My diligent internet research of wetsuits wasn’t getting me anywhere, so in the end it took my mum to say “here’s somewhere close by, just ring them”. Biting the bullet I did and arranged to head there the following day. On the phone it sounded relatively straightforward, they took the admission of my height and weight in their stride, didn’t miss a beat and told me exactly what I needed.
Of course I’d like to say I turned up, tried on the wetsuit and I was home within the hour feeling positively athletic. Perhaps if you’re shall we say less bumpy then that is what happens. For me it was rather more eventful.
Apparently the key thing when trying on a wetsuit is not to tear it with your nails. Now, I’m not in possession of long manicured talons, far from it, but they were long enough to set me into a panic – and even in my huge mummy handbag I couldn’t find a nail file. So with trepidation I headed off behind the curtain, but fully believing that 5 minutes would see me parading in neoprene.
Pull up the legs (but not using nails), then it will pop over your hips and heh presto you can get your arms in. The only thing I can liken it to was like trying to dress yourself in tissue paper. In hindsight I overdid the tentativeness, a consequence of which meant I found myself 10 minutes later pulling open the curtain to ask the beyond patient Howard if my crotch looked high enough.
With an affirmative back I went behind the curtain for a bit more tugging. At this stage the novelty factor had worn off for the baby, so I bribed her with my glasses and phone.
Then it was time to emerge from the curtain again……at this stage I was beginning to feel like Mr Benn.
Houston (or rather Howard) we have a problem. Neoprene will only stretch so far. I was well aware of my mum tum, hips, bum and the already mentioned ample chest, but how could I have overlooked the chunky arms too. So Howard suggested perhaps a sleeveless suit might work better. I have to say I’m not the greatest when it comes to body confidence, but he was so professional I never felt it was mission impossible.
Thank goodness wetsuits are way easier to take off. So on to wetsuit number 2. By this stage I was getting hotter and hotter, which seemed to make everything harder to move. Then for goodness sake I started feeling faint and a bit sick. At which point I realised I hadn’t had any breakfast. Did they have any biscuits I could have to help? Ok, maybe not, it was that that got me into this predicament in the first place and anyway how weird would that sound asking for tea and biscuits to revive myself. This was ridiculous, I just needed to breathe. Surely I couldn’t faint trying on a wetsuit, the shame. I just couldn’t get anything to move up, my arms were aching like I’d swum 40 laps. I have to admit at this stage my overriding emotion was despair….that’s it, I’d just withdraw and not do the swim. But say I was stuck in the wetsuit? Maybe I should just pretend I’d finished trying it on and it fitted, then go home and not eat for 6 weeks. Or I wondered if I lay down and begged them would they just hoick me into it? Oh and of course I needed a wee, I had a headache and felt like I’d burst a blood vessel. It was not my finest moment.
By this stage I’m sure they thought I’d moved into the changing room.
About to admit defeat I opened the curtain again, another helpful face, with the advice to look in the mirror and “you’ll see where it’s bunched up.” (Admittedly this was made more challenging by the fact the baby was merrily chewing on my glasses and I couldn’t see) and yippee we had movement. Urghhh, the relief. I have to admit I could have cried.
So the test: Did I feel panicky in it? asked Howard – well quite frankly no. A palpable sense of relief, yes. But panic no! Did it matter that it was a man’s wetsuit in large? Well I’d obviously have preferred it to be a small ladies. Did it matter I had bare arms? Hell no, I was just relieved to have man-handled myself into one.
I gabbled, but thanked Howard profusely and left. So for the next 2 months I am officially the owner of a wetsuit. It must have played on my mind as I had the bizarrest dream which involved a neoprene playmat and Will.I.Am and well that’s about all I can tell you!
Now to find somewhere to go swimming.