By: Blonde Two
We Blondes are no strangers to the concept of outdoor toileting. In fact, we can add it to our claims to greatness that we have taught many people to enjoy (maybe too strong a word) the outdoor relief experience. The truth is that if you love the outdoors and like to be in it for more than a couple of hours, sooner or later you are going to have to… go, even if that does mean weeing in your wetsuit!
This has been part of my walking life for so long that when I am out on the hills, I no longer really think about it (except when the wind is going places that wind really shouldn’t go or when I struggle to get up from a crouch because I have forgotten to take my rucksack off). Swimming and weeing though, have, this year, been a new adventure for me. I have already mentioned the ‘need a wee’, ‘get in cold water’, ‘forget the wee’, ‘get out and need a wee even more‘ issue but during my Dart 10K swim, I had a slightly different problem.
I won’t go into the intricacies of dealing with the preswim Portaloo/wetsuit situation, that just made me laugh it was so ridiculous. However, I do feel that I need to share with you the issues arising from a 3-hour swim during which I felt like I needed to ‘go’ at least 80% of the time.
Apparently ‘immersion diuresis’ is actually a thing (thanks to Devon Wild Swimming for pointing this out). According to scientists (presumably underwater ones), the ‘urge’ is controlled by our mammalian brains, the rush of blood to our organs (because of the cold and pressure) and our bodies being fooled into thinking that they are carrying too much water (mine was but this was mainly due to accidental swallowing).
The science behind the issue was the last thing on my mind as I swam the Dart 10K, my issue was not that I needed to wee, but that I didn’t want to stop swimming in order to do so. I could have stopped and still made progress, the tide was rushing and I was floating nicely in my wetsuit and the brackish water, but I knew that I was near the back and had to get on with it. The problem revealed (but didn’t relieve) itself fairly early on, I couldn’t seem to go whilst moving my arms and legs. I initially experimented with front crawl because that was the stroke I ‘was supposed’ to be doing. No matter at which point in the arm, leg, breathe movement cycle I was in when I tried, my success rate was zero. Luckily I was also swimming a fair amount of breaststroke (mainly to stop me from bumping into everyone else) and I eventually discovered that there is a point in the leg push that allows for a bit of urinary relief.
I can’t remember much about what I thought on the way down the River Dart that day but this mantra will stay with me for a long time…
I am not sure whether it was the weeing or the swimming that got me to the finish, but one of them did. It was only weeks after that I realised that as most of the 800 people swimming that day overtook me and as they were all likely to have been going through the same experience as me, I had probably swum through a fair amount of urine. That hasn’t, however, put me off…