What should I pay attention to when choosing a wetsuit? Why should I wear a wetsuit?
Wetsuits are one of the most crucial pieces of equipment for triathlons or open water swimming competitions. Specifically designed for these activities, triathlon/swimming wetsuits serve to keep the body warm and aid athletes in swimming with a fast and comfortable technique. These wetsuits differ significantly in technology from those used for diving or surfing.
Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly understand the features when choosing a wetsuit.
Correct Sizing of Wetsuits
When choosing a wetsuit, the most important thing to consider is body size. Selecting based on the size charts provided by brands usually ensures choosing the right size.
The wetsuit should feel both comfortable and snug when worn. It should not cause folds or creases. It should provide a range of motion for swimming when you lift your arms and rotate them. It should not restrict your shoulders too much. The neck area should be comfortable without causing any pressure on the throat. The sleeves and legs should fit tightly to prevent water from entering.
Feeling discomfort or tightness during your first try is entirely normal. It's important not to expect the same comfort as leggings or a T-shirt when choosing a wetsuit in order to select the right size:)
Important Points to Consider in Wetsuit Selection
Buoyancy and Flexibility
Wetsuits are made from neoprene, a material that naturally floats in water, allowing for easier and faster swimming the closer it stays to the surface. As the thickness of the neoprene material increases, buoyancy, or lifting force, also increases, but flexibility decreases.
Thinner layers in a wetsuit provide more flexibility, facilitating movement and saving energy. Therefore, when choosing a wetsuit, it is important to consider the thickness of neoprene, with thinner layers in areas with movable joints such as the arms and shoulders and thicker neoprene in the chest and leg areas.
The thickness of the material depends on individual needs and preferences. For instance, if you are accustomed to swimming without kicking or feel your lower body sinking while swimming, you may prefer wetsuits with thicker material in the leg area.
Wetsuits retain a small amount of water between the suit and the body, creating a barrier that allows your body to heat the water, forming insulation against the cold. However, it is crucial to ensure that the wetsuit is tight enough because excessive water entry can retain water, slowing you down.
If you are using a wetsuit that fits your body well, you can clearly measure that you are swimming faster with less effort. Conducting a controlled test in a pool, isolated from external factors, provides a nice comparison. Therefore, using a wetsuit in races where it is allowed offers a significant advantage, and no athlete would want to waste that advantage, I'm sure :)