How To Choose A Wetsuit | Open Water Swimming & Triathlon Wetsuits

– Wearing a wetsuit in a triathlon can significantly aid your swimming. It helps you keep your body warm, also helps to make you
more buoyant in the water and even act as protection
against other swimmers and their flailing arms. – Oh come on Mark, surely a
wetsuit is a wetsuit right? – Well, you’ll be surprised Mark because there are som
big differences between the wetsuit that you’re wearing and the wetsuit that I’m wearing. But I do understand it can
seem like a bit of a minefield. There are so many different
styles of wetsuits on offer, with so many different
features lending themselves to different styles of swimmers and types. So today I’m going to
be running you through how to choose a wetsuit. (upbeat music) Well the first triathlon specific wetsuit was developed in the late 1980s by a chap called Dan Enfield. He was an IRONMAN athlete
and he basically set about to try and create a wetsuit that made him faster through the water,
and also through transition. Now 40 years on and
technology and innovation have pushed this even further, and now we’ve got countless
wetsuits to choose from. Now jokes aside about wearing my surfing wetsuit for swimming but actually this is a
question that I see and hear time and time again, and in short, yes you can swim in one of
these but it is worth noting that they do generally use
a slightly thicker neoprene for insulation, and
also a slightly tougher and less flexible neoprene
for its wear and tear. Whereas a triathlon wetsuit
like I’m wearing here is more flexible, it’s
hydrodynamic through the water and super easy to remove
through transition. Well they do this by having a number of different panels with
varying neoprene thickness and that helps with
flexibility where it’s needed and also with the buoyancy for the body position in the water. But where do we actually start when we’re choosing a wetsuit? Well before we even start
picking up any wetsuits it’s important that we figure out what kind of swimmer we are. So are we someone that swims
perfectly flat in the water when we’re swimming in the pool, or are we someone that drags
our feet along the floor of a swimming pool? Now if you are new to swimming, or you’re a slightly weaker swimmer then it is very common
to have a slight drop in the hips and the legs
whilst you’re swimming. But fortunately there’s
suits for all different styles of swimming that can
actually help to improve this. So they do this by changing
the thickness of neoprene and the buoyancy from
the chest to the legs. So if you are someone that drags your legs along the bottom of the swimming pool then you’ll be looking
for something that has slightly thicker neoprene in the legs and therefore more buoyancy
compared to the chest. So a suit like this one,
and that will then help to adjust the tilt of the body and the body position to make
you flatter in the water, and therefore better. Whilst for those lucky folk
that swim relatively flat in the water already you’ll be looking for a suit that doesn’t really
affect your position or tilt in the water,
you’ll be looking for a suit that has a relatively
similar neoprene thickness between the chest and the legs, so you’ll remain nice and flat. So a suit like I’m wearing
here or this one here. Now fortunately most brands cater for all different styles of swimming, and all different positions of swimming and they’ll normally explain
this for each of the suits. Some use a series of
numbers like 3/5 or 4/4 and what these numbers
mean is, the first number is the thickness of neoprene in the chest, whilst the second number is the thickness of neoprene in the legs, so
a 3/5 for instance will mean 3 mil neoprene in the chest
and then 5 mil in the legs. So more buoyancy in the legs, that’s gonna help someone
that already drags their legs along the
bottom of a swimming pool. A 4/4’s gonna mean 4 mil on
the chest, 4 mil on the legs. So very similar buoyancy,
you’re gonna remain very flat. So that’s gonna suit
those natural swimmers who are already nice
and flat in the water. And then there’s the fit,
probably the most important part about choosing a wetsuit
because if you go too big you’ll have water gushing
in, and if you go too tight you probably won’t be
able to swim very well. Now a triathlon wetsuit
should feel more snug than your standard water sports wetsuit which does take a lot
of people by surprise, so you often see people
opting for a size too large. Fortunately most brands
offer a large range of sizes to choose from, almost
a size for everyone. They’ve got sizes for the tall yet slim, and extra female sizes for the more curvy. So you just refer to
the brands size charts using your height and
weight and if you do find that your height and
weight don’t sit within a certain size category,
they normally recommend going by your weight or of course you can contact the brand for their advice. Now on paper I’m actually
too tall for the suit that I’m wearing here, and this suit here but by going by my weight, I’ve managed to get a perfect fit, it just means that the ankle and wrist openings
sit a little bit higher then usual, takes me a
little bit longer to put on, but once it’s actually on it feels great. So a few brands offer
this style of wetsuit which basically has a thermal liner which doesn’t absorb water
so it maintains it’s loft which maximises that insulating effect. It’s not a brand new technology we’ve actually seen it
for years in surfing and water sports wetsuits,
but over the last few years they’ve started to trickle that technology into swimming and triathlon
specific wetsuits. Additionally whilst modern wetsuits are super flexible, some people
just don’t get on with them. They don’t like have
neoprene on their arms, and they find them restrictive. Now I’d normally put this
down to an incorrect size or not having the suit put on properly, but if you’ve tried
everything there are also sleeveless options that a
number of brands also do. Aside from budget, it may also come down to the importance of that wetsuit for you. Are you just starting out in triathlon, or are you needing a wetsuit
for your training swims? In which case you may well just want a cheaper, more entry level wetsuit. Or if you are a regular competitor and you’re looking to improve
on your triathlon times, beat other competitors, or win races then you may well want to spend a little bit more money,
get a higher end wetsuit that’s gonna help shave
those valuable seconds off. (upbeat music) Finally I suggest trying on
a wetsuit before you buy it, and if you can jump in the
water and try it out for real. Though I do understand
not everyone can do that, so worst case just spin your arms around to test out the flexibility of that suit. It might look silly,
but you triathlon shop will understand trust me. If you liked this video
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wetsuit versus non-wetsuit video you can just see
that by clicking down here. If you’d like to see how
to choose a running shoe just click down here.

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