Preparing for Your First Triathlon Swim in a Wetsuit
Lauren Collison November 10th, 2017 Posted In: How-To Tags: Triathlon
Gearing up for Greatness: How to Prepare for Your First Time Triathlon Swim in a Wetsuit
Getting all ready for your triathlon swim in a wetsuit can be a daunting task if you’re a first-time triathlete. But when your new suit is finally delivered, figuring out how to start using it can be an even bigger challenge. Here are 10 easy tips on how to prepare for a your first-time triathlon swim in a wetsuit!
1. Don’t Panic
You might feel a little cramped at first. You may feel short of breath or flighty. Take some deep breaths, sit down and take time to get to know your new suit. A little claustrophobia at first is normal. You can move through it. That doesn’t mean it should be too tight. A wetsuit fits best when it fits snugly, like a second skin. If it’s too tight, you should choose another wetsuit.
2. Expose Your Wrists and Ankles
Many athletes make the mistake of covering these end-point joints, but this hinders your freedom of movement. Pull the sleeves and pants up so your wrists and ankles are exposed and completely free to move.
3. Beware of Stubble and Nail Snags
Triathlon wetsuits are made from delicate smoothskin neoprene that can easily be damaged by a fingernail tear or toenail snag. Tip: wear socks on your hands, or light running gloves when you put it on, and patch any tears with AquaSeal immediately.
4. Kick Softly
The buoyancy that a wetsuit designed for triathlons adds to your body is significant. That means you don’t have to kick as hard as you do when you’re swimming without one. Just some gentle propulsion from the hips is all you need. If you’re a swimmer who is new to wearing a wetsuit, give yourself plenty of time in the water to get used to your new swimming style.
5. Spend Time Wearing Your Wetsuit
Many wetsuits have a break-in period, just like new shoes. But more importantly, you need to be comfortable in it. That’s why it’s so important to spend time wearing and getting accustomed to the feeling of a new suit. Spend time with it, and make peace with your wetsuit.
6. Bend Those Elbows
Many triathletes report feeling stiff in the arms. During a race, your elbows must bend a lot farther than your knees. Your elbow recovery should be as high in a suit as it is without one, and your under body stroke should have a sharp bend, not a straight arm. If the elbows just don’t feel right, a sleeveless wetsuit may be a better option.
7. Train in Your Suit, and Train Hard
Too many triathletes take prolonged open-water swims at an easy pace during training and do not push themselves toward a racing pace. It should go without saying that you need to train at peak levels. You need to experience the body heat, lung expansion and increased blood vessel size that will occur during a race. Otherwise, you won’t be in shape for the race, and you may panic when your suit becomes tight.
8. Train to Get Out of Your Suit Quickly
Transitioning from the swimming segment into the next segment is part of the race too. If you’re not used to taking your suit off rapidly, you’ll fumble and lose time. Imagine you’re the best swimmer in the race, only to lose your time advantage just because you don’t know how to get out of your suit as fast as possible. Don’t let it happen to you.
9. Use Body Glide
Most triathlon wetsuits have anti-chafing features, but Body Glide makes it last over long distances and helps with areas that are extra prone to chafing like the neck and armpits. Grease up your arms, legs and trunk to make sure you can slip out of your suit quickly. Also, don’t forget to lube the back of your neck to avoid chafing.
10. Caring for Your Suit
Triathlon wetsuits need special care. Every wetsuit needs a good freshwater rinse after having been in the ocean. Use a high quality wetsuit shampoo and conditioner and let it dry in the sun. Use AquaSeal to mend nail snags. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for care and use. A good suit can be your best friend in the water. Treat it well, and it will take you far.
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