Red Bull Neptune Steps

I’m on a climbing wall, but I’m fully clad in neoprene.  I swam to the bottom of the wall in bracing 7°c water that took my breath away, but I’m still struggling to catch my breath because there’s water pouring down on me from above.  Although I can’t feel my numb hands I’m trying to ascend the wall, but the competitor below me has her hand where I want to put my foot.  I know that when I reach the top of the wall I’ll have to dive into the cold water on the other side.  Is this some crazy cheese-fuelled nightmare?  If not, how on earth did I get here? Continue reading “Red Bull Neptune Steps”

AquaSphere Phantom wetsuit: what a bit of kit!

Hello blogosphere!  I took a break from blogging over winter, although I’ve been training steadily since the end of October when I joined Joel Enoch‘s squad: the “Hartree Bike Craft JETS Ecosse“.

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Winter training has been TOUGH: upping my training volume in some manky Scottish weather, combined with early starts and cycling to sessions through storms nearly finished me off!  But the prospect of a warm weather training camp at Sands Beach, Lanzarote, in March kept me going.  I was itching to try my new Phantom wetsuit, which had been kindly provided by my swim kit sponsors AquaSphere.  It’s a stunning shiny blue suit, which is a dream to wear.  It’s so distinctive among a sea of black suits.  So much so that the aquathon team I was part of in Lanza decided to name ourselves The Phantoms!

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I expected only to need the suit for open water swims, but the pool was so cold that I wore it all week.  I swam a total of 10 km in it over the week, so I worried that my shoulders might suffer from the increased resistance.  But the shoulders of the suit were so flexible that this wasn’t an issue.  This is a real bonus for the swims in longer races (the swims in my middle distance races are 1.9 km).  Another issue can be rubbing from the neck (the dreaded ‘wetsuit hickey’) but the low and soft neck seal on the Phantom helps to avoid this.  I didn’t have the hickey trouble that squad-mates with other wetsuits had during the week.

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I’ve never worn a wetsuit in a pool before, so have never been able to directly compare neoprene and skin.  Wow!  The reduced drag from the Phantom suit enabled me to be much faster out of my turns: I felt like I was flying!  A clear sign of the lack of friction from the neoprene was my inability to keep a pull buoy (float) between my legs!  The gains in reduced drag and efficiency will be much appreciated during my races this year.

I must confess that one issue I’m still having with the suit is doing the zip up myself – although this is not a problem in a race as there will always be people around to help.  But one big plus the Phantom has going for it come race day is how quickly you can whip it off!  The cut of the ankle panels means it’s much easier to pull your leg free.  In a race simulation we did in Lanza I was able to get my suit off before a squad-mate who was out of the pool before me… result!

All in all the Phantom is a seriously good bit of kit, with lots of great features that will come into their own on race day.  It’s the best wetsuit I’ve ever worn, and I’m looking forward to racing in it.  My first open water race is the British Middle Distance Championships at Grafman, on 22nd May.  Eight weeks!  Eek!!!  I’ll let you know how it goes.