Thinking about buying a wetsuit for open water swimming and triathlon? Here are a few triathlon wetsuit basics.

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  • You need to try a wetsuit on before you buy it. The fits are different from one brand to another.
  • It has to be a triathlon wetsuit.  Regular wetsuits keep you warm but they do not provide the same flotation.
  • Any triathlon wetsuit will make you faster. Weaker swimmers get more out of a wetsuit than stronger swimmers do. Swimmers whose hips and legs tend to sink will see the biggest advantage because the wetsuit brings your hips up.
  • In general when you pay more for a wetsuit you get more panels with different thicknesses of neoprene. This makes the wetsuit easier to get on and off, easier to move in and it will make you a little faster. Bottom line buying any triathlon wetsuit makes much more difference than buying a more expensive one. Having said that the more expensive models are more comfortable and easier to swim in.
  • When you go to buy one, use the size charts as a starting point and try more than one brand.
  • Keep your fingernails away from the wetsuit because they can tear the neoprene.  Trying them on you may want to put a plastic bag over your hand/foot to get it into the wetsuit. Then pull it up a section at a time (one leg to knee, other leg, then up to hips etc.). If it is really easy to get on it’s too big! If it’s impossible to get on it’s too small.
  • You should be able to get a full range of motion in your arms with the wetsuit on and you should be able to do up the neck without feeling like it’s too tight. Trying on wetsuits takes a while so come alone or bring a friend who is willing to be very supportive!
  • If you plan to race in your wetsuit check first to make sure they are allowed at the event. All triathlons allow wetsuits unless the water is too warm (the cut off depends on the race and most local events are wetsuit legal). Open water swims may or may not allow wetsuits so check before you go. Our largest local event, the Bushtukah Bring on the Bay 3K Open Water Swim does allow wetsuits.

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