We all know that it’s hard to look fabulous in a wetsuit, but at the very least you should hope to be comfortable. It’s such an important part of your triathlon kit, and its design is aimed at providing additional flotation, reducing drag in the water and making you feel less cold in the water. This should ultimately improve your body position in the water and enable efficient swim movement, as long as you have got your sizing and fit right.
Get the sizing right…
Firstly, bear in mind that when you do buy or hire a wetsuit, you will often see the sizing reflected with both height and weight, and that’s pretty crucial. If your weight is outside of that designated for the height, then do consider going up a size as the weight element is more important than the height.
If you don’t have a weight option when you make your purchase, then for men, the important measurements are waist and chest as these two measurements will ensure you have the correct sized suit, that fits you well and ensures you stay warm. For women, you can pretty much go with your dress size if you’re a standard size, however if you are different top and bottom size, then opt for the larger of the two sizes.
Tight is good!
When you have got your wetsuit on, then you should be led by your own comfort factor. Bear in mind that you will not be bending over, doing star jumps or any such thing but you do need to be able to complete the actions of swimming easily, so focus on those type of movements to get a feel for the wetsuit. And remember, a wetsuit should be tight! Not so tight that you feel like you can’t breathe and may possibly keel over, but definitely tighter than you’re used to in all your everyday clothing!
Breathing is essential!
When you get into your wetsuit for the first time, take your time to pull it into place in all areas. Once you have your legs in and the wetsuit pulled up between your legs, then pull up the body and get your arms comfortably in. Remember that the key importance is that it is snug to your body, across your torso and back, but you can still comfortably breathe. If the suit doesn’t fit you closely across the small of the back then this is where it will full up with water and work against you rather than aiding your swim.
Don’t focus too much on the length of the arms and legs, because ultimately this doesn’t really matter (as long as you are not swamped by the suit – which would indicate you have a size too large!). Slightly short arms or legs won’t really be noticeable and slightly long arms or legs can be trimmed down.
You’ll also need to consider how the wetsuit feels around your neck, another area where you don’t want it to be too tight and make you feel uncomfortable (but do dear in mind that some stretching will happen when the suit is wet and with a few wears).
Your second skin…
7till8 have a great article covering “how tight should a wetsuit be?” which you can read here. Ideally, a triathlon wetsuit should fit like a second skin, and you should have full range of motion in your shoulders. Swing your arms, stretch them out and see how that feels – if you’re not comfortable, don’t be afraid to send your wetsuit back (assuming you haven’t used it in water) and keep trying different brands / sizes until you find a fit you’re happy with.