The benefits of a Wetsuit – Part 1 [updated]

This post was originally published in 2011. It’s been updated to reflect Nineteen’s current wetsuits. 

Getting ready for the upcoming triathlon season and need a wetsuit?  Foot Tools carries wetsuits by Nineteen, for rent and for purchase.  For those who have never worn a wetsuit before and are not sure about how to wear one and what they can do for you, give us a call at (905) 637-1888 to book an appointment.  We will answer all your questions, find the right fit, and will show you how to put your suit on properly.  If you already know your fit and would like to buy one, come by the store or contact Paula at [email protected] to purchase online or over the phone. We carry Pipeline, Frequency and Rogue in both Men’s and Women’s, XS-XL.

In the meantime, we did some research to help you during your wetsuit time of need – take a look at what Nineteen has to say about choosing the right wetsuit, size and fit:

The most important factor when buying a wetsuit is fit. If the suit doesn’t fit you properly, it will not perform well. A 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. The neoprene rubber Nineteen uses is constructed with a smoothskin, hydrodynamic outer surface bonded to a flexible inner fabric. See the spec sheet for each model to learn about the features and benefits of the different neoprenes Nineteen uses.

Functions of a wetsuit are:

  • to provide additional floatation
  • to reduce drag through the water
  • to offer a degree of comfort from colder water

Choosing a Wetsuit

[1] Full sleeve or sleeveless wetsuit

Several factors should be considered in helping you determine what style to choose:

  • Comfort : a full sleeve suit will keep you warmer in colder water swims (key if you have early season races)
  • Floatation : a full sleeve suit offers slightly better floatation
  • Race distance : generally long course racers will want a full sleeve suit
  • Upper body : customers with bulkier or broader upper bodies sometimes find full sleeve suits too restrictive

With Nineteen’s Stretch Panel Technology, the vast majority of swimmers are better off in a full sleeve suit. Most customers who choose a sleeveless suit do so due to cost.

[2] Wetsuit Sizing chart and a Comfort Fit as opposed to a 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. Don’t be afraid to try on both sizes, but here are some guidelines for choosing what size will be best:

  • A person’s weight is more critical than their height
  • Athletes who have never worn a wetsuit before tend to prefer a Comfort fit so start with the bigger size
  • If you have experience using wetsuits and are looking for a Performance fit, try the smaller size
  • If you are buying a sleeveless suit, you should move down to the smaller size for a better seal at the arm holes.

[3] Putting the 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. Many first time wetsuit buyers will be unaware of this.
  • 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 1-10cm 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 knee cap and the suit is snug in the crotch.
  • 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.

[4] Determining a good fit

As discussed earlier, many people will fit two sizes acceptably. This is what we call the Comfort fit and Performance fit. You should discuss this with your sales person to determine which is best for you. 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. 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 butt.
  • With your arms extended from your sides (parallel to the ground) the StretchSilk or HydroGlide gusset should come right into your armpits. In this position there should also be some small bumps or folds on the top of the shoulder. If either of these thing 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 not be any 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 though 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.

Remember that the suit will only fit better once it is wet. With the correct fit and proper care you will get years of use out of a Nineteen wetsuit.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.