I have two older brothers who live in Ontario and in their spare time they train and compete in triathlons. My brother Mikhail is an avid cyclist and recently finished his first trans-Canada trek. My brother-in-law Matt is an amazing natural runner. He barely needs to train. Last year, they ran a triathlon together, and the lead that Mikhail built while on the cycle, Matt closed while on foot. They finished together, holding hands.
As I look towards grad school in southern Ontario, I see a very clear opportunity to join their little Triathlete club. However, I am not a great runner, nor a cyclist. So I’ve decided, based on those two facts, to become the best swimmer of the bunch.
The only problem is, I am not a great swimmer.
I am pretty awkward actually.
So I have taken up swimming through Bison Rec services, where I have a weekly swim class. The classes are relatively short, and there are a range of levels. Whether you’ve never swam before or you are an ex-lifeguard just trying to get back into shape, there is a program for you.
But first, you’re going to need a bathing suit.
Swimming trunks are honestly like swimming in parachutes. Or running in parachutes. Whichever metaphor works better for you. They are not very comfortable; rubbing up against that mesh for hours of swimming can lead to chafing.
They also create more drag, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the more resistance you encounter the stronger you get. I am not a fan, but they are great for the beach when you don’t want to show your friends your penis.
My father has always, always insisted on Speedos. I have many pictures from my childhood of him in a Speedo, towering over me. The classic Speedo is a staple of swimming for a reason; it feels amazing to swim in a Speedo. They are form-fitting, create little drag and there is little rubbing and chafing.
However, they are very revealing, which to some is a problem. Also, since they are usually nylon they can react poorly to chlorine over time, making the suit almost see-through.
The square is a very classic look, however it has no real advantage over the Speedo. They are less revealing, but due to the increase in material, when the nylon begins to disintegrate in the water it will loosen and create areas of drag. This is the style I chose, I feel it’s an excellent compromise between awkwardly revealing my package and awkwardly hiding it.
Like an exaggerated square, this style reveals less. They usually have lined front pieces which do a lot to keep you from having visible genitals, however they too suffer from the square’s weaknesses, only more so. As they react to the chlorine they are going to become less and less comfortable and create more drag.
You can get a higher end material with most suits which will last longer. But eventually chlorine destroys everything. They used it as a weapon in World War One. Over time your suit will become transparent and floppy.
You need goggles, that is a given. Chlorine will burn the crap out of your eyes. It’s a horrible, horrible substance. For goggles it is usually best to lean towards the more expensive models which are more reliable, easier to fit and more comfortable.
Swim caps are also great because chlorine will damage your hair. They are only like 2 bucks, too. However, I find that when I am going hard I can get a headache from them. They squeeze your head, they make you hot and they are uncomfortable.
For women’s styles it’s a lot simpler. Don’t wear a bikini. There’s a time and a place for it, but they are awkward to do any serious swimming in.
The one piece, or tank suit, is the only real option, however it suffers from the same problems that the Speedo variations do. The material begins to sag, and disintegrate and higher end, more durable materials are very expensive.
Now you are ready to train.
Stay tuned for training advice from Ben in a subsequent issue of the Manitoban.