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Wetsuit Triathlon

A wetsuit has four primary purposes in a wetsuit triathlon event. Event coordinators differ in their approach to whether a suit is acceptable or not for a particular competition. Regardless of the competitiveness of the event, beginners and poor swimmers should wear one if they intend to swim competitively. Listed below are four important points to keep in mind as you consider entering a triathlon event.

  • Buoyancy - The suit should maintain your body weight high in the water.

  • Energy Conservation - Consider the energy conserving value of the wet suit.

  • Speed - Properly fitted wetsuits will reduce drag and help propel the swimmer at faster rates..

  • Warmth - If your triathlon event is held in colder waters, the warmth factor is essential.

The wetsuit you wear in a wetsuit triathlon, or in the swimming portion of a triathlon, is considerably different than a standard wetsuit you might use for surfing, scuba-diving, windsurfing or other sports. The important issue is how the suit interacts with the water surrounding the athlete.

Designed for warmth and protection a non-competition wetsuit is similar to a heavy, flexible sponge. Water located between this material and the body absorbs heat from the skin's surface and holds that heat close to the skin helping maintain consistent body temperature. While this keeps you warm, if you were to attempt to competitive swim in a wetsuit triathlon in this type of wetsuit, you would never make it, as the weight of the extra water would tend to drag your energy down.

The exterior surface of the wetsuit, triathlon participants wear is coated with materials specially designed to be slick and hydrophobic. This has the effect of repelling water and further reducing friction and drag on the performing athlete.

When purchasing your triathlon wetsuit you should consider fit, temperature ranges, and price.


Finding the perfect fit is the first step. Taking your time in trying to find the best fit will be time well spent. Don't settle for the first wetsuit that seems to fit. You are looking for a fit that is snug, not tight. Avoid extra folds and looseness in the material, as these will create more drag. Full shoulder mobility may be the single most important factor after snug fit, so be sure you have full range of motion. Openings at the arms, legs, and neck should be snug enough that there is no chance of water getting in and acting as a drag.


Water temperature you will be swimming in will likely determine the style of triathlon wetsuit you choose. A good rule of thumb to follow for matching style to temperatures goes as follows;

  • Fullcut - water temperatures of 50 F and above

  • Sleeveless - water temperatures of 75 F and above

  • Shortcut - water temperatures of 75 F and above

  • Bibjohn + Pullover - all water temperature ranges


Pricing a high-quality competition wetsuit triathlon need not be a complicated matter. Quality wetsuit selection is no different than the purchase of any precision piece of equipment. Good fit first, temperature ranges next, and finally, once you narrow down the other factors, pricing considerations. Never sacrifice long-term performance for price


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