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Ironman Wetsuits

Regulations abound when searching for legal Ironman wetsuits. The manufacturer of your particular wetsuit should be able to advise you if their equipment meets the guidelines. You should check your current equipment for compliance as the latest Ironman Triathlon regulations update, posted on September 1, 2010.

Current Guidelines

Here are a few of the current rules you need to consider when choosing a new wetsuit or checking your current gear for competition guidelines:

  • Wetsuits are required to measure five millimeters thick or less, with standard variances allowed for seams and non-buoyant jersey material

  • Wetsuits are permitted in water temperature up to (and including) 76.1 Fahrenheit or colder.

  • No wetsuits permitted in water temperatures greater than 83.8 Fahrenheit.

  • Athletes choosing to wear a wetsuit in water temperatures between 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit and 83.8 degrees Fahrenheit are not eligible for awards, including World Championship slots.

  • Full wetsuits are permitted if they meet the preceding guidelines

These may seem like rigorous standards, but the Ironman competition, as the name denotes, is intended for the best of the best. Qualifying for the Ironman Triathlon event eliminates many of the world's top contenders. Of the 3,000 people entering the Ironman Lottery each year, only 150 iron man spots go to United States citizens, and 50 go to international applicants.

Ironman Competitions

Comprised of swimming, biking, and running events, the Ironman Triathlon requires huge amounts of stamina and endurance. This is why Ironman wetsuits become an important component particularly for the swimming event. Too little protection could result in a loss of body heat, energy, and buoyancy. Too much protection might result in a loss of time in removing the wetsuit in the transition between events.

In the Kailua Kona, Hawaii Ironman event competitors must:

  • First complete a 2.4 mile swim across the Kailua Kona Bay

  • Bike 112 miles from Keauhou to Hawi and back again

  • Run 26.2 miles along the coast from Keauhou to Keahole Point and then to Kailua Kona

You win the race in the swim because the energy expended in the swim event can make or break the entire competition. Wetsuits may be the single most important piece of equipment for success in this event.

Wetsuit Composition

The World Triathlon Corporation, owners of the Ironman competition, have established some very important rules about the composition of the Ironman wetsuits.

  • The wetsuit swim apparel must be comprised of 100 percent textile material, such as nylon or lycra, and may not include rubberized material such as polyurethane or neoprene.

  • The swimwear may not cover the neck or extend past the shoulders or knees.

  • Zippers are permitted

  • A race kit or tri-suit is allowed underneath the swimwear

When searching for Ironman wetsuits, it cannot be emphasized enough to question your manufacturer for compliance with the new triathlon regulations. Make certain that the wetsuit you choose is 100% compliant whether you are actually participating in the Ironman Triathlon, training for the Ironman competition, or simply want to put yourself through the rigorous rules and regulations as you develop your speed, stamina, and endurance.

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