At the end of each academic year my sports university organises Swim Camp, a popular fun event with hard, tough training and wild evening parties. The purpose is to learn and experience intense training, using fun as a motivation to get people to do what they would otherwise not stretch up for.
This year's voluntary event was held at the same sports centre where my brother got soaked every day for two summers when he worked there as a lifeguard. He told me it's a totally rad place for water lovers with a lot of swimming, wet adventure sports and wild pool parties.
About a month before Swim Camp we all received an email with event details and a huge packing list. I was wondering why we would need so much kit. Surely my new one piece speed suit would be enough, maybe shorts and swim shirt for the fun activities.
"You'll be surprised how many different endurance and resistance training methods there are," Felix explained, "and different clothes are worn in the water to vary the training effect. You'll love it."
Felix helped me pick the right outfit for the training sessions and the wide water sports variety on offer. He also mentioned that comfy clothes are required for the pool parties to look good.
"What shall I wear for these parties?" I asked, "Tees and shorts?"
"Smart casual clothes, like jeans and hoodies, or sportswear like jogging suits and such." said Felix, "You want to look the part, not like a dork in shorts."
"Yes, but will these clothes get wet?"
"You bet they will," he replied, "dry is not an option. These parties are wild."
We packed a big bag full of swimsuits, jogging suits, comfy sportswear, casual clothes, anoraks and cagoules, just in case there was some extra time to play around. He also chucked a few ponchos and rain capes into the bag.
"What are they for?" I asked in confusion.
"For outdoor activities, as poolside warm-up, and most importantly for relaxing in the pool during social events. Can avoid embarrassment."
This swim camp might be more fun than I thought.
Read all about it.
The next Saturday morning I drove through the coastal mountains and arrived at noon. The outdoor centre was by a lake with great views over the mountains and the distant sea.
Julie, the receptionist, showed me to my room where I met my room mate Caspian, a cute 19 year old student from my university. He is a keen swimmer and lifeguard. We've been friends for some time since he joined our swim team, but we've never travelled together to swim camp or elsewhere.
"Let's go for a swim!" Caspian said with a smile. We put on our fullbody speed suits, grabbed a towel and headed for the pool.
We asked Julie if we could use the pool and what the dress code was. She said we could wear anything as long as it is clean and we wear it in the shower first, especially after outdoor activities. The idea that pool rules require you to take a shower in all your clothes before entering the pool was cool.
We went into the showers to rinse our swimsuits in warm water. Then we dove into the pool and swam a few lengths.
It was amazing how fast we could go in these full body swimsuits and what freedom of movement they provide. That was good fun as we jumped in and out of the pool, and played around for a while, doing all sorts of aquabatics.
Then we climbed out and talked to Alex, the lifeguard, dressed in yellow lifeguard hoodie and red jogging pants.
He showed us the facilities of the pool and how to use them. It was amazing all the facilities they had. Afterwards we sat down by the poolside and talked about swimming and such.
"You guys look hot in those wet Lycra suits." Alex said with a wink.
"Yes," replied Caspian, "we're sexy and we know it."
"But seriously," continued Alex, "these suits make a good base layer for more clothes when you do your resistance swim training. Let me show you something."
Lisa took over from Alex in the lifeguard chair and
we went to the drying room next to the pool hall.
This room was full of clothes on hangers, drying in the surplus warmth from the pool heaters. There were hoodies and jogging pants, jeans, anoraks and long cagoules, rain pants, overalls and ponchos. Wow, we were totally stoked. So much kit to play with!
Alex explained: "These clothes we wear on our wet adventures and for resistance swim training. You will wear them most of the time for any activities and in the pool."
"May we try some on now?" asked Caspian.
"Sure, go ahead!" said Alex with a laugh, "Get dressed and enjoy."
The clothes along the back wall belonged to other visitors, so we were asked not to touch them.
All the other kit we could wear in the pool or outside whenever we felt like it.
This was going to be serious fun.
Caspian picked chest high canoeing pants from the rack that had shoulder straps but no waist band. Alex explained this design is more comfy and holds less water when you go for a swim. On top Caspian wore a knee length yellow cagoule with a short zip, looking good in these baggy clothes.
I put on blue jogging pants and a dark blue hoodie which got a bit damp from my wet swimsuit underneath. I really like hoodies but have never worn one in the water.
"These fit alright," I said, "now what?"
"Jump into the pool to swim some lengths fully clothed." Alex knew what was awaiting us.
We went to the pool edge, looked at each other for a moment, grinning ear to ear, and then jumped into the pool.
Wow, this felt heavy, air bubbling up everywhere. Swimming in the jogging suit was hard work. Caspian said the canoeing suit was quite easy as the water ran off whenever he climbed out of the pool to jump in again.
Alex also came into the pool, still wearing his full uniform, socks, canvas shoes, and all. I was impressed.
"Do you enjoy swimming in your uniform?" I asked Alex.
"Yes, that's why I got this job. The management prefers staff who like swimming in clothes, as they are more ready to assist the guests in the water."
"How often do you have to go into the water with all your clothes on?" Caspian asked.
Alex smiled: "About 3 to 5 times a day, mainly to help swimmers with a skill or task. They want assistance right away, not wait until I get my swimwear. Afterwards I change into dry clothes and go back on poolside."
"Can we do that too?" Caspain asked.
"Sure," replied Alex, "you're here for the swimfit week, right? That's how you get fit."
Swimming in these clothes was hard work, but great fun. We swam a few lengths, then Alex climbed out and asked us to follow him to the drying room. Could there be more?
"We use the 3 layer approach to keep warm," he explained, "you'll learn about it later. For now have a swim in ponchos. See how far you get."
We took off the heavy clothes and put on thin nylon ponchos over our fullbody swim suits. Alex wore a red poncho over his jogging suit. Looking good we all headed back to the pool.
Alex went in first at the shallow end, showing us how to control the poncho in chest deep water.
Then Caspian and I waded into deeper water and found it easy to swim in ponchos because they just hug your body as you move forward. We've never done this before. It felt odd but good.
We played around until Alex was needed back on pool side. He took his poncho off and hung it up to dry. Then he got back on the high chair in his dripping wet jogging suit.
"That's how you keep cool in the hot pool hall, right?" I asked and he nodded with a smile.
"Remember the party tonight," Alex said with a wink as we left,
"dress to impress, but in comfy clothes. There will be many surprises."