Wetsuits were first developed for diving and water-sports, designed to provide warmth in the water. Traditional wetsuits are generally thicker for added insulation with a tougher, more rugged outer to cope with the wear and tear. The thicker neoprene is quite restrictive and difficult to remove but this isn’t as crucial a design feature.Triathlon wetsuits are designed with both of these attributes but also flexibility, hydrodynamic resistance and ease of removal. Their construction is very different to a surfing wetsuit, with a significantly higher number of panels and varying neoprene thickness to ensure maximum flexibility through the shoulders, buoyancy to elevate the body position in the water and thermal protection.
Flexibility can vary significantly between each different suit. It’s important to move through the water as economically as possible rather than fighting against the suit with every arm rotation. Every movement that is competing with resistance unnecessarily saps energy, affects technique and lowers efficiency. All Zone3 wetsuits offer a ‘spring loaded’ shoulder design to generate a more rhythmic swim stroke. This enables faster and more energy efficient swimming.
Check the thickness of the neoprene, there should be a panel of neoprene that is at least 4mm thick, normally in the legs and torso, there are some cheap pretenders on the market with 1-2mm of neoprene all over, while these may offer some warmth in mild waters, they will give you no buoyancy and are not a true triathlon/swim specific wetsuit.
Entry Level vs Top End Wetsuits
• Higher-end wetsuits tend to be thinner, as they are designed with more elite athletes in mind.
• An entry level suit will often provide greater warmth and buoyancy but reduced flexibility.
• Maximum wetsuit thickness for competitive triathlons is 5mm to help reduce the risk of overheating.
• The Vanquish, designed for more elite athletes, features super thin 1.5mm neoprene to five unparalleled flexibility through the shoulders, arms, chest and back.
• Our entry-level Advance suit uses 2mm neoprene with a 3mm chest and back panel. Thicker 5mm neoprene on the torso, hips and legs help with buoyancy and position in the water.
Wetsuit Sizing – Comfort Fit vs Performance Fit
When choosing a triathlon wetsuit, the most important factor to consider is fit. If the fit is not right, you are not going to be comfortable and the wetsuit will not be able to perform properly for you. Ultimately, the correct fit depends on your preferences.Check the sizing charts to determine which wetsuit size you would be. When referring to the sizing chart, there will be people who fit more than one size category. Here are a few things to consider to help you decide on size…
• A person’s weight is more critical than their height. Always look at the weight as the primary component when checking a size chart.
• Athletes who have never worn a wetsuit before tend to prefer comfort fit, so start with the bigger size.
• If you have experience using wetsuit and are looking for a performance fit, try the smaller size.
• All swimming wetsuits are designed to be tight fitting.
• The most important thing when determining whether the size is right for you is first making sure you have put the suit on correctly. The correct fitting wetsuit might feel much too tight/loose/big/small if it’s not being worn in the correct position. See below for information of how to put on a wetsuit.
• You don’t need to bend over to touch your toes or do a squat in your wetsuit. The important thing is that you should be able to go through the motion of swimming relatively easily on land.
• Remember that once wet, the suit will fit better. The suit will also mould to your shape the more you wear it.
• Wetsuits can take some time to get used to because the neckline needs to be higher than any other garments. Water entry is kept to a minimum as a result of this high neckline.
Putting On Your Wetsuit
Open up the zip and grab the suit from the inside of the crotch and turn the upper body inside out (you should leave the arms right-way out).
Remember the zip goes on the back. Put on gloves! We provide gloves for you to wear with each wetsuit purchase. The gloves are to help protect against rips or tears from fingernails when putting on the suit.
1. Start by pulling the legs over your feet while holding on to the inside of the suit and move the legs up your body as much as possible.
* Tip – keep your socks on or put carrier bags over your feet to help them slide into the leg of the suit easier*
2. Once the suit is on over your hips, you may need to adjust the suit further. Being careful not to damage the neoprene with your fingernails.
Start down low and work the material up the legs until the lower leg seam is across your knee cap and the suit is snug in the crotch.
3. Take your time with this and do not put your wetsuit on too quickly as it may result in tearing.
4. Once the suit is fitted correctly in the lower body you then can pull it up over your shoulders and arms.
5. Once you have got the suit completely on, have someone help you with the zip. If you are uncomfortable with this you can do up the zip yourself with the pull cord.
6. When doing up the zip make sure the inner flap along the zipper is not bunching up or folded over.
More Tips to Check Sizing
1. Check to see that the suit pulls into your lower back and there is not a big gap. If there is, try bringing the suit higher up on the crotch and bringing the neckline higher. If there is to much excess fabric in any particular area, the suit may be too big and let water in.
2. Extend your arms from your sides, parallel to the ground. The wetsuit should be close to your armpits and there should also be some small folds on the top of the shoulder. If this isn’t the case, you may need to move the arms of the suit towards your shoulders. You can do this by extending one arm over your head and carefully sliding the arm of the suit towards your shoulder.
3. Extend your arms in front of your chest, crossed at the wrists. There should be a minimum of gaping at the neck or billowing in the chest. It is expected that a small amount of space or folds will be in the wetsuit.
4. If you feel that the neck is uncomfortable; try putting the suit up in the back of the legs, bum and especially through the zip. Grab the base of the zip and work any excess material towards the shoulders.
Caring for your Wetsuit
Wetsuits are made from very delicate neoprene, here are some pointers on caring for it to help it last longer:
• Avoid using your fingernails when putting on your wetsuit! Nails can cut the neoprene very easily and leave small crescent moon shaped cuts, these have the potential to pull into bigger holes. Use the gloves we provide with your wetsuit purchase to help prevent this from happening.
• Avoid tugging on the zip with the cord, the weak part of the wetsuit is at the bottom of the zip at the base of the spine, it can easily rip here, ask someone to zip up the suit for you.
• After swimming, rinse off the wetsuit in clean fresh water, leave inside out to dry, once that side is dry turn the right way out to dry any excess water off the outside.
• Store out of direct sunlight, this can degrade the neoprene if left in the sun for extended periods.
• Don’t leave on a hanger for extended periods of time as this may stretch the neoprene in the shoulders, loosely fold to store.
Check out our award-winning wetsuit range and pick the suit that's right for you at www.zone3.us