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How to choose a wetsuit

If you’re new to open water swimming or triathlons, chances are you will be faced with the question of how to choose a wetsuit.

And when you’re spending hundreds of pounds on something that can affect your swimming so much, it’s important to get this choice right.

Even if you’re simply hiring a wetsuit at a competition, making the wrong choice can result in valuable seconds – or minutes – lost.

So before you dive in and invest in the shiniest, brightest or most expensive, take a look at our tips for how to choose a wetsuit.

Try before your buy

As our open water blogger Val says, if you’re buying a wetsuit, it’s a good idea to find somewhere which offers a ‘try before you buy’ option.

Some shops offer sessions where you can try on a range of wetsuits at a local pool and work out which one suits you best.

If you have friends of a similar shape and size who own a wetsuit, perhaps ask them nicely if you can try theirs.

4 tips for choosing a wetsuit

It should go without saying that your wetsuit needs to be comfortable. Swimming in open water can be challenging enough as it without a poorly-fitted wetsuit literally dragging you back.

Flexibility in the right places is also vital. Once inside your wetsuit, try practicing some arm strokes and stretching to the ceiling. You should be able to move your arms without lots of pressure on your shoulders.

How else do you know if a wetsuit is the right fit? They key contact points are around the wrists, neck and ankles.

  1. The wrists of the suit should conform well to your body. As your arm pushes through the water you don’t want cold water shooting up the arm. This will cause drag, and fill the suit with water and the wetsuit will not work at its best.
  2. The neck of the suit should conform to the neck and be as tight as possible without feeling like you are being throttled! Again, if too loose, the water will shoot down your suit and the wetsuit will not work correctly.
  3. Tapered legs down to the ankles ensure more streamlined kick and help with getting the suit on and off.

The fourth thing to consider when you’re picking your suit is the material used, which is usually reflected in the price

  1. In terms of performance, you should look for a suit with as much rubber versus material (neoprene) as possible. There will be different grades of rubber (which will also effect the price) but the less material the better. Material on the outside of a wetsuit is heavy and will soak up water over time.