Before even buying one, you will probably have heard all kinds of stories about them. Stories about just how difficult they are to put on, about the terrified look in people’s eyes at the idea of putting them back on again, times when your only thought is to get out of that overly tight-fitting swimsuit. Yes, we are talking about the famous racing suit, a real pre-race nightmare for all swimmers.
Whether you like racing in the pool or love open-water swimming, sooner or later the time will come when you will have to think about buying a racing suit, what we normally call a skinsuit.
The first time I made up my mind to do so, I went to a specialist store; it was about half an hour before closing time and the shop assistant told me there was not enough time for me to try on the race suit I wanted: “come back again when you have more time”. Rather annoyed and disappointed I decided not to give up and went back the next day determined to make my purchase. The shop assistant took my measurements and took a tiny, extremely tight-fitting garment out of the box. I thought it would be absolutely impossible to fit into it; “that one is too small”, I said, to which the shop assistant replied: “no, it is your size, it needs to fit like a second skin”. It took me three quarters of an hour to put the swimsuit on properly after twisting and turning like a boa constrictor, and in the end I felt had literally been vacuum packed. The shop assistant reassured me it was the right size and I took home the new racing suit I have just bought. I was happy but completely oblivious to what would happen at my next open-water race.
The sun was shining when I reached the beach on a warm Sunday morning feeling enthusiastic about the race ahead. Along the shoreline the other swimmers were already covering themselves in vaseline to prevent any chaffing during the race, while others were queueing up to put on their racing suits in one of the changing cabins available. My turn came and I soon realised what lay ahead: having to put on my suit all by myself in the heat, while a queue of restless athletes were waiting outside the cramped little cabin.
I managed to get through the ordeal but ever since then I have had a radical change of heart. Ever since that day, after spending 45 minutes trapped in a confined space trying to get to grips with that incredibly tight-fitting garment, the desperate look in girls’ eyes in the changing room before a race as they try to pull their suit centimetre by centimetre over their skin has taken on a whole new meaning.
Ever since that day I have been exchanging knowing looks with other people taking part in open-water races, who, like me, are forced to put on such tight-fitting swimsuits so quickly in such confined spaces.
But from that day on I also knew something else for certain: I could never do without my racing suit!