Choosing the right fit
It is important to consider the fit when buying a wetsuit.
An open water/triathlon-specific wetsuit is designed to improve the swimmer’s body position in the water and allow for efficient movement while swimming.
This is achieved by combining buoyant and flexible neoprene panels into a comfortable, form-fitting suit.
Functions of a wetsuit are:
- to provide additional floatation
- to reduce drag through the water
- to offer a degree of comfort from colder water
Sizing for Comfort Fit or Performance Fit
When referring to the sizing chart to determine what size you need, there will be people who fit more than one category or size. Here are some guideline for choosing what size will be best:
- A person’s weight is more critical than their height
- Swimmers who have never worn a wetsuit before tend to prefer a comfort fit so start with the bigger size
- If you have experience wearing wetsuits and you’re looking for a performance fit, try the smaller size.
Putting your wetsuit on
Open up the zipper 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 zipper goes in the back.
- 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. Depending on how long your legs are you will show 1-15cm of skin above your ankle.
- 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 kneecap and the suit is snug in the crotch.
- Take your time with this and do not put your wetsuit on too quickly resulting in any tears.
- Once the suit is fit correctly in the lower body you then can pull it up over your shoulders and arms.
- Once you have got the suit completely on, have someone help you with the zipper. If you are uncomfortable with this you can do up the zipper yourself with the pull cord.
- When doing up the zipper make sure the inner flap along the zipper is not bunching up or folded over.
Determining a good fit
As mentioned above, many people will fit two sizes acceptably. This is what we call the Comfort fit and Performance fit.
Make sure you are comfortable in the suit. Remember that you don’t need to bend over, but you should be able to go through the motion of swimming easily.
It will be harder for you to see when a suit is too small, so rely on your comfort as a guide.
It is important that you can tell when the suit is too big. Any excess space in the suit will fill with water and make swimming more difficult.
Here are a few more tips:
- Check to see if the lower leg seams are across your kneecaps and that there is no bunching behind your knees.
- Check to see that the suit pulls into your lower back and when pulled away has some suction. If not the suit likely needs to be pulled up higher in the back of the legs and bottom.
- With your arms extended from your sides (parallel to the ground) the material should be close to your armpits. In this position, there should also be some small bumps or folds on the top of the shoulder. If either of these things is not the case you may need to move the arms of the suit towards your shoulders. To do this, extend one arm over your head and carefully slide the arm of the suit towards your shoulder. The stretch gusset shouldn’t be stretched until your arms are extended overhead.
- With your arms extended in front of your chest and crossed at the wrists there should be a minimum of gaping at the neck or billowing in the chest. A small amount of space or folds is expected.
- If you feel that the neck is uncomfortable try pulling the suit up in the back of the legs, butt and especially through the zipper. Grab the base of the zipper and work any excess material towards their shoulders. This will relax the fit in the front of the collar. Swimming in a wetsuit can take some time to get used to because the neck needs to be high than any other garments to ensure water entry is kept to a minimum.
Remember that the suit will only fit better once it is wet and will also mould to your shape the more you wear it.