Vaseline, Desitin, lanolin, goose fat, duck fat*, TriSlide, porpoise fat, diaper rash ointments, sunscreens, and jellyfish ointments like Safe Sea are often used by open water swimmers around the world.
Channel grease is a term used for self-made anti-chafing mixtures that are applied on the neck, arms, legs and torso of channel swimmers, marathon swimmers, and open water swimmers.
Open water swimmers, especially channel swimmers and marathon swimmers, have an interesting relationship with lanolin. When putting on lanolin, a variety of thoughts pass through the minds of open water swimmers:
“This stuff smells.”
“Smells like a marathon swim is getting ready to start.”
“I hope this doesn’t get on my goggles.”
“Better not get this lanolin on my clothes.”
“If I heat it up more, it might be easier to put on.”
“I can’t wait to get this stuff off.”
“It will come off in the water anyway, after a few hours.”
“This stuff will never come off.”
“Where are my rubber gloves?“
“Who is going to put this stuff on me?“
“How thick should I put it on?“
“This is going to feel good.”
“I hate how this feels.”
“Who came up with this stuff?“
“I wonder what porpoise oil feels like?“
“Hope the water is warm.”
“How did they make goose fat way back when?“
Upper photo shows International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator Joe Grossman applying channel grease to International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer Greta Andersen before an English Channel crossing.
Second photo shows professional marathon swimmers racing in Canada.
Third photo shows Ray Gandy, courtesy of Debra Gagnon.
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