If the triathlon you are planning to do features an open water swim, a wetsuit is a must. In some cases they are mandatory and so you must wear one. Not only this, due to the fact they aid with buoyancy, they can be a vital part of the swim.
In this guide, you will find expert information about sizing, fitting, and much more so that you know exactly what to look for when investing in a wetsuit for triathlon. Whether you're renting or buying, don't do anything until you've read this guide!
One of the most advantageous aspects of wearing a wetsuit for your open water swim is the buoyancy. However, you need a wetsuit that isn't too buoyant because it could cause back ache and make breaststroke swimming virtually impossible.
The only way you can tell if the buoyancy in your chosen wetsuit is correct is to swim in it before you buy it. Some retailers have pools where you can try the wetsuit in the water and even be videoed to see if the buoyancy in the legs is right for you.
As a general rule, the more you pay for your wetsuit, the more flexible it will be. Flexibility increases your level of comfort, so think about how long you will be wearing your suit in each open water session. A long distance swimmer should always go for maximum flexibility, while someone who races exclusively in sprint triathlons could get away with a cheaper, less flexible wet suit. But think ahead – you may only be doing short swims this season, but if your goal for next year is an Ironman or 2 mile swim, you'll want to invest in a more expensive wetsuit.
All wetsuits provide you with warmth and the layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit will warm up quickly once you get moving. If you particularly suffer with the cold early or late in the season, there are wetsuits that have a special thermal lining inside to keep you warm. This feature would be particularly useful for someone planning a big challenge like swimming the Channel or doing a triathlon in a colder country.
If you do suffer from the cold, you may also need to invest in a neoprene swim cap as well as socks and gloves. Make sure you check with race organisers first that you can wear them in an event.
Unless you are a very unusual shape, there should be no need to buy a custom-made suit as there is a wide variety of sizes available to fit everyone. All wetsuit brands have size charts but they are all unique to their brand, so check the chart carefully if you are buying online.
Top Tip: Avoid buying a unisex suit as men and women are shaped differently.
The video below is a demonstration of how to put on a wetsuit. Ensure that the seal around your neck is fitted properly and is good quality, otherwise the wetsuit will fill up with water. For maximum comfort, you will need to spend around 10-15 minutes getting the suit on and smoothing out any creases.
There are a few different types of zips available. Make sure you are familiar with your zip and how it works before your event. A breakaway zipper offers the quickest exit for triathlon but not if you are unfamiliar with its operation. More expensive suits will often have a very lightweight zip which slides up and down quickly, making getting in and out of the wetsuit quicker for more streamlined transition times.
A wetsuit that is cared for properly will last you 3-4 years, but sometimes things do go wrong. An 18-month or 2 year warranty should be offered with your wetsuit purchase if you buy from a reputable dealer.
Buying Versus Renting
Buying online without trying it on first on can be a very costly mistake. Always ask a professional for advice before investing money in a wetsuit. Buying a wetsuit is a big investment for most people and it's worth taking the time to do some research and travel to visit a shop where you can try before you buy.
Not only this, it's important to make sure you are buying a swimming-specific wetsuit and not a surf or diving wetsuit. Sadly, surfing wetsuits are often sold to triathletes and swimmers but this type of suit can slow you down and restrict the movement of your arms - not what you want for a race!
An entry-level wetsuit can start at just £120 while top-of-the-range suits could set you back up to £600. The middle mark of £300 will give you a great choice of mid-range wetsuits.
If you are unsure about buying a wetsuit, you can hire a wetsuit for the season or just for your event. Lots of triathlon events will have a wetsuit hire facility available on the day, and all good stores will offer a rental facility.
About the authors: Gill and Dawn are professional triathlon swim coaches, ex-triathletes, and experts on wetsuits. Together they run Tri N Swim Well, a private swim coaching facility in Essex and wetsuit showroom.
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Read More: Triathlon Swimming Goggle Guide
While swimming goggles may seem like a simple bit of triathlon equipment, there are a lot of things to look out for and they could make or break your race or swim competition. Sundried’s triathlon swimming goggle guide is here to help you select the right swim goggles for you, as well as giving advice on fitting, style, and lenses.
Fitting your swim goggles
The most essential part of choosing a pair of swim goggles is checking the fit. Everyone has a differently shaped face and so what works for some may not work for you. If the eye cups are large, they are more likely to fit a wider range of people. However, a lot of triathlon swim goggles feature a smaller, sleeker eye socket, which will need to be checked to make sure they fit your face.
Especially if you’re going to be racing in an open water swim, you need to make sure your vision is a good as possible, so making sure your goggles fit properly and do not leak is paramount. Check that your goggles have an adjustable nose bridge and if you’re not sure about the fit, opt for ones with larger eye cups.
Swim Goggles Shape
Secondly, the shape of your goggles is also important as it can hugely affect their comfort on your face as well as your performance. If you’re a serious athlete for whom every second counts, your goggles can make a surprising impact on this as they can affect drag in the water. Put simply, the less bulky the goggles, the less drag you will experience and the more speed you will be able to achieve. If speed is your primary goal, look for goggles that sit within your eye socket and are streamlined in design. The Sundried Pacific goggles are the best ones for you in this instance. It is important to note, however, that this can impact comfort and these types of goggles may not be as comfortable as others.
If your race features an open water swim with a mass start, you’re probably already aware that you need to expect to be bashed about by other swimmers. If your goggles have a bigger seal, they are less likely to become dislodged and this will mean a much better swim. In this case, the Sundried Legend goggles are best for you as they have a bulkier frame and more secure seal.
Triathlon Swim Goggles Lenses
The lenses of your swim goggles are the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to performing well and achieving your goals whether you’re in the pool, lake, or sea. There are different types of lenses on the market, and Sundried have two on offer- polarised and mirror.
Polarised lenses are popular among products such as sunglasses and ski goggles as they reduce glare from the water and snow meaning visibility is greatly increased. If your triathlon features an open water swim in a sunny country, polarised lenses are the ones for you as they will reduce the glare of the sun on the surface of the water, meaning you are less likely to be blinded by the light and will be able to see better and focus on your swim performance.
Mirrored lenses work by dimming the light around you, meaning they’re perfect if you swim in an outdoor pool abroad somewhere sunny or if you practise a lot of backstroke. These lenses are not so good if you do a lot of swimming in indoor pools as your visibility will be reduced.
All of the Sundried swim goggles feature anti-fog technology and UV protection.
The Sundried swim goggles are coming soon.