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Wetsuit Advice

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If you are just starting out in triathlon or are a weak swimmer, the best investment you can make is in a good wetsuit. It will make you a faster, more comfortable and confident swimmer.

The main purpose of the wetsuit is warmth but benefits include added speed, buoyancy and energy conservation during the swim.When purchasing a wetsuit, you need to make sure you buy the correct type of wetsuit, that the suit is the correct size and fit, that it is comfortable without restricting movement or allowing too much water in. Find out which wetsuit manufacturers will allow you to try out some demo suits before actually buying one. The fit and comfort will affect whether the suit works for you or not, and the best way to tell if the suit is correct and effective for you, is to swim in it.

A swimming wetsuit is completely different to a wetsuit that you would use for surfing or scuba diving. Surfing or diving wetsuits are designed primarily for warmth and protection, so they are much heavier. Trying to swim in these suits causes excessive drag, much like swimming with your clothes on.
A swimming wetsuit is a highly sophisticated neoprene-rubber blend that is hydrophobic and has been specifically designed to suit the needs of different levels of triathletes. In other words the wetsuit exterior actually repels water and helps you to move through the water faster.

The different sections of the wetsuit are of different thicknesses, providing varying ammounts of buoyancy. The shoulders and arms should be thinner and more flexible, so as not to limit your mobility or affect the reach of your stroke. The chest and parts of the legs will be thicker so as to help with buoyancy and reduce drag in the water. The ends of the arms and legs should be extra flexible, providing a good water-tight seal, and allowing stretch so as to get the suit off faster.  A good neck seal is vital (without suffocating you), or else the neck becomes a water scoop and the suit will fill up with water causing drag and making you heavier. 

You also need to make sure you can get out of the suit quickly and easily enough. It doesn’t help gaining minutes in the swim only to lose them because you can’t get the suit off. Practice loosening the neck, unzipping and pulling your arms out and your suit down to the waist whilst running from the swim area to the transition.

There are also sleeved and sleeveless options available. This is basically comes down to your personal preference and comfort, but generally full length sleeved suits are faster. There’s more neoprene, so the suit provides more buoyancy and less drag. Sleeves shouldn’t impair your shoulder movement or the recovery part of your stroke, if the wetsuit is fit and worn correctly.

When putting the wetsuit on, make sure the crotch is a high as it will go. Anything too short or too tight will affect your mobility and shorten your stroke. Anything too long will allow lots of water in and make you heavier in the water. Pull the sleeves slightly higher, away from the wrists, allowing more flexibility and movement in the shoulder area.  Make sure the neck is sealed securely, but that you can still breathe. It’s a good idea to use Vaseline or Body glide around the neck area so as to prevent chafing. You can also use some around the wrist and ankle area to help with taking the suit off.

It’s vital to train in your wetsuit a couple of times before race day, so that you get used to the suit and know what to expect.  Also be sure to do a good warm up on race day, swing your arms, stretch and loosen the shoulders up.

Whichever suit you decide on, a triathlon specific wetsuit will make you a faster swimmer and is one of the best investments you can make in your triathlon journey.

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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