After fitting countless people in triathlon wetsuits, we here at Triple Sports have learned a few things. And as is common around here, we like to pass that information along to you. This information and more, of course, is included with every online wetsuit order. If you're lucky enough to be in our town, we can help size and fit you in real life. We have done just that for hundreds of your contemporaries. In any event, read on.
When selecting a size, follow the manufacturer's guidelines using the charts provided (located near the bottom of each wetsuit product page). Each manufacturer has different guidelines. All sizes, therefore, might not be equal. Weight should be used as the primary factor in selecting a size for all brands. For example, if your weight makes you a medium but your height makes you a small, choose the medium. If you have any questions or doubts, we'd be happy to help walk you through sizing.
Wetsuits need to fit tight, very tight. If they do not, a great deal of water will pool in ill-fitting areas of the suit. You will be dragging around pockets filled with water, which will slow you down and sap your energy. We do not know of any triathlete or swimmer who wants to lose more energy in an event or in training by using a wetsuit. All you guys want speed and buoyancy, which a triathlon wetsuit provides.
So, how tight is tight? Very. Remember? Your wetsuit should be tight in the crotch. Tight like those Saturday Night Fever disco pants or the ones your old Uncle Leo wears. Remember the white belt? We do. But we digress. Putting on a wetsuit for the first time can be a bit disconcerting. You might be thinking: "Am I really supposed to swim in this thing?" Well, yeah. And you will be happy you did. So tight tight is tight? Yep, very. Now you're getting it.
There, of course, is a learning curve when it comes to wearing a wetsuit. With practice getting into one comes greater comfort. For many of us, getting used to the tight fit takes time. But how tight is too tight? Okay, if you put on the wetsuit and the little vein in your forehead or the ones in your neck (like the ones that popped out of Dad when we kids did something real bad) break the skin and your face turns three shades of red, the wetsuit could be too tight. For women in particular, the neck can seem very tight. This is normal and acceptable. Well, except for that whole vein popping thing.
Check out these tips and view a video from Orca:
1. Use Bodyglide or a similar natural lubricant. Put it on your neck, ankles, wrists - anywhere the wetsuit might get hung up.
2. Wear socks or put a plastic grocery bag over your feet to aid in pushing the foot through the leg. Additionally, angle your foot downward while sliding it through the leg. Work from the bottom up, pulling up on the suit from inside. The material is more durable. It's also easier to work the suit up incrementally from the bottom rather than trying to pull it up after it's almost entirely on.
3. Pay particular attention to the fit in the crotch while pulling up the suit over your hips. The suit should fit very tight in the crotch. That allows the material to be pulled up and fit properly on your shoulders and upper torso. To do this, pull up on the inside of the suit after you've got it up around your waste. It's similar to putting on pantyhose. Just watch those fingernails. They're murder on the SCS coating.
4. Once in the suit with it zipped up, you can lean forward, pulling up on the folded material that bunches around your stomach. "Walk" that material up your chest using your thumb and forefinger. This will shift the material in place, making for a more comfortable fit.
5. For additional fit in the shoulder, you or a friend can slowly pinch and move the material on the arm up and back on the shoulder. The end result will force your shoulders back and offer a more comfortable fit and feel. This should feel like you're sitting up properly, just like your Mom always told you to do.
6. Take your time. While you'll want to take off the suit as fast as you can in transition, the more time you spend putting it on the better the fit.
7. Test out your wetsuit at least once before your event. On raceday, surrounded by dozens or even a few hundred others, panic can set in. Remember, it is all mental. The wetsuit is your friend and will give you buoyancy. If you feel panic coming on, get to the side of the field and float on your back. Seriously, these things are like being atop an air mattress or a couple of those water noodle thingies. In the end, the more familiar you are with the wetsuit and how it works, the more comfortable you will be when you climb into the water on raceday.
This all might make more sense to the eyes. Check out this video by Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack. Brought to you by Orca Wetsuits.