Wetsuits vs. No Wetsuits – Strange But True In Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Setúbal Bay, Portugal.

Setúbal Bay, Portugal has been the site of numerous major international competitions including the Olympic 10K Marathon Swimming qualification races in 2012 and 2016 as well as this year’s FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series race and many previous FINA/HOSA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup races.

This year, due to FINA’s new cold water rules, the competitors wore full-body (i.e., down to the ankles and wrists) wetsuits for the second time [the first time was in Canada at the FINA Grand Prix event, the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in 2017].

But oddly enough, the neoprene times over the 10 km course this year were slower than all previous years without wetsuits. In some cases, the winning times of the top 3 swimmers – both male and female – significantly slower with wetsuits. Strange, but true – and understandable given the dynamic nature of the open water where one just never knows.

Alexander Studzinski, a veteran professional marathon swimmer, explains, “The first time wetsuits were used [in the 32 km Traversée du lac St-Jean], we easily set the course record in a wetsuit compared to a non-wetsuit swim. Secondly, in Setúbal, there are a lot of currents from the tides. So, last year was favorable currents with a winning time of 1:29 and this time, it was not. Setúbal races can vary from 1 hour 26 minutes to 2 hours 25 minutes.

Also, the Arena 9 is the only wetsuit broadly available which is on the FINA list. That’s why everyone swims in it.”

Olympic 10 km Marathon Swimming Qualifier, June 2012
Top 3 Men’s Results:
1. Oussama Mellouli (TUN) 1:45:18.5
2. Richard Weinberger (CAN) 1:45:30.2
3. Petar Stoychev (BUL) 1:45:34.1

Top 3 Women’s Results:
1. Haley Anderson (USA) 1:44:30.6 – 2012 Olympian
2. Eva Risztov (HUN) 1:44:32.0 – 2012 Olympian
3. Anna Olasz (HUN) 1:44:36.8

FINA/HOSA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup, June 2015
Top 3 Men’s Results:
1. Chip Peterson (USA) 1:54:23.60
2. Christian Reichert (GER) 1:54:47.10
3. Alex Meyer (USA) 1:55:00.00

Top 3 Women’s Results:
1. Rachele Bruni (ITA) 2:05:24.45
2. Yumi Kida (JPN) 2:05:34.15
3. Anna Olasz (HUN) 2:06:17.95

Olympic 10 km Marathon Swimming Qualifier, June 2016
Top 3 Men’s Results:
1. Lijun Zu (CHN) 1:52:18.2
2. Christian Reichert (GER) 1:52:20.40
3. Ivan Enderica Ochoa (ECU) 1:52:22.60

Top 3 Women’s Results:
1. Xin Xin (CHN) 1:55:12.1
2. Keri-Anne Payne (GBR) 1:55:12.90
3. Samantha Arevalo (ECU) 1:55:15.90

FINA/HOSA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup, June 2017
Top 3 Men’s Results:
1. Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) 1:29:50.97
2. Rob Frederik Muffels (GER) 1:29:52.97
3. Andrea Manzi (ITA) 1:29:59.06

Top 3 Women’s Results:
1. Rachele Bruni (ITA) 1:37:36.28
2. Viviane Jungblut (BRA) 1:37:37.23
3. Samantha Arevalo (ECU) 1:37:37.73

FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series, June 2018 [with wetsuits]
Top 3 Men’s Results:
1. Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) 1:55:57.53
2. Mario Sanzullo (ITA) 1:56:22.33
3. Jack Burnell (GBR) 1:56:23.22

Top 3 Women’s Results:
1. Haley Anderson (USA) 2:05:18.89
2. Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) 2:05:20.26
3. Kareena Lee (AUS) 2:05:22.25

Photo above of 2018 race is courtesy of FINA in Setúbal Bay.

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 by World Open Water Swimming Association