wettie wearers compete with newd swimmers, ie in open company? What happened to the old Back of the Pack division, in which punters could use whatever swimming aids they like -- and wetties are a swimming aid -- whilst conventional swimmers relying on their own ability rather than the capacities of the level of scientific aid that they can afford, compete in the open divisions?

Tell us what you think...

And whilst you're about it, tell us what you thought of North Curly on Sat'dee, Toowoon Bay on Sat'dee, and Mornington, also on Sat'dee...


  1. For me, as someone down the back end of the peleton, it's a non-issue. Swimming beside other people, makes no difference if they have suits or not. To take the discussion further, in terms of prizes, it needs quantification. Just how many seconds advantage would a wettie give? One option would be to take a generous estimate ( slightly in favour of the unsuited swimmer ) and impose a handicap in allocating category prizes. But basically, who cares.

  2. I swam today, wasn't warm but with a bit of my wifes finest olive oil was certainly not cold enough to be a problem....So i have to say that wetty wearers really need to be classed separately. Whether it be marked on there finish time or just a completely different division, I'm not fussed....I'd like to know where I came with people competing like for like.

    I think the option to wear a wetsuit needs to be there, but surely one of the components of "ocean" swimming is the water temperature, which is just another factor to be over-come...And so the wetty wearers really need to be separated in some way from the rest...



  3. Take a chill pill - everyone knew the rules before the race. It's just a fun swim. There's bigger problems in the world. There's kids starving in the world.

  4. If people insist on wearing wetties, then they should be prepared to wear a time penalty for using one. If the wettie wearers swimming alongside me are prepared to add a 15 or 20% penalty to their finishing time to account for the advantage it gives them, I'd be happy with that.

  5. Nay. You've hit it on the head about wetties being nothing more than glorified (and expensive) floaties. As the last two weeks have shown, anything above 16-17 degrees is eminently swimmable by the vast majority of people. Above this, wetties should most definitely be relegated to the 'assisted swim' division and judged against each other, and not against the true ocean swimmers.

    That being said, I can understand why they were allowed with the slightly generous official temperature measurement today. While it was a good 2 degees warmer than Coogee, in such a massive event -with twice the numbers last week- and over a much wider stretch of coast, it was fair call to allow all the newbies who wanted to suit up to do so.

    And a fun swim nonetheless. Congratulations too to the winner for his sizeable 90-second lead on second place, and most excellent catching the breakers into Bronte for the finish a good ten minutes further back. It's always good to compete in this event, but I'm very much looking forward to some of the upcoming swims this season where the non-commercial charm really sets the tone for the day.

  6. Wet suits should be categorised differently . I know this opens a can of worms , how many waves etc.. But how can you allow people to wear suits that can give up to 2-3 minutes + advantage over a 2km distance?. I am a triathlon coach and I know that a $300 suit can turn a very average swimmer into a very competitive swimmer.

    I walked home Bronte back to Bondi yesterday with an elite swimmer who felt he had to wear his suit so as not to give away advantage to swimmers of lesser ability ( nothing to do with temperature ) On that matter , I question the need for suits at all yesterday , sure there were a few cold spots , but there was plenty of 18+ water out there too . I could not argue with him , so therefore anyone that wants to be competitive will need to wear a suit when they are sanctioned.

    I am all for safety first , and by all means allow people to wear them for this reason only , but they should not qualify for prizes in the general category ever!!! . Lets keep a degree of decorum in this great sport and not let it be tainted by equipment junkies and unfair advantages. A cap, goggles and pair of swimmers + raw ability = fair.

  7. On the great wet suit debate, whilst there were some spots of cold water on yesterday's swim, it was certainly warmer than Coogee the previous week and I question the need for a wet suit when the water temp is 17+C (certainly if you wish to compete for a prize)

    As one who can confidently assert, i'll never win a prize, I do track my results year on year to see how I fared against swimmers in my age group. As conditions for each swim are unique, your finish time becomes arbitary with a more representative figure being your position within your age group wave.

    I certainly have no objection to those wishing to participate in any swim wearing a a wet suit, it's a comuunity sport after all, but for those that do go 'old school' it would be nice to know that there swim time was acknowledged as was 'unassisted'

    Nicely done (as allways) to the organisers of yesterday's swim, but as someone who didn't get off Bondi to 11.15am, not sure 2 x 10 minutes breaks within the waves was entirely warranted.

  8. To anonymous, above:

    Sadly, I think you're missing the point regarding the starving children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    The true tragedy is not that they can't afford to feed themselves, but more that they can't afford wetsuits in order to remain remotely competitive in the local ocean swim series.

  9. I wasn't at Bondi yesterday but am curious about the results and the conditions of the swim and hope someone can enlighten me. The Grimsey fellow in the elite wave seemed to give the other elites a lesson in swimming or did he just catch a wave at the end? Did the others get a bit lost or is he just that good? Also, some age groupers who did pretty well in the Coogee swim seemed to have slow times when they entered as elites in Bondi2Bronte. Were the conditions such that the waves you struck getting in and out made a big difference to your times? Or were the buoys set really far apart and people were swimming different courses. Any comments on this would help understand what the swim was actually like.

  10. I asked the question about the conditions at Bondi yesterday and how it might have affected the results. Then I looked at some photos of the day. Clearly the difference is the wetsuit issue so I checked out a couple of articles on this subject and pasted the Abstracts below, if anyone is interested. It's just evidence of the wetsuit advantage and who they advantage.

    To determine the influence of body composition upon swimming performance with and without wetsuits, 14 competitive female swimmers (mean (s.d.) age, 19.9 (0.9) years) were measured for body density while wearing both wetsuits and normal swimsuits. Subjects swam 400 and 1500 m trials with and without wetsuits, randomly, over a 12-day period. Six subjects participated in an additional trial while wearing neoprene leg-bands fitted over the wetsuit. Mean (s.d.) subject density without and with wetsuits was 1.048 (.009) and 1.021 (.007) g/ml respectively. Wetsuits reduced (P less than 0.05) swim times for the 400 (-4.96%) and 1500 m swim (-3.23%) compared with swimsuit trials. The neoprene bands increased (P less than 0.05) swim times relative to swimsuit and wetsuit trials. With wetsuits, swim times were inversely (P less than 0.05) related to density for the 400 (r = -0.46) and 1500 m swim (r = -0.54) suggesting that wetsuits increase performance by increasing buoyancy and that lean subjects benefit more from wearing wetsuits than do fatter subjects.

    Wet suit effect: a comparison between competitive swimmers and triathletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 580-586, 1995. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the wet suit effect on 8 swimmers and 8 triathletes. For swimmers, the performances of a 400-m swim with and without wet suit were not statistically different (4 min 12.5 +/- 8 s vs 4 min 13.9 +/- 4 s) while for triathletes the swim times were reduced by 19 s (4 min 45.8 +/- 34 s vs 5 min 04.7 +/- 30 s, P > 0.01). For swimmers, VO2max, and blood lactate measured with the wet suit were lower than without (P > 0.01), while for triathletes stroke rate was significantly higher with the wet suit (P > 0.01). For the whole group, the individual differences of performance were related to the blood lactale differences (r = -0.68; P > 0.01) and to the hydrostatic lift (r = 0.63; P > 0.01). For swimmers, the energy cost of swimming and the gliding ability were not statistically different with or without wet suit, while for triathletes they were significantly lower and decreased with velocity. It is concluded that the wet suit effect improves performance more in inefficient swimmers with low buoyancy, swimming at low speeds

  11. To: T Clifton

    No matter how carefully you choose your words, they will always end up being twisted by others . . .

  12. Hi, im a long time reader first time blogger

    I dont have time to read all the comments above, as I have a busy training shedule to keep. However the comment which consistantly arose on the weekend was that 'its okay for everyone to wear wetsuits, except the elite'.

    This old school way of thinking that the elite are invincible, is ridiculous and will not be tolerated in the swimming community. I competed in an open water world cup race in dubai last month, where the great american swimmer Fran Crippen tragically drowned. He was usa's best, and would have been a HUGE contender for the 10km at london olympics 2012. Obviously safety must be improve at these type of events, but that is another issue altogether.

    My point is the ocean can throw dangerous conditions at the best of us, most competent swimmers. nobody is invinsible.

    It comes down to the organisers and lifeguards of these events who decide on wetsuits. These are the people who know the beach, rips,currents and conditions better than anyone. These are also the people we rely on to rescue as if need be. Who are we to question it.

    PS. I apoligise for my spelling, am typing on my phone. And to the person a few comments up, no I did not catch any waves unfortumately, maybe next time

    Kind regards,

  13. Like Colin Marshall, I'm all for the simplest equation for ocean swimming. But can a race organiser reading this thread let us know what is possible to administrate when faced with low ocean temperatures?

    For instance, is the following scenario possible:

    1. Participants tell organisers when they register that they plan to wear a wetsuit.
    2. Organisers add a 10% or 15% penalty on their time.
    3. Everyone is eligible for prizes, based on their real or handicapped time.

    This would form a level(ish) playing field, and it doesn't completely exclude those who really feel the cold. They could still win a prize (albeit more fairly and without so much whinging from everyone else).

    Are there any race organisers reading this who could tell me how difficult a procedure this would be to administrate? I know we swimmers always bleat on, but it would be nice to hear from someone who actually puts on these events.

    Oh, and for Anonymous above, yes Grimsey (and his brother for that matter) are that good.

  14. Hi, im a long time reader first time blogger

    I don't have time to read all the comments above, as I have a busy training schedule to keep. However the comment which consistently arose on the weekend was that 'it's okay for everyone to wear wetsuits, except the elite'.

    This old school way of thinking that the elite are invincible, is ridiculous and will not be tolerated in the swimming community. I competed in an open water world cup race in dubai last month, where the great american swimmer Fran Crippen tragically drowned. He was usa's best, and would have been a HUGE contender for the 10km at london olympics 2012. Obviously safety must be improve at these type of events, but that is another issue altogether.

    My point is the ocean can throw dangerous conditions at the best of us, most competent swimmers. nobody is invincible.

    It comes down to the organisers and lifeguards of these events who decide on wetsuits. These are the people who know the beach, rips,currents and conditions better than anyone. These are also the people we rely on to rescue as if need be. Who are we to question it.

    PS. I apologise for my spelling, am typing on my phone. And to the person a few comments up, no I did not catch any waves unfortunately, maybe next time

    Kind regards,

  15. Odd that no "T.Clifton" is listed in the results from yesterday's swim. Obviously must have been assisting those "poor unfortunates" unable to afford a $300 suit....

  16. could we please have a three day weekend so that swims can be more spread out and i don't have to make such difficult choices? highly recommend towoon bay for anyone who couldn't get there on saturday. also recommend checking directions prior, so that you don't get there just in time to grab a swim cap, put on goggles and jump in as the gun went off (like i did)...

  17. To wetsuit, or not to wetsuit. That is the question. But what is the answer. As a non-wetsuit wearing member of the ocean swimming community, I feel that the wetsuit wearers of this world should be placed in a division of their own. By all means swim in the predetermined age groups but when time recording and placings occur there should be 2 definite placings systems - the non wetsuit and the wetsuit.

    Anyone who seriously considers themselves competitive shouldnt feel proud of themselves if they place in a field of non-wetsuit wearers as its not a level playing field so to speak.

    With that said, who in their right mind would want to wear a wetsuit in Sydney on the average summers day to do an ocean swim - you must be mad! An anomolous 15c day is understandable but when the water is often 20c plus you would have to have rocks in your head (or ice in your veins).

    On a serious note, the swim on Sunday was a ripper. Enough of a swell to keep me guessing, hot sun beating down on me and water safety crew in abundance telling me where to go in the nicest possible way.

    Thank you safety crews and keep up the good work. Without these volunteers there would be no wetsuit debate as these events wouldnt happen.

    P.S. I own a swanky expensive wetsuit - just think its a bit soft of anyone to wear them in summer unless you are built like a whippet or the water is 15c

  18. As one of the great wetsuit wearers I'm all for it..... The added warmth and buoyancy during the swim is a trade off with the humiliation of getting in and out of it to an audience of shaking heads.

  19. Many people spend three hours every year doing water safety for the bondi to bronte swim, from the junior 400 till the end of the main race. Its fun and swimmers are mostly pleasant to deal with. Its disconcerting to read complaints about wearing wetsuits etc. The vast majority of people are doing the swim for the experience. We want them to get there safely, without cramping. If you want to complain about wetsuit rules, go and swim in events where there are FINA rules if you have the ability. Otherwise, chill out and enjoy yourself.

  20. Oh to swim in 20c water and not find it cold - lucky you!

  21. There was a nice logical debate happening with this blog but, as happens all too often, those threatened by logical debate resort to an 'appeal to emotion' type argument. We have the "think of the starving children" throw away line, the "someone died" conversation stopper and more recently the "you can't say anything bad about an event with voluteers" attempt at inducing guilt. These arguments are put forward by those trying to kill thinking and debate. At best it's the product of a small worst it's a form of censorship.

    "Won't somebody please think of the children".

  22. Wettie or no wettie??? Thats a personal choice but as a very competitive ocean swimmer, I do believe that the elements, whether they are the surf, visibility, current or chill factor are all a apart of this sport and what makes it so challenging. I do understand that some swimmers would not be able compete if not for wearing wetsuits. No I don't think their times should be part of the "newd" swimmers.
    Great OZ Swims this year as part of their inaugural swim had a catergory called "anything goes". Swimmers had wetsuits, flippers, pullbouys etc... And I thought this was a great way for less confident swimmers to be part of such a great sport.
    So yes, if you feel the only way you can ocean swim is with a wettie, than go for it, but know that your result should only be counted with the other wettie swimmers.
    Aquagirl if you're reading this....STAY NEWD!!!! My squad looks forward to my Aquagirl update.
    And for the WETTIES...if it takes a wetsuit to ocean swim....then go for it!!

  23. Bahaha I can tell by John’s post he thinks he’s obviously highly educated, big minded and logical. Everything everyone else is not. Think of the children John!


  24. Personally I like wet suit wearing swimmers for two reasons;
    1- sharks like anything what looks like a seal, so to all you wet suit wearers thanks for the decoys.
    2- I swim in the older divisions and my place in the swim always improves with plenty of wet suit clad females as the glisterner swims in every direction.
    regards the peach farmer

  25. Upon re-reading the blogs for both this week and last week, it seems there is at the very least some fairly significant common ground, as follows :-

    - Despite the broad range of associated viewpoints, 90+% of people are happy if wetsuits are allowed in every normal race, in a separate wave and excluded from prizes / comparison with the newdies ¹.

    - After the fun at Coogee, no-one seems to dispute that it's probably sensible to let anyone who wants to wear a wettie ² do so below (say) seventeen degrees, if only to save the water safety people from exhaustion.

    This seems to cover the vast majority of the debate. And if we have achieved consensus this early in the season, how wonderful - means I can get back to browsing the Oxfam catalogue for prezzies for the friends and family ³.



    ¹ They can perhaps pool their wetsuit off-cuts and get together a patchwork prize for the category winner each week?

    ² For the record, Tony Clifton ain't gonna be wearin' no darn sissy suit.

    ³ Though I'm having trouble finding the wetsuit section in amongst all the (much less useful) gifts of livestock, bore holes and assorted sanitation devices?

  26. In the world of triathlons if the water temp. is below a certain pre-determined figure then wet-suits are optional. If it is above then they're not permitted. Can't see a problem here if it same applied to ocean swims. In Qld probably wouldn't get to see one, in Vic probably see them used widely, in NSW at the season's extemities you might have a case to consider....

  27. We don't like to intervene in these debates, figuring this forum is for you lot, not us. But, sometimes, some things need to be said... but we won't.

    Instead, we'll take up the point from Tony Clifteon, above, noting broad consensus that wettie wearers can wear them, but not in open company. Unfortunately, it's not swimmers who determine these things, it's swim organisers. The trick is to get swim organisers to take up this point.

    Some have run Back of the Pack divisions for some years, so the GAS series' Anything Goes division is welcome, albeit nothing new. But we need swim organisers to put the wettie wearers into Back of the Pack divisions, and to enforce them, which generally means take note of swimmers who cross the line in wetties then change their category classification in the results. That's where the work, and forethought comes in, and that's why it's no simple thing to get it done.

  28. Hi os.c,

    A quick point on the above - if wettie wearers can only go off in the back of the pack, then it should be pretty easy to make sure that they don't start in any of the regular waves. They're pretty easy to spot, after all?

    And then you don't need to do anything at the end, as you already know which wave they've gone off in, and they only get counted against that division anyway. Back to the Oxfam catalogue, it seems.

  29. Not so fast there, Oxfam guy... Your simple solution ignores the fact that the cold water that arrived suddenly for Coogee, and not quite so suddenly at Bronte, means lots of wettie wearers are entered already in non-wettie divisions. The work comes in in switching them from non-wettie to back of the pack, then policing those divisions to ensure that you catch them all. Wettie wearers can be pretty sneaky, after all.

    So, your task now, once you've completed your Oxfam shopping, is to devise a workflow plan for volunteers to deal with this switching, and to sell it to organisers who may or may not be prepared for sudden upwellings from the deep.

    Not saying it shouldn't be done, but the hardest part in any invention is not the idea, but the implementation.

  30. Hi again, thinking about it it doesn't seem so bad. Consider the following:

    Before the day:

    People register as normal, independent of the temperature. Wetties always go into a separate division, with their own cap colour.

    On the day, if wetsuits are not allowed due to temp:

    * Wetties start in their own wave with their own cap colour, and are counted separately from the nude swimmers

    On the day, if wetsuits are allowed due to temp:

    * People who originally registered as a wetsuit still start in their own wave, with the corresponding cap colour of the wetsuit wave. Their results are counted together with the nude swimmers.

    * People who registered in their age group (nude) can swim with or without wetsuits, start as normal in their own wave with their age group cap. Results are combined with the same gender/age in the wetsuit wave

    If the cap colours are policed correctly at the start (which is usually fairly strictly enforced, and easy to do) then there are no problems at the end?

    Best post two weeks in a row, I should really stop posting under assumed names to get me some Squire ;)

  31. Dear T Clifton

    Now that you have solved the wetsuit problem can you please resolve the rest of the world's problems (and maybe you can get J Assange to help you!) the children are waiting...

    Ps Can I suggest black as the cap colour for the wetsuit wave.

  32. Wet suits I feel it is a personal choice, having taught children to swim for many years I wore a wet suit not only to keep warm but to protect my skin ( I don't think the later worked ) found it very hard to swim in the pool in a full wet suit. Being an older swimmer I know wet suits have come a long way since then but my personal opinion is that wet suits would slow me down heaps and I would not feel disadvantaged if other swimmers were wearing them , I am an arm swimmer ( hopeless leg action ) so I find them very restrictive.
    I must say I agree with Liz Hill on the towoon Bay swim mark it on the calendar for next year. It was great very relaxing, good conditions and a great day out , will place it with my other favourite , Caves beach.

  33. So am I concluding from this chain that we are saying that below a certain temperature, wetsuits will be allowed? Surely not, massive advantage.

    At Coogee I swam newd for the 1km - there was no way I could get back in the water without a wettie for the longer swim. As I pulled it on I knew I was making myself ineligible for a prize - and I was totally ok with that, I just wanted to be able to go out and do the swim. Surely those who were wearing wetties purely for the ability to be able to participate in the cold are all of the same mind?

  34. It seems now that it is generally accepted that wetsuits are OK to wear & all races need a wetsuit wave - woohoo!
    A few years ago I started a campaign to have a wetsuit wave for 2 reasons which would help race organisers attract more competitors (generally Surf Clubs raising funds):
    1. To bring marginal swimmers into this great sport & feel safe.
    2. To allow triathletes an avenue to practice wearing wetsuits in race conditions.
    Wetsuits are faster & I have never asked for wetsuit swimmers to win prizes against non-wetsuit wearers. Race organisers can now work out how they to deal with this, but please remember that if it is legal to wear wetsuits, then those doing so may well win!
    Am I happy the water temperature dropped for the last 2 weeks? You bettya!

  35. I was the original organiser of our local fund raising swim 20+ years ago. I was probably the first on the west coast to introduce the 'wet suits allowed but wearers will be ineligible for prizes' ruling. This is the only way to go as it includes everyone therefore increasing $$$ raised and improves safety regardless of conditions. The onus has to be on the wet suit wearers doing the right thing and telling organisers they intend wearing one. Here is the question do you trust wearers to do this?

    Lets face it we all swim open water because we love it. It's not our training, it is our passion...

    I personally HATE wet suits with a passion. I continue to swim in the ocean year round, never in a wet suit. I have tried them but they are so restrictive, it just goes against every reason I'm out there in the first place...

    And yes, I once would have been considered elite, just age group now.!!!

  36. Hi Spot, one of the points that seems to be fairly commonly accepted (so far) is that wetties should be excluded both from standard prizes and comparison with the normal swimmers.

    Hence the suggestion above that you might like to organise your own prizes for the wetty wave (but what do you get the competitor who already has everything?)

  37. I am with Spot. If the race rules allow wetties I will wear a wettie. If the race rules allow an open water suit, I will wear an open water suit. If the race rules allow only speedos, I will wear speedos.
    No point in knowing what the rules are before the race (the Bondi to Bronte race orgainsers sent out a very clear e-mail well before the day explaining the wettie rule for this year) turning up wearing speedos and then b!tching and moaning about being beaten by a wettie wearer when the rules are clear.
    If you are going to be competitive, adjust your wardrobe to allow for whatever the rules allow. If you are not going to be competitive, then enjoy the swim - that is what most people are there for.
    For the record, I raced in the elite category where unless a miracle wave came in from NZ that noone else could catch and I happened to pick up (chances of this are about 1 in 100,000) I had no chance of winning, and being in the elite category, I was not eligible for my age group, so I did not do any age category swimmers out of their 1st, 2nd or 3rd place towel by wearing my wettie.

  38. All this blogging about wetsuits is great, but is anyone who can actually do anything about it reading? Possibly? Possibly not?
    This blog is a useful and open format. It is as a central think-tank and open discussion conducted by a large number of stakeholders in open water and ocean swimming: mug punters, amateur swimmers, casual swimmers, weekend competitors, lap swimmers looking for an outlet/motivation to keep them going. But the general consensus arrived here will possibly not be noted by any individual clubs organising any of the separate oceanswims/open-water swims on any given weekend. Or maybe one or two will take note. The trouble is that the swims are all run independently by separate clubs and bodies. Each swim is run by a different club/body. So the rules for each swim change depending on the organiser.
    The best solution is to have a central body, which can be used as a vehicle to communicate the desires of the ocean swimming community in regard to some basic rules. These basic rules can be passed on to every club wishing to organise an ocean swim. That will make their job as organiser easier, as the rules are already in place. The best central body/person appears to be the author of this very web-site (sorry Paul). If the said web-site author communicated to each swim organiser this overwhelming desire of punters, the organisers for each event would hopefully be willing to concur (bar possibly the Cole Classic which has gone commercial, and has a mind of its own, but I’m sure the sway of os.c could influence Fairfax ltd.... maybe not...). Our trusty website author would not be the sacrificial lamb sent to the slaughter. We could have an open ballot or petition to be signed by motivated individuals to show the overwhelming desire to put any new rule in place. This could then be shown to the race organisers as proof of our desire for a certain rule. Any petition should only be started after open and frank discussion, such as has been happening over the wetsuit issue for the past few years.
    e.g. It seem there is consensus that wetsuits only be allowed below 17 degrees, but wetsuit wearers should be noted in some way (either swim in their own wave or penalised 10-15% of their time). Above 17 degrees no wetsuits should be allowed, and once the decision is made on the day, a volunteer could wander through the crowd and ask any sneaky wearers to remove their suit? Otherwise swim in a “back-of-the-pack group” and not compete against nude swimmers.
    Many swims are going with electronic timing chips these days. Those swims could be easily monitored by simply putting the timing chip for wetsuit wearers in a separate bin/bucket. One volunteer at the finish line could be allocated the role to remove timing chips from wetsuit wearers and have their own separate timing chip bucket. Other volunteers at the finish line should know of this procedure and could help out if a large group of wetsuit wearers come across the line together. The timing chips could be taken to the central time keeper’s desk at the end, and the number on the timing chip could be read out to the timekeeper, who could adjust the times of the wetsuit wearers according to the rule that has been agreed upon and stipulated.
    The main problem again is to get a central body that is able to communicate with all clubs. The clubs are running these swims for the community, and more than likely want to keep the punters happy and coming back next year. We, as the swimming community would be happy (it seems from the blogs above) if there was a central body of rules around wetsuits at the very least. As time goes by and the rulebook evolves, other rules that keep coming up could be discussed (in an open forum such as this) and resolved to be added to the rule book. Only those rules deemed to have overwhelming consensus could be added. It seems there would only be a few rules that would need policing at every event to keep the punters happy.
    This is the first step that needs to be addressed otherwise we will still be talking about this issue in 2020...

  39. If the race does not have timing chips, and the timers at the finish line are writing the times on post-it notes, then they could have a specific colour post-it note to write the times of wetsuit wearers. Each time-writer could have two colours, one colour for newd swimmers, and one colour for wetsuit wearers. As each person hands their time to the central timekeepers desk, the volunteer at the desk could put a symbol next to the swimmer’s name, and the appropriate addition of time (e.g. X 1.15) could be done at the end, when all times are collected and the sorting and collating is being done.
    Also when I wrote: “a volunteer could wander through the crowd and ask any sneaky wearers to remove their suit”, this could be at the start line as swimmers line up in their waves. The volunteer would ideally be a member of the club’s organising committee, with a firm grip on the procedures. That volunteer would not be looked upon harshly as they wander through the crown at the start line, in fact I’m sure they would be helped and applauded by the crowd as they identify and deal with wetsuit wearers.
    Again, let’s get some movement happening and turn talk into action. A central body is needed, which is recognised as a vehicle of communication with all the individual clubs that run these events. The wetsuit Issue could then be resolved, and any new issue could then be further discussed (in an open format, such as blogging on this website) and resolved. Otherwise we’ll all be discussing this wetsuit issue next year, and the year after, and the year after, and so on...

  40. Wetsuit issue, I'm beginning to suspect that you're actually a closet wetsuit supporter trying to cloud the issue under the guise of helpful advice, by making it seem way too hard to categorize wetsuits separately, so everyone just gives up and lets them swim in open competition.

    And if this is the case, I think you've come about as close to succeeding as is humanly possible. If not, I sincerely hope that your posts are an elaborate parody of this whole debate, good effort if so.

  41. I think the beauty of ocean swimming is the lack of rules. Start time; around the bouys; cross the line; that's it.

    It is not a rugby match.

    Mr August 2009

  42. Why does everyone think wettie wearers are dishonest and untrustworthy?

  43. Hahaha Funniest blog ever !!!
    Good work, bloggers

    Looks like wetsuit wearers have become the newest minority group to be persecuted on our shores

    Anyhow, our cold water has now been pushed back to the southern ocean, ocean temps up to 21c today.
    Time to put the body gloves away until next season

  44. I'm not a wetsuit wearer. I prefer to have no assistance. It is not too hard to have one ruling on wetsuits for all clubs. It is very easily actually, the advice above is quite simple. All we need is a centrally recognised communicating body. This body can be used to approach the organising clubs. It would be easy for each club to allocate one volunteer at the start and one at the finish to be in charge of wetsuits. Possibly even the same volunteer could do both jobs (start and finish). Guess we'll talk more on this subject next year, and the year after, and the year after, and so on...

  45. There should be 2 categories, wetties and naked, simple. I did the Bilgola swim and with not much fat on me, it was cold! It was hard to find a rhythm at first and my arms were a tad frozen by the end, not to mention the ice cream headache. Not the coldest swim I've done, but cold nontheless.
    If I had a wettie on, it would've been a different story. As a triathlete, all my tri friends hate the thought of not wearing a wettie, to the point they will pull out of a race if it is deemed to be 'non-wetsuit'. Pathetic?? YES!! It's slightly annoying to also find that swimmers of much lesser ability were only a couple of minutes behind (wearing a wetsuit) where normally it's more like 5+ minutes - like for like.

    It would just be nice to see a ruling either no wetties or a separate category so we can actually compare properly. Sure, the water's cold but that's not the reason my tri buddies wear their wetsuits, it's because of the advantage and the weaker the swimmer, the more advantage they gain. The Mona Vale cold water (not) classic had 2 categories - is it that hard to do?? Wetsuit at an ocean swim...that's un-Australian!

  46. I am an older ocean swimmer ( swimming most days throughout the year in the ocean).

    I have been competitive at National level in "Speedos", in years gone by. I started my ocean swim/surf career in the 1950's, through to recently swimming Ocean Swims up to 10klm, plus have competed in a number of Maui Channel /Waikiki Rough Water/ Hawaiian Ironman events etc. all without a Wetsuit.

    HOWEVER I just can't understand the anti Wetsuit mentality of some. My reasons being:

    1. wetsuit swimmers can be excluded by the race organisors from eligibity for prizes, as they see fit.
    2. it encourages more people to compete - see the growth in the Victorian and NZ swim fields.With the obvious financial/charity "spin-offs". The vast majority of the fields wear wetsuits. This is not just because of the water temps.,which often exceed 20C.
    3. it unquestionably provides for a far safer event.
    4. it keeps swimmers involved for longer/gets more involved.
    5. in colder water e.g. Tasmania, Victoria, NZ, Alcatraz etc. the option is there to wear a wetsuit anyway. The organisors of the Bondi to Bronte 2010 saw fit to include Wetsuits, a competitive swimmer therefore needs to have one in his/her kit, if and when needed!I believe email notice was given.
    6. I have certain races I compete in , in a wetsuit, to challenge my past personal best. I'm frankly not interested in where I finish in my division, (as I have opted out by wearing a wetsuit); but I do like to see, being older, where I finish overall (say top 20/25%), and am elated if I "knock off" or get close to my PB.
    7. I see no need for a "back-of-the-pack" Wetsuit wearers' division. This implies a punishment for wearing one and discourages participation - as I think is generally the Race organisor's intent. My peers seem to take absolute delight in beating me, if and when I wear mine, in training or otherwise!
    8. If I have a wetsuit swimmer next to me, in an event, I see it as an additional incentive to at least "hang in". I do not see my fellow competitor as someone that should be excluded/ostracized. N.B.There is no argument that wetsuits are quicker, but this I believe is less pronounced with a naturally gifted swimmer because of their better body position/technique.Tests support this contention.
    9. A good fitting wetsuit also elevates your ocean swimming experience and allows you to exercise for longer in cool conditions.
    10.The only exception I see in the outlawing of Wetsuits, would be swims in warmer more tropical waters, to prevent hyperthermia. Sports medicine advice should be taken to establish what level that would be (23C+), length of event, air temp. etc.

    Personally I think it should be a case of encouraging all ocean swim participants (Wetsuits, sans Wetsuits, etc. etc.), and we all stop being so precious e.g.if somebody wears a wetsuit beats your time but in wearing a wetsuit excludes himself/herself from his/her division, grow up and get over it. You in effect won!!! Live and let live, encouraging and growing the activity we love and use as a tool firstly for fun, as well as competition, and longevity.

  47. I spoke to a veteran member of Bondi Icebergs (BI) after the B2B race. He told me he wore a wetsuit because his BI training mates were also doing so and he did not want to lose time to them.

    Well, fair enough but they all should be kicked out of BIs. Wearing a wettie by a BI member must be unconstitutional and treated as treason. The club should establish a Bondi Sunlovers section and these swimmers can transfer into it.

  48. haha, Trevor it's just a name. Should the Cronulla Sharks also be sucked since they are not real sharks?? Bring on Bondi to Bronte 2011, I'm going to wear DT's for a change, sure they are much slower but, there are more important factors to winning then just the suit. Such as Training, currents, bouy spotting, surf experience (wading and catching waves).


Please use the drop down menu, Comment as, to attach your name to your blog.