Last summer I decided to upgrade my old surfing wetsuit for a brand new swimming wetsuit. The old one cost me £50 and lasted 3 years but was beginning to be a little stretched and ended up with gallons of water sloshing around inisde! Well thats what it felt like. It was also a surfing wetsuit, not a triathlon wetsuit.

Because I have never surfed, and only use wetsuits for open water swimmer I decided to go for the type of wetsuit which is geared specifically for open water swimming triathletes. The main difference between swimming and surfing wetsuits is the material used on the outer surface which is really smooth and very few joins to reduce the drag of the water as you swim along. Also the thickness of some of the panels is different. For a swimming wetsuit you need to have a lot of flexablility in the shoulders so the material here is thinner to avoid aches when swimming for long distances. Bouyancy is another consideration, different wet suit manufacturers use slightly different materials which alter the amount of “flotation” that the wetsuit gives, usually the thicker the panels, the more floaty it will be and the higher up in the water you’ll be. Remember the higher the better!

Steps to deciding which wetsuit to buy…

  1. Pick a budget. Swimming wetsuit range from £70 all the way up to £500 and perhaps even more for a custom fit model. So its important that you pick a price range, and just look to see whats the best from whats within the budget.
  2. Some wetsuits are only made in certain sizes, and also, if you are buying towards the end of the year, some sizes or colours will be discontinued until the new season’s stock comes out, which is usually more expensive too.
  3. Pick a thickness, usually between 2 and 5mm depending on how warm the water is. If your swimming in warmers waters perhaps you only need a “shorty”, a wetsuit with short sleaves and shorter legs.
  4. Do you need any extra features? Such as a carry bag, or perhaps extra grippy panels on the forearms?
  5. Next step if you have found a selection of wetsuits and you can’t choose between them…shop around and see what the best deals are. I would stick to well known shops they usually have the best customer service.
  6. If at all possible try a wetsuit on to see which size suits best. As usual every manufacturers sizings are slightly different so one size might not be right from another manufacturer.

Leading swimming wetsuit manufactueres are; Aquasphere, Orca, Quintana Roo, 2XU, SailFish and Blue Seventy.

Originally posted 2010-02-10 16:31:02.