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Wetsuit Fitting

The vast majority of us have purchased a pair of running shoes in our lifetime. And even more of us would have ridden a bike. But how many have put on a very tight fitting suit of neoprene and dived into a lake?! Not quite as many I would guess.

This is why when first entering the world of triathlon the swim leg is often the most daunting and the purchasing of the essential wetsuit the most difficult. A quick search on the internet will bring more choice than you could imagine and even more questions than you first had. We are here to help answer a few of these questions and give the best advice on getting a wetsuit right for you.

Firstly, swimming/triathlon wetsuits are very different to those used in surfing and other water sports. Wetsuits designed for swimming have buoyancy in key areas and most importantly, flexibility in the shoulders, arms and back. This is vital as it will allow your arms to move freely through the swim stroke and not fatigue your muscles. This freedom of movement and flexibility is created in slightly different ways by different brands, however it is a constant that higher grade materials, neoprene and linings for two, are a major factor in this. The higher grade materials is one of the main differences between an entry level wetsuit and more expensive options. On the more expensive suits, the materials used throughout will be of a higher quality, often extremely flexible. Entry level suits will use cheaper types of neoprene in non-essential areas and will often feel stiffer. The differences really stand out when handling the suits and obviously when swimming in them. A more expensive suit will generally feel better and more flexible, resulting in a faster swim.

Regardless of your budget, the single most important part of buying a wetsuit is ensuring it is the right size. The most common mistake made is to buy a wetsuit that is too big. When trying one on it MUST be difficult to get on at first. It is great fun to watch people putting them on for the first time! It should involve perspiration and a look of distress! They are designed to be worn in water so will never be very comfortable out of it, although there should be no restriction when rotating the shoulders. If a wetsuit goes on easily, the moment you try to swim the suit will fill with water and instantly slow you down. If water can flush through the suit too you also lose any real thermal benefits as fresh, cold water will keep moving against your skin. With a full range of sizes available, we would ensure that the suit was the correct style and fit for you. Each brand and model will be ‘cut’ differently and with all of us being extremely varied in our shapes, some models will suit a particular build better than others. This simply emphasizes the need and importance of trying suits on before purchasing.

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Key Fitting Points for Wetsuits:

  • Suits must be well fitted, as tight as possible before feeling restrictive.
  • Skin ‘coverage’ from length in the arms and legs is not important but length of body is.
  • Shoulder rotation is the single most important aspect of body and wetsuit movement.
  • Some wetsuits are designed for specific levels and types of swimmer. Strong swimmers with good natural buoyancy will benefit from a different wetsuit to a weaker swimmer with ‘sinking legs’.

Please see our full selection of wetsuits here