Over the weekend, I camped in the van at the Cotswolds Water Park, and was woken in the night by a massive hail storm. Hail. In mid-May.
So, in short, even though a couple of weeks ago I was talking about my need to face up to the cold and not let the Mallorca fiasco get on top of me, I'm now officially over it. The water is about 11-12 degrees in all of the lakes I swim in, with air temps often close to 3-4 degrees for early morning swims, and generous helpings of driving rain and biting winds to add to the fun. Two hour training swims are a slog of numbed endurance, and I'm still wandering around wearing everything I own several hours after each swim. I'm trying not to whinge, I really am, but I feel that we've done our time in the cold and are ready to be rewarded with a couple of extra degrees, just by way of encouragement.
But in the face of the horrid spring weather this year, and the ever-present shadow / excitement of MIMS, I can't stop, and I can't bring myself to return to the pool. So instead, I bought a Dryrobe. The towelling Robie Robe has been around for ages, and is a welcome protection from the wind pre- and post-swim....as well as against accidentally flashing body parts at strangers whilst changing on a windy beach. But the Dryrobe - a relative newcomer to the market - is a different beast entirely:
It's well-made, and for £5, you can get your name embroidered on the sleeve, which is a nice touch. But it's also worth noting that this is not a high fashion item. Walking to the van last Saturday, with the Dryrobe over my wet swimming costume and with lime green crocs poking out from underneath, it was hard not to notice the gales of laughter coming from my triathlon club friends. The 'look' is complemented for those of us who are not particularly tall by being 'one size fits all' - ie, massive. I looked, as one pointed out, like a child playing dress-up in my mum's dressing gown. Like so many things in marathon swimming, it only makes sense as an item of clothing when you're around other marathon swimmers; otherwise, you just look a bit strange. But also like so many things in marathon swimming, it's all about function rather than form. And as a functional item, it is unparalleled; the bee's knees of post-swim clothing.
I have only two reservations about it. Firstly, as with the Robie, it is physically impossible to get a tank-top style sports bra on under the cover of one of these things. I tried to do so on one occasion post-swim and got so tangled up that I thought I was going to have to call one of the emergency services to free me. Perhaps it's just me, but it's just not possible. It's an unfair criticism of the Dryrobe, really, but still... I defy anyone to be able to do this safely.
And secondly, while there is an excellent website for marketing the Dryrobe, it contains a couple of inexplicably sexist and patronising images of a very slim woman in a stripy bikini with long (dry) blonde hair, and in one case, of her peeling the Dryrobe off one shoulder to reveal a scantily clad breast, while she looks doe-eyed at the camera. I've seen many women wearing the Dryrobe, and I can assure you they all look scarlet, dishevelled, tense with cold and vaguely like they've been sleeping outside behind the bins for a few nights. I cannot think of a less 'come hither' item of clothing in appearance or practice. It's ridiculous, sexist nonsense of the kind that drives me crazy (and if you want to see the picture, I'm not posting it here, so you'll have to find it yourself).
But my goodness, it's warm.