Wolf Richter: “Wetsuit Shaming”, LOL: WOLF STREET drags WSJ through the mud of San Francisco Bay for the clickbait flotsam it released about cold water swimming

By Wolf Richter, Editor of Wolf Road. Initially printed in Wolf Road.

The writer, Robert McMillan, says he’s a member of the South Finish Rowing Membership in San Francisco, which is adjoining to the Dolphin Swimming & Boating Membership of which I’m a member. Each golf equipment are among the many oldest athletic golf equipment in San Francisco and share the identical seashore. I perceive from the article that he swims in a wetsuit, however I can not say for positive. I used to swim in a wetsuit till in the future I took it off – however not, as he claims of another person, due to “wetsuit shaming”.

Robert hilariously says that “some Bay swimmers refuse to put on these doubtlessly life-saving units as a result of they consider it is a type of dishonest.”

With that remark, Robert revealed he cannot get chilly water swimming, which then acquired him as much as his neck within the nonsense printed by the WSJ. So I’ll assist him.

Some fundamentals.

From the article, Robert is unaware of what chilly water does to you while you swim in it, simply you, your bathing swimsuit, your goggles and your thermal cap – the way it acts in your pores and skin with ferocious depth when you’re completely are immersed in nature, within the currents and waves, within the midst of waterfowl that do not take you significantly, the occasional seal that appears at you or the ocean lion that you simply actually wish to steer clear of.

Your physique creates a chemical cocktail that helps you survive on this water. Earlier than Christmas the temperature dropped under 50°F however has since warmed as much as 52° or 53°. After that you simply get that good excessive. You stroll round for hours with a smile in your face.

Due to this, the expertise is addictive for some individuals. That is why we swim with out a wetsuit. Different individuals do not have that sort of expertise. You would strive it as soon as and it is only a horror. And so they’re swimming in a wetsuit any longer, which is nice. At the very least they swim within the bay.

I began swimming in a wetsuit however one summer time day when the water wasn’t chilly I took off the wetsuit and it was liberating and fantastic and intense. I acquired used to the chilly water and acquired hooked.

That is the fact of chilly water swimming: it is stunning, it is intense, it immerses you in nature like nothing else. It distracts you from every thing. It’s addictive. A superb bathtub is sort of a two-week trip. This is the reason individuals swim in chilly water with out a wetsuit.

Equity in a race, not wetsuit shaming.

Going again to Robert’s masterpiece the place he did not say {that a} wetsuit makes you quicker, a lot sooner as a result of the buoyancy lifts your physique additional out of the water which reduces drag. That is particularly helpful for a slim physique sort like mine that’s sinking. The truth that they make you quicker is why they don’t seem to be allowed in pool competitions.

So the swimming competitions that the writer mentions are competitions! And it will be unfair if wetsuit swimmers have been allowed to compete on an equal footing with everybody else. Fins and different “swimming aids” are additionally not allowed with us. This has nothing to do with “wetsuit shaming” however with equity in a race.

Keep away from a multitude, no wetsuit shaming.

Robert goes on to bitch about how South-Enders aren’t allowed to take off their wetsuits within the locker room after the swim, they need to take them off exterior on the dock.

Identical goes for the Dolphin Membership, the reason being easy. A wetsuit incorporates water, mud, sand and varied plankton after swimming. If you peel it off, these things drips and trickles everywhere in the flooring and makes an enormous mess. Individuals can grow to be their dry wetsuit within the altering room, however they need to take it off exterior and let it dry exterior, which makes excellent sense. This is not “wetsuit shaming,” it is simply sensible.

That is the way it was defined to me after I first confirmed up on the Dolphin Membership in my wetsuit. Everybody is aware of that – besides our buddy Robert.

Unrolling a professor shocked by “wetsuit shaming”.

So, in good outdated WSJ trend, Robert quotes a biology professor. Robert says, “In 50-degree water, the primary levels of hypothermia can set in after as little as 10 minutes, in response to John A. Downing, professor of biology on the College of Minnesota’s Massive Lakes Observatory. “Wetsuit Disgrace. I discover it hysterical,” he mentioned [the professor] says. “Why would you disgrace somebody for attempting to remain alive?”

First: Pricey Prof. Downing, Don’t fret, “wetsuit disgrace” is a pipe dream of Robert’s. And sure, it is ridiculous.

Second, sure, hypothermia may be deadly, and swimmers can die in the event that they get it incorrect. Individuals die snowboarding, biking (get hit by a rattling automotive!), operating, mountaineering, climbing, crossing the road… Chilly water swimming is intense. Lean individuals like me lack the pure layer of neoprene that others have and we have to handle our time within the chilly water judiciously. Different swimmers with sufficient pure neoprene can swim in it for hours. I’ve to work arduous to remain heat in 50° water. However I see different individuals simply treading water and chatting about their newest recipe or no matter. Everybody has to be taught the way it works for them. And for some individuals, swimming in a wetsuit could be the way in which to go, and that is nice.

Different silliness within the play.

Robert continues: “With water temperatures simply over 50 levels this month – and air temperatures in extra of fifty levels – it is simply one in all many risks swimmers face within the bay: they may exhaust themselves battling robust currents and being bitten by aggressive sea lions, and even crossing paths with the occasional ocean-going tanker.”

The final level – “intersecting with ocean tankers sometimes” – is simply plain foolish. The place we swim alone, within the Aquatic Membership “Bay” and outdoors, if we head east close to the breakwater and piers, or if we head west previous Fort Mason to the St. Francis Yacht Membership there are not any deep-sea tankers. There are not any ships in any respect.

Additional offshore – however we cannot swim there alone – there’s a transport lane used primarily by container ships sure for the Port of Oakland. The tankers cross just a few miles additional north, north of Alcatraz, to go to the refineries in Richmond and alongside San Pablo Bay. Robert, have a look at a map of the bay.

For swimming occasions that cross the transport lanes, comparable to For instance, swimming from Alcatraz again to the membership, the swim commissioner plans it properly upfront with the Coast Guard, they usually shut site visitors on the transport lane for the time of the occasion. And the membership’s boats accompany the swimmers.

Kudos to the Wall Road Journal for as soon as once more displaying off with such poignancy.