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Triathlon Wetsuits

Whether you are an experienced or beginning triathlete, a triathlon wetsuit can be one of the most beneficial pieces of gear you can buy. The leading wetsuit manufacturers all have different features and you are bound to hear differing opinions about the necessity of a wetsuit, but here are some facts about wetsuits that will help you make an informed decision about purchasing one.

The Basics:

Buoyancy - The neoprene used to make wetsuits naturally floats. Depending on how well you already swim this floating effect can be very helpful. The higher you float in the water the easier/faster your swim. For many, this is the biggest reason to buy a wetsuit.

Warmth - A wetsuit provides a certain degree of warmth. When you get in the water with your wetsuit, water will seap into the suit. The suits are designed to hold a small amount of water and then keep it there. Your body warms that layer of water and it forms a barrier between you and the cold.

Flexibility - Triathlon wetsuits are made with different thickness and styles of neoprene to maximize flexibility. The more flexible the suit, the more freely you will be able rotate your arms and shoulders, resulting in less fatigue.

Hydrodynamics - Most triathlon wetsuits are now manufactured with a silicon surface treatment that makes them slippery. Typically this will make the suit slippery to the touch and even more slippery in the water. Even without the treatment, a triathlon wetsuit will inherently reduce the amount of drag you create in the water.


Proper wetsuit fit allows good swimming range of motion while reducing extra room for too much water inside the suit, which would limit buoyancy and hydrodynamics. The bottom line is that a triathlon wetsuit should fit like a second skin, and you should have full range of motion in your shoulders.

Putting on a wetsuit takes patience. Take your time. Remember, you have all the time before the race to put your suit on. DO NOT USE EXCESSIVE FORCE OR PULL ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE SUIT WITH YOUR FINGERNAILS.

Instructions: You want to try on your suit in a cool room and you want to be completely dry.

  1. The shiny surface of the suit goes on the outside; zipper goes in back.
  2. Push your foot through the foot opening and pull the opening to the top of your ankle or mid-calf depending on the cut of the suit. You might try wearing socks or plastic bags on your feet for ease.
  3. Pulling from the inside of the suit, slide the suit up over calf, knee, and thigh  this is easier if you “roll” it up your leg from the inside.
  4. Once both legs are on, work the suit up as high into your crotch as possible. If trying a full sleeve suit, work the arms on like you did with the legs one section at a time.
  5. Now pull on the body and zip. You may need assistance getting zipped, and it helps to keep your shoulders back.
Now that you've got the suit on, take a look in the mirror. Does the suit fit like a second skin? Stretch and swing your arms. Do you have good range of motion?


Caring for your wetsuit:

  1. After every use, rinse the suit out with clean cool tap water. This will get rid of most all the nasty stuff that gets on your suit.
  2. After you rinse out the suit, make sure you dry it completely. Hang the suit over a shower rod for one day. Turn the suit inside out and let it hang for another day. Never use a heat source (hair or clothes dryer) to dry your wetsuit.
  3. Once you have dried your wetsuit completely, you can then safely store your wetsuit.
Storing your wetsuit:
  1. Hanging - Wetsuits should only be hung on a wide or padded hanger.
  2. Folding - Another way to store your wetsuit is to fold it up and place it in the closet without anything on top of it. Here is one method for folding your wetsuit to avoid creasing the suit.
Lubricants: Lubricants can help in taking off your wetsuit and help to prevent chafing. Warning: Do not to use any petroleum based products (like petroleum jelly) as they will hurt your wetsuit. A safe and easy to use product is BodyGlide. It comes in a deoderant style tube and can be used all over. Apply it liberally to your neck, ankles, wrists, and around your arm at the shoulder for sleeveless suits.

Repairs: The most common repair needed on a wetsuit is the nail dig. These issues if not fixed can turn into very big tears, but you can easily fix these in your own home with some AquaSeal Wetsuit Repair Adhesive. Checkout this step by step approach or just follow the directions on the adhesive.