How to Choose a Wetsuit for Competitive Triathlons
How to Pick a Wetsuit for Competitive Triathlons
Triathlons are seriously competitive these days, and competitors are always looking for ways to improve their performance. Just an extra one or two percent in terms of speed or endurance can make all the difference, which is why choosing a triathlon wetsuit is so important.
Here are a few tips for choosing the best possible wetsuit for competitive triathlons:
Make Sure the Fit is Right for Competition
Triathlon wetsuits differ in fits so you want to make sure that the suit you get for the competition fits just right. Make sure the wetsuit is snug but not tight. There should be no loose material or folds, but you should still be able to rotate your shoulder fully. The neckline should not be noticeably tight; ideally, it should — along with the legs and arms of the wetsuit — allow water in.
Assess Buoyancy and Flexibility
A little buoyancy is always a good thing, but too much can cause drag. Rubber or neoprene wetsuits float naturally, but not all deliver the same results. The higher you are in the water, the faster you’ll be able to swim. But proceed with caution: thicker wetsuits deliver more buoyancy, but they also make you less flexible.
Triathlon wetsuits feature varying levels of thickness. As a simple rule of thumb, look for suits that are thinner in the arms, shoulders, legs and chest. The wetsuit you decide on needs to suit your style of swimming. Thinner wetsuits make movement easier, which helps to conserve energy — but they could leave you floating lower in the water.
Be Wary of Excess Tightness
Excess tightness restricts the flow of water into the suit, potentially leaving you colder and less mobile. Try the wetsuit on to ensure there are no painful restrictions everywhere. You’ll need to move around quite a lot to check. Perform a few swimming motions and be aware of any excess tightness.
A good triathlon wetsuit moves with you, not against you. A lot of people make the mistake of buying a wetsuit that is too short for them. You can tell a wetsuit is too short if it’s riding up in the crotch area.
Think About Your Preferred Cut
The cut you choose depends on your style of swimming, transitioning and personal preferences. If you want full body coverage and added buoyancy, a full-sleeved wetsuit is probably the way to go. If, however, you favor increased mobility over buoyancy, give a sleeveless suit a try. Full triathlon wetsuits work best for cool to cold water temps (think 50 degrees Fahrenheit & up). A full wetsuit works to keep you warm and comfortable all while reducing drag and increasing speed. Meanwhile, a long john or long jane works best for cool to warm water temps. However, they can also be worn in cooler temps (depending on your cold tolerance). Because they’re sleeveless, they provide a full range of motion in the arms as well as mobility.
There is always a balance to be struck between mobility, warmth and buoyancy when it comes to choosing a wetsuit for triathlons. Ultimately, it all comes down to your personal preferences.