Gear Guides: choosing a triathlon or swimming wetsuit

This article was originally published in April 2019. Brands and events mentioned have been updated and the advice remains highly useful for anyone looking for a new wetsuit this year.

With the increasing popularity of outdoor swimming and triathlon, we thought it was the perfect time to look back on our wetsuit guide to help you get kitted up for the summer. You don’t have to be a competitive triathlete to benefit from a good wetsuit – all abilities and types of swimmers can use them, and it can make a big difference to your time in the water.

Triathlon is a unique sport for novices and experts alike, with the chance to really push yourself in different ways across the three disciplines of swim, bike and run. Often you get the chance to take on this challenge in some of the most stunning scenery in the UK, like the iconic Always Aim High Slateman Triathlon in the rugged Snowdonia hills. If you’re new to triathlon there are a couple of pieces of specialist kit to consider, starting with a triathlon wetsuit.

The iconic swim leg of the SportPursuit Slateman Triathlon – surrounded by the mountains of Snowdonia, you can bet a wetsuit is a good idea before diving in!

Brands like Aqua Sphere, 2XU and Huub have refined wetsuit design specifically for triathlon to give you key benefits on your swim stage:

  • Warmth – a key reason to get a wetsuit is to keep your body the correct temperature. If you are competing, then be sure to check the British Triathlon Federation Rules (or equivalent for your event) as wetsuits are compulsory below certain temperatures (14°C) and banned above certain temperatures (22°C) – this can change depending on the swim distance.
  • Buoyancy – triathlon wetsuits can be specially designed to provide more float around your hips and legs, which can help your swim technique and improve the efficiency of your stroke.
  • Speed – the slick, streamlined profile of a wetsuit can help you drive through the water smoothly. As well as this a well-built wetsuit with different panels for a performance compression fit can help support your muscles for effective power transfer.

Jump straight in and see the great deals we have on high performance triathlon wetsuits on SportPursuit now.

Wetsuit Style

The first thing to decide is what style of wetsuit you are looking for: full body, sleeveless, or shorty.

Full body wetsuits: the majority of triathletes in the UK will choose a full length wetsuit as it will offer the best insulation against cold in our chillier waters. For people new to open water swimming and especially having lots of other people in the water, a full length wetsuit also offers comparably more protection.

Sleeveless wetsuits: all performance wetsuits are engineered to maintain good mobility around the shoulders so that the suit does not interfere with your arm stroke. However, if you’re looking for even more flexibility in this area, and don’t mind a reduced level of warmth from the wetsuit, sleeveless could be the way to go.

Shorty: for warmer-water swimming or people who aren’t looking for as much insulation, sleeveless or short-armed wetsuits with shorter leg lengths are also available. One variation on these is specific Swim Run wetsuits, which are engineered differently to specialise for those events.

Don’t forget that for any type of wetsuit you’ll need to wear something underneath! For quick transition into the bike stage many triathletes will wear a one-piece trisuit under their wetsuit that is suitable for the bike and run, rather than having to change into separate kit.

Once the swim stage is complete get ready for a quick transition with a trisuit underneath your wetsuit – efficient changeovers can mean you shave a few precious seconds of your race time!

Wetsuit Fit

Triathlon wetsuits are designed to fit snug to your body to maximise the streamlining and compression benefits, so you need to make sure they fit well. When you’re browsing our latest triathlon sales be sure to refer to the specific manufacturer size charts as different brands may have marginally different sizing. Have your height and weight to hand so you can accurately judge the right size. If in doubt or between sizes, your weight is the better guideline to ensure the fit is right, and do bear in mind that the material should be snug for good performance.

Once your wetsuit arrives, make sure you get used to putting it on correctly – thin, tight neoprene can be difficult to get into and if you’re not careful you could damage it with sharp objects or your nails. This helpful video from Huub shows the key steps of putting on a wetsuit with pro triathlete Richard ‘The Fish’ Varga.

If you have any more questions about the right kit to pick, just message our customer service team through the SportPursuit store chat. Or if you’re ready to jump straight in and see the great deals we have on high performance triathlon wetsuits, browse on SportPursuit now.

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