What to look for in an open water swimming wetsuit

Are you thinking about purchasing a wetsuit for open water swimming, or ocean swimming?

As an ocean swimming instructor I spend a lot of time in the water… a lot!

Sometimes the water is warm, other times it’s freezing (see Coriolis effect: when the water gets cold in the summer), but one thing remains true, just being in the water for a long time can quickly drop your core temperature.

So, whether I’m coaching, or ocean swimming, if I’m wearing a wetsuit I want to be wearing one that’s comfortable, flexible and that will give me an edge.

How to choose a wetsuit for ocean swimming

If you’re anything like me, the thought of running into a chilly ocean to swim in just your cozzies is about as entertaining as running naked down a ski slope in a blizzard.

At this time of the year the water temperature never quite matches the warm sunny weather we experience so it can come as a bit of a shock when you hit the beach for a leisurely swim.

I’ve had a lot of enquires lately from swimmers looking for advice on buying the right wetsuit, so I thought I’d share my hot tips with everyone (+ offer you an amazing discount on your next wetsuit purchase – see below!).

Open water swimming wetsuits

A black T1 wetsuit top on a mannequin Open water swimming wetsuits: Swim fast, stay warm

The biggest mistake swimmers make with wetsuits is to buy a wetsuit designed for surfers.

Keep away from the surfing brands and purchase a proper open water swimming wetsuit or triathlon wetsuit.

Surfing wetsuits are designed to be a little looser and for sitting up out of the water, swimming wetsuits are designed to be a bit tighter and move through the water fast.

Wearing just a wetsuit top is a great way to keep your upper body warm but still keep the lower body free. The increased buoyancy also helps make swimming easier.

OceanFit Favourite: Andre wears a T1 Wetsuit Top when he’s teaching, or when it’s really cold. If he’s staying in the water for extended periods of time he wears a Blueseventy full wetsuit.

A swimming vest can help make sure you’re seen

Some ocean swim events may require the wearing of a lycra swimming vest for safety or sponsorship purposes.

Wearing a swim vest for the first time may feel restrictive, and you might feel a little more resistance when you swim.

Choosing and fitting a swimming vest

When choosing a vest size always ask for a size or two smaller than you would usually wear so it fits nice a snug.

If you still need to tighten it try gathering the loose material together and tying a knot in the back.

Swimming caps are practical, safe and warm

OceanFit's yellow silicone swimming cap.Not just for the girls to keep their hair out of their face, swimming caps are great for personal and event water safety and keeping your head warm in cooler water temps.

Latex swimming caps are thinner and cheaper, silicone swimming caps are thicker, longer lasting and warmer.

To keep your head extra warm in cold water wear two silicone swimming caps at the same time.

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