by Jonas Colting
I'm writing about Naked Health in my latest book and have divided chapters into Naked Training, Naked Food and so forth, with the word "naked" working as a metaphor for something primal, genuine and unspoiled. There's no chapter on Naked Racing though. The truth is that this wouldn't be a metaphor but rather something from real life. I've raced naked. Literally. With just a pair of goggles.
Let me tell you, goggles alone won't make you feel dressed!
I did a camp in South Africa in February of 2000 with my friend Martin Flinta. It was a hot as hell from the get go. Without air conditioning in the house we resorted to profusely sweating and lots of cold showers.
Through local triathletes we were invited to Club Mykonos in Langebaan to race their olympic distance triathlon. I remember that I had a bum hamstring at this time so I was content with just swimming and cycling and getting passed on the running.
Upon finishing my ride I stood in the sun relaxing. I considered my lackluster race to be a tactical maneuver more than anything as word was out that there would be a swim race staged later the same day. Much later -- like midnight! That's an awkward time for anybody to race, but since there was talk about prize money I didn't give it much thought and instead I worked on getting psyched as I smugly watched my competition sweat their way through the hot run.
Pride goeth before a fall because as I was standing there confident of future victories I began feeling cold and sick. That turned into a major illness that put me to bed for the day. Obviously I had contracted a mild case of heatstroke and I felt miserable. Swimming was the furthest thing from my mind.
Later in the night I started to feel better and at 11 p.m. I felt well enough to drink a coke and take a walk down to the marina with the prospect of perhaps swimming after all.
Once there I quickly realized that this wasn't your average swim race. The rules stated the competitors to be naked and the race finish was not in the water but on the night club stage just adjacent of the marina. Goggles were allowed but didn't exactly contribute to a dressed up feeling.
There's a first in life for everything and protected by the dark, I and the rest of the field undressed and snuck in the water. We weren't so much worried by our nudity as by the thought of what any and all sharks could bite their teeth into. We got down and prepared for the 500 meters of swimming at hand.
To make a short story even shorter, I came in second and ran up on stage where I quickly made use of the official race T-shirt offered upon finishing.
The speaker and race organizer acknowledged that I had overcome my temporary illness just in time for the swim, maybe in order to not miss this rare opportunity, and commented, "Just what you'd expect from a Swede!”