What Is This I Don’t Even

This photo was taken by my teammate Kathleen Jones at the Lake Stevens Olympic distance triathlon over the weekend:

Lookin' good, stud

Three things:

  1. I’m pretty sure this isn’t legal for races (along with water wings, flippers, and a river boat fan strapped to your back)
  2. If you need this head snorkel device to swim, you probably shouldn’t be doing triathlons
  3. I bet this dude swims faster than me

If I saw this dude in the water before the race, I’d smuggle some Nerds into the lake and dump them into the snorkel before the gun went off. That’ll teach him!…yeah, he’s definitely a faster swimmer than me. They all are.

Update: According to Jason, who was un-lazy enough to do 30 seconds’ worth of research, the USAT apparently does allow snorkels, although the Subaru series and Ironman Canada does not. You could feasibly use a snorkel at Ironman Tempe or Coeur d’Alene, although you’d look like a humongous dweeb (albeit a potentially slightly faster swimming dweeb).

14 Responses to “ “What Is This I Don’t Even”

  1. teresa says:

    You should ask her what happened once the race got started 😉


  2. Elizabeth says:

    Wow, impressive. I saw water wings and noodles at danskin, and thought that was the most absurd thing ever… but… wow. (And I need to know what happened to!)

  3. Brad Hammond says:

    I saw one (probably the same guy) at a race 2 years ago and wondered about the rules on snorkels. I asked the race director (at a race the following weekend) and he said that it was allowed for that guy because he asthma or some similar condition that made it hard to breathe. You probably need to get a note from your doctor or something.

  4. LB says:

    The rules do allow them. How is it that you compete and have never read the rules? I haven’t used one but I honestly don’t know why people don’t. It’s not cheating if everyone is allowed the advantage.

    • Rebecca says:

      I know the essential rules, not the ones having to do with obscure snorkel equipment. I’m guessing people don’t use them because they look ridiculous and take away from the athleticism of the sport.

  5. richk says:

    Rebecca, I hope you’re not as arrogant in person as you come across here. Sorry, but to say that if someone needs a snorkel to swim, they probably shouldn’t be doing triathlons – well that is plain mean. Many people can excel in the run or bike, but may struggle with the open water swim. Big deal if they use a snorkel…… No need to make fun of people. As far as “taking away from the athleticism of the sport”, your attitude accomplishes this just fine.

    • Rebecca says:

      I don’t see how I’m being arrogant. If someone struggles in open water swimming to the point where he or she must rely on a snorkel, I am of the opinion that this person is not ready for a triathlon. Part of the challenge of these races is ensuring you’re ready for each individual leg, whether that’s being able to run a certain distance, know how to breathe properly and survive in the water, and handle your bike safely while riding however many miles are required. We’ve been stuck in this “yaay, everyone’s a winner” mentality for too long. I absolutely own up to the fact that I’m a slow swimmer, but I made sure to take lessons so I’d at least be competent and comfortable enough in the water to get through the swim portion without needing snorkels, noodles, floaties, or any other apparatus aid. If you’re physically disabled that’s one thing, but if you’re trying to accomplish something when you’re simply either not ready or not comfortable doing it unless it’s seriously modified in some way, you need less coddling and more training.

      • richk says:

        I appreciate your reply and you make great points, I also can’t stand the “everyone’s a winner’ mentality. The issue I had is that you seemed to be ridiculing the guy for trying, and where does that stop? I am gearing up for a tri in the fall, for which I am ready for the swim (sans snorkel :)). However, I use that same Finis snorkel when I swim laps (for at least half of a given session). It comes with an air cap which limits how much air one can take in, and is a great training tool. Many advanced swimmers use it when training. That said, I can’t tell you how many annoying comments I get from morons at the pool who like to poke fun, so I am a bit defensive. lol. I do admit it looks strange, but again it is a great training aid. USAT allows snorkels but draws the line with any thing aiding with propulsion, i.e. fins

      • John says:

        Well there buddy…..I’m assuming that you are so naturally gifted and such a devoted triathlete that you went through Navy SEAL training to condition yourself to swim in cold water and NOT use a wetsuit….had your mother shape your head like a cone when you was a baby to cheat wind while in your bicycle (because if you have been doing triathlons….you know damn well how strange and idiotic aero helmets look like…especially when they first came out)(and of course you use a beach cruiser because you have the leg power of Lance Armstrong)….you also went to Africa and ran with the mountain people BAREFOOT(without shoes) because you do not need these lame looking apparatuses to keep your feet from blistering up…..that’s what I thought….wonk, wonk, wonk….leave the guy alone….he’s just there to enjoy the sport and be a little competitive….who is he hurting…I’m pretty sure if he gained 3 seconds on the swim and edged you for 459th place…are your feelings really gonna be hurt? So unless you…yourself are willing to give up the wetsuit, the aero helmet, the GU, the OPTYGEN HP, the fancy moisture wicking trisuit, the swim cap and goggles, not shave you legs, the quick laces and the $5,000 bike with ZIPP 808’s and 1080’s….I’d suggest you just shut your pie hole(hehehe just kidding)…I’d suggest you just do your race and have a great race day….because you’re not as cool as you think you are….remember basketball players and football players get paid millions of dollars and they don’t know how to swim.

        • Rebecca says:

          No, this would be like wearing water wings during the swim portion of a race or training wheels attached to the sides of your bike for the bike portion because you’re a little unsteady on the bike, or a segway for the run portion because you’re not great at this whole running thing. If you don’t know how to breathe properly (and I don’t even mean fancypants bilateral breathing or anything like that, just your standard “turn your head to the side to take a breath” style, or hell, even popping your head up like a gopher to suck in some air every once in a while), come on. It’s a very basic tenant of swimming. I’m all for Regular Joes getting into triathlons and 5ks and half marathons and whatnot, but there’s a basic level of fitness that one should at least strive for before signing up for these things.

          (Let me be clear–the guy using the snorkel wasn’t using it for a competitive edge; he wasn’t the first person out of the water or anything like that. Some of my friends said he got tangled up in a buoy and got stuck and was kind of Mr. Magooing it out there, so it seemed as if he wasn’t remotely comfortable in the water and was using the device because he didn’t really know how to swim without it.)

          • Jen says:

            I guess if you can’t run the whole length of the run then you shouldn’t be allowed to walk part of it either, right? Because your fitness isn’t up to the RUN part of the tri….and yet there are a poop-toof people walking that 3rd leg.

            Lots of races are trying to make the swim a lot safer…why don’t you get on THAT bandwagon instead of tearing people down? Snorkels, by the way, do not give anyone a competitive edge in IM because you can’t qualify for an age group award if you use one. Since it has nothing to do, then, with you or your own potential to place/qualify/win, leave others to their race and focus on being less judgmental…

          • Rebecca says:

            Your analogy is flawed. Walking during parts of the run would be like doggy paddling or breast stroking parts of the swim, which is allowed. Rather, it would be like using those Roll-eez shoes with wheels on the bottom because you’re otherwise unsure you can cover the entire distance simply while running or walking. I’m all for using snorkels in your training like you would zoomers or hand paddles or pull buoys, but once race day rolls around, it’s time to leave all of those training aides at home. Swimming is not difficult. Swimming fast is, but the general act of getting from Point A to Point B in the water isn’t very hard. You shouldn’t need a snorkel to help you swim. If you need that sort of assistance and you don’t have some sort of disability that requires it, you shouldn’t be signing up for races you aren’t adequately prepared for.

  6. m young says:

    I recognize this is a relatively old thread, but I am curious about something that does not appear to have been a consideration thus far: what makes any of you think the man does not possibly have an injury that prevents his turning his head? I broke three of my vertebrae in my 20’s and now have plates and screws that hold much of my neck in a fixed position. I have yet to run an Ironman, but I trained for one since my injury and learned that swimming that distance with a rigid neck is somewhat of a handicap. If I could use a snorkel like the one in the photo and if it was legal, I surely would…and happily ignore the disdain from all around. Normally, athletes at this level seem to commend and applaud people competing in such races with war-wounds or missing limbs, but I suppose that only applies to the injuries that are so obvious that you cannot help but see them. Having brought up this point, does anyone else have a perspective to add?

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