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Our Guide to Buying: Wetsuits

What is the difference between Triathlon wetsuits and surfing wetsuits?


In a nutshell

When competing in a triathlon, it is important that you have the right type of cycling clothing and that includes getting the right style of wetsuit. Triathlon wetsuits are very different from surfing wetsuits and are designed to be flexible, buoyant and fast. Flexibility around the shoulders is key in a triathlon wetsuit – it allows free arm movement essential for a front crawl. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the suit, the higher the grade of neoprene material used and the more flexible it will be.

Buoyancy


Do triathlon wetsuits come in different levels of buoyancy?

Many triathlon wetsuits use differing thicknesses of neoprene or panels of extra buoyant materials to help balance swimmers in the water. This typically means lifting the legs to be in line with the chest and head – the horizontal position that creates the least drag in the water.

Differing buoyancy levels can suit different builds and body types – athletes whose legs sink in the water (typically cyclists) will likely need more buoyancy to lift their legs. Female triathletes should choose a female-specific suit, which will take into account the natural buoyancy of the female body.


What sort of triathlon wetsuit should I buy for a beginner?

Less confident swimmers are usually better with more buoyant suits, which in turn give more support. Experienced swimmers with naturally good body positioning may prefer less buoyancy, which can allow for a more natural stroke – ideal when you’re trying to beat a personal best!


Zips and Other Features


What special features do triathlon wetsuits have?

Most triathlon wetsuits are zipped at the back, most from bottom to top so that a downward tug is required to get the suit open after swimming. Some suits, typically on the higher end of the price scale, feature reverse zips, which pull up to release. These can be a little easier to get off, but they’re also harder to get on.

Some suits have catch panels on the arms, which are either designed to act as a paddle would – increasing surface area for a more propulsive catch – or to aid ‘feel’ on the water to prompt better technique. Don’t let these features – or lack of them – dictate your purchase though; they don’t make a lot of difference.


Fitting the Wetsuit


How do I Fit a Triathlon Wetsuit?

Different wetsuit companies use different cuts for their suits, so you might want to try a few different brands to see what fits best with your body shape. Zone3, Orec and Xterra are a few good examples. The ideally fitted suit is snug but not too restrictive over the chest, shoulders and neck.

When trying on a suit, put your feet in first (carrier bags on each foot help with this) and then work the suit up to your waist. Then put your arms through one at a time, again working the suit slowly up your arms and over your shoulder before doing the same with the other arm. Then flex your shoulder blades back and do the zip up.


How can I tell when the triathlon wetsuit fits properly?

When checking if the wetsuit fits properly, If you squat down, there shouldn’t be a gap between your crotch and the suit. Plus if you raise your arms and there’s very little gap between your suit and armpits, then it’s on properly. If the suit is proud of your armpits, then work more material up onto the shoulders until there’s a snug fit. It doesn’t matter if the arms and legs appear too short – if the suit fits around your body correctly, with no big gaps or over-constriction of the chest, that’s what matters.

Once you are sure of the fit, you are good to go! Evans Cycles also offers a click and collect service, so once you know what fits best, you can reserve it online for collection at your local store.