Once I’d overcome my deepest inner fears and decided that yes, I could swim a longer distance than a length of the swimming pool down the road, then I started thinking properly about things.
With built in buoyancy to enable even the most fatigued swimmer keep their form, the Orca 3.8 is one of a long range of world class wetsuits designed to help people swim further, faster.
As it was, I was always going to be fairly slow. But who’s quibbling?!
Although pulling on a cold, damp wetsuit at 6am every morning wasn’t the most enjoyable of experiences, I instantly felt at home in the 3.8. Having not trained at all for this journey I certainly needed the assistance offered by this suit in the early days in the South Dakotan lake system, but after 58 days in the water and 1001 miles swum I could probably swim quite well without the suit. Not that I’d want to.
After two weeks of the journey I was joined for a few miles by Alex Gerlach, 14, who swims for South Dakota and has his beady eye on the next Olympics in Brazil.
Alex was a lovely guy and as I had a spare 3.8 I decided that he should have the one I’d used for the first 75 miles or so. I washed it out before giving it to him, naturally.
Although it was undoubtedly the hardest challenge I’ve ever taken on, swimming 1001 miles down the Lower Missouri River was also the most formative for me, in many ways.
Being immersed in water day-in day-out is one thing, dressing as a batman lookalike for two months is another. The Orca 3.8 is flexible enough to accommodate the natural weight and size shifts of an endurance swimmer. Weight (and therefore waist) went down, shoulders and thighs went up. The 3.8 (I’m a size 7, in case you were wondering) stayed the same.
I wasn’t a swimmer, and then I was, and now I’m not again. It was a pleasure having Orca as a part of my identity for two, life-changing months. If you’re considering a long-distance swim, or even a triathlon or the odd weekend plunge, I couldn’t recommend the 3.8 more. Glorious.