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In May this year, I was invited to take part in Oceanman Turkey, a 10km marathon swim in the Turkish Riviera resort of Alanya.

Trying to keep costs down, I only booked hand-luggage for my flights. The big question before I flew was whether or not to pack a wetsuit. The race was wetsuit optional with expected water temperatures of 20 to 21 degrees – warm enough to swim without. If I left the wetsuit behind, it would make packing a lot easier.

A few days before the trip, I received an email from the organiser. “I recommend you bring your wetsuit. The water is cooler than normal this year and everyone else will wear one.” This pretty much decided the wetsuit question. The only problem, was how to pack it.

It turns out that if you carefully roll a wetsuit, it packs up pretty small. I was glad I had it. While the water wasn’t as cold as I’d been led to believe, there are cold streams running off the mountains into the sea leaving cool patches in the water. Also, a well-made, well-fitted wetsuit makes a huge difference to your swimming speed. While a few other swimmers (including the overall race winner) opted not to wear one, the majority did. In a competitive situation, it’s nice to know you’re starting on a level playing field. The race went well, despite a couple of navigation errors, I managed to finish fourth overall and win my age group. As it was an Oceanman event, I now have the option to take part in the Oceanman world championships!

Alanya is a lively city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The swim takes you around a rugged peninsula that’s home to a well-preserved thirteenth century castle, which is worth exploring in its own right.

If you haven’t tried before, I definitely recommend travelling to swimming events in different countries. It’s one of my favourite things to do. They are almost always in interesting and scenic locations, you get to meet lovely people, and it’s easy to travel light – even with a wetsuit.

We test a lot of wetsuits at Outdoor Swimmer and there are plenty of great suits on the market. However, wetsuits are quite personal and I find some suit my style of swimming better than others. I felt very comfortable in the Ghost II, so wanted to trial it in a 10km competitive situation. It proved to be fast as well as comfortable.

Simon Griffiths is founder and publisher of Outdoor Swimmer magazine. He was swimming in a Yonda Ghost II wetsuit.

 

 

Photo credits to Katia Vastiau