To Pee or Not to Pee…

Posted: June 23, 2011 in Injuries and Owies, Swim
Tags: , ,

There is a common dialogue that is regularly waged amongst most triathletes I know that I would like to weigh in on; specifically, is it actually beneficial to peeing in your wetsuit?

I know, right?  How gross is that?  But, yup, there it is – a lot of them do it.  In fact, they don’t just endorse it, they actively encourage it!  Say what?  Of course this automatically conjures up thoughts of my swimming through rivers of pee in all my triathlons, but I’m trying not to let my mind go there.

When somebody first asked me if I peed in my wetsuit I responded in a way similar to if I had just been asked to circumcise myself a rusty snail fork.  Needless to say, I was taken quite by surprise.  Really?  You pee yourself while racing…on purpose?  But, in fact, it is often joked that there are two types of triathletes:  “those who pee their wetsuits, and those who lie about it.”   But I respectfully disagree.

Like I really needed to provide a visual

Personally, I am a proud non-urinator.  The thought of soiling my wetsuit either before or during a race is about as appealing as smearing myself with honey and staking myself to an anthill.  If I wanted to immerse myself in a pool of warm piss I’d just go for a dip at the local water treatment plant.  Now, I’ve heard all the differing philosophies on the subject, namely the infamous “urine bath vs. internal heater” debate, but in times of weakness I like to remind myself that I am swimming in a $300 dollar wetsuit that I had to scrimp and save for – not a pair of Huggies.  After all, do you ruin your new khakis walking to work or while shopping in the aisles of your local supermarket just because you can’t be bothered to hold it?  Of course not!  So why is your wetsuit any different?  I realize that at $300, my wetsuit is but a mere drop in the bucket when it comes to decent wetsuits, but it’s my wetsuit!

What possible advantage can there be to relieving yourself in your wetsuit? I’m just not getting it.  I can honestly say that I have never swam in water cold enough to warrant my taking such a drastic action such as surrounding myself with a layer of urine to warm myself, so I don’t buy that whole argument.  So why then do some triathletes insist that this is still beneficial?  It has also been explained as well that peeing your wetsuit actually enables you to go faster.  I am not so convinced here either.  Personally, I make myself go to the pre-race Porto-lets about three dozens times before the start of the race.  By the time the siren goes off signaling the official start of the swim I am essentially empty.  And even if I did have a little left, it’s not like I’m carrying around enough weight in my bladder to actually slow me down any.  So what’s the big deal?

There are actual reasons given why we need to pee when we paddle out into the line up, according to experts.   Namely that the kidneys actually begin to produce more urine when the body is immersed in water; a drop in body temperature triggers the kidneys to put out more urine; the adrenaline rush of surfing stimulates the urge to pee.  Err, I respectfully call “Bullshit” on that.  i have never felt any sudden urge to pee, providing I have gone, like, a zillion times before the race (which is common). Heck, I’ve even made a half dozen trips to the Porto-let on occasion; actually leaving it just to return to the back of line and get back in again.

Then there is also the ridiculous notion that your pee, somehow, helps you stay more buoyant in the water.  I also call “Bullshit” on this too.  If I really wanted to improve my buoyancy I’d rip with the farts and instead fill my suit with lightweight pockets of gaseous emissions rather than bog it down unnecessary with bodily waste.  But, that’s just me I guess.

Is there any question why this guy looks so guilty?

To me, there are more disadvantages to peeing in your wetsuit than there are advantages.  For example, where urine doesn’t necessarily hurt the neoprene that your wetsuit is made out of, but if not cleaned properly, it will certainly turn it into a real fungus farm.  This unhygienic habit could then lead to a whole host of skin irritations, allergic reactions, and infections in open cuts. And it’s nasty. The Surfer’s Medical Association holds that urine can cause “wetsuit folliclitis,” a skin condition similar to acne.  Of course, this can all be easily avoided by washing your wetsuit off with fresh water after every time you swim, which also serves to preserve the overall lifetime of your suit in general.  However, it seems to me that it would be a whole lot less of a hassle to just avoid pissing yourself altogether.

The other concern I have is that by enveloping myself in a blanket of urine, all I’m really doing is ringing the dinner bell for every submerged aquatic predator within a 5 kilometer radius.  In essence, I’ve just turned myself into shark bait.  Now I realize this isn’t an issue when competing in inland lakes, canals and rivers as I do around here, but I would eventually like to participate in the larger more grandiose events held in the “true” open water gulfs, seas and oceans of the world and this then would become a real concern.  For example, I’m not so sure that I would eagerly pee my wetsuit prior to the swim for the Lanzarote Ironman in the Canary Islands where the swim is known to be in shark infested waters.  I understand that there is no real evidence to suggest that pee attracts sharks and that, maybe, I’ve just seen too many B-movie horror flicks in the 70’s, but I’m not willing to take that chance either.  I never want to my post race report to ever include having an arm or leg amputated by a hungry Great White mid-swim.  Definitely not Winning.

Regardless of what particular camp you happen to buy into on the topic, it can’t be denied, I just find something unsavory about the whole peeing in your wetsuit thing.  Likewise, knowing that there are many triathletes who are firm believers in the opposite side of the peeing coin, well, as I said before, I try not to think about it.

Can’t we just make it a new rule and agree to go before we all get in the water, like our parents used to tell us before embarking on long car trips?  If we let this behavior continue unchallenged, how long will it be before it’s also acceptable to drop deuces along the swim course as well?  Hell, we may all as well just stay home and compete in our toilets.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Carolyn says:

    I just ordered a wetsuit tonight actually and I can guarantee you I will pee in it the first time I wear it. Every time actually. Multiple times. That is why having the first leg of TRI be the swim is WINNING for my small bladder as I get to pee NUMEROUS times in the water before my start. So much better than the porta potties. Such good relief. I don’t claim buoyancy or warmth just that I have to freaking pee and I’m not waiting in line. It’s just water anyways at 7 in the morning.

    • Funny, but I had you pictured as a pee-er Carolyn (not judging). This tough, rugged, manly bladder of mine, so far, has been fine. I will be looking for a new wetsuit come next season,so I may be the first triathlete to ever post a used wetsuit for sale advertising: “Never peed in”.

  2. HeatherJ says:

    Friggin’ HILARIOUS. “A blanket of urine”?! Baahahahahaha

  3. Aquaman says:

    Peeing in the wetsuit…..I can not imagine how that particular custom began, or how people begain admitting to each other that they did it…. I’ll just try, like you say, to not think about how the person I’m drafting off of may or may not have just released a bladder full of urine into my face 😛

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s