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Friday, March 8, 2013

What Is A Stinger Suit?

In the Marathon Swimmers Forum, Evan Morrison of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association analyzed the opinions and survey results of 175 former, current or aspiring marathon swimmers from around the world. His expert analyses and presentation of the data are posted here.

It was very interesting snapshot of the community that is estimated to include at least 710 channel swimmers and 6,500 marathon swimmers.

Morrison reported that 50% of the swimmers were for stinger suits and 50% of the swimmers were against stinger suits.

But what exactly are stinger suits?

Swimmers in lakes and rivers, and frankly in most open water swims in oceans and seas do not use, own or even know what a stinger suit looks like. A stinger suit is full-length protective swimwear that covers most of the body, including the arms and legs from the wrist to the ankles that are used by marine biologists, divers, and open water swimmers in order to protective against jellyfish and other venomous creatures of the seas and oceans.

It is usually made of sheer porous or closed-cell materials that prevents the barbs on the tentacles of jellyfish from entering the human skin. After a long evolution of 650 million years, the barbs of jellyfish automatically and naturally fire upon touch of another marine creature or human being. But the synthetic fibers of stinger suits are an effective means to prevent these venom-filled barbs from firing. The stinger suits are worn over a swimsuit and can be augmented with booties (shoes), gloves and some sort of hood or protective headgear that masks the ears, neck, and forehead.

Despite its ability to protect the swimmer, the porous nature of the most popular stinger suits makes the stinger suit extremely difficult and tiring to use, especially on channel swims and marathon swims. But the trade-off between protecting oneself against highly venomous sting, especially box jellyfish or stingers, usually far outweighs the increased difficulty of bringing your arms over the water, the reduced body position due to the weight of the stinger suit, and the reduced kick beat and propulsion.

A related article about stinger suits is here.

Photo about shows Penny Palfrey.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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