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Sable Goggles: Superior Water Optics. triathlon Wetsuits On Sale Now

What about a shirt or top?

Many people have running shirts. No, not that old cotton T-shirt that rubs your nipples raw and red. We're talking about a decent microfiber top, perhaps one you got for 30 percent off at some marathon expo. Some people wear these in an event. It's loose, goes on with relative ease even when wet and works for both cycling and running. But it's not a tri top.

Triathlon tops generally are sleeveless and have pockets in the back or on the side. Most have a zipper in the front, but some do not. Some offer more vest-like coverage on the shoulders while others are more like a traditional tank top. All are made from technical fabrics that help keep you cool, dry and comfortable.

Tri tops can be either loose or snug, with a snug fitting top being better for the swim portion of triathlon.

For women, many tri tops offer a built-in shelf bra while others without support can be worn over a sports bra. Some women find it necessary to double up, wearing a sports bra and a tri top with built-in support. That is up to you.

So, do I wear a top in the swim?

Yes and no. For girls and women, the answer here is generally going to be "YES". If you are using a wetsuit, wearing tri shorts and a tri top can decrease transition times because you will not have to change or try to put on clothes while you are wet. In triathlons that involve pool swims, tops for guys can be optional. Not wearing a top in a pool swim means you'll have to put one on before heading out on the bike. Doing so when wet can be challenging.

How should they fit?

Tri shorts should be snug - essentially fitting like underwear (not boxer shorts). They can and should be worn in the swim, under a wetsuit if you are using one. They transition well to the bike, drying out after only a couple of minutes of riding.

Wearing a top during the swim generally means more drag, but comes the added benefit of a quicker transition. Remember, we're talking about a few seconds here, which may or may not make much difference to you.

Handy tip: In pool swims or non-wetsuit events, fold the bottom of the shirt inside itself so it looks like a half-shirt. This can hide the pockets, thus reducing drag in the water.

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