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The epic and gruelling test that triathlon demands is what attracts many people to the challenge, and the desire to get faster in every aspect of the tri discipline race keeps people coming back for more. If you are new to the triathlon race scene, and want to take part in an open water event, then it is recommended to invest some time into choosing the right wetsuit for you.

Although sometimes neglected, the need for a well fitted triathlon specific wetsuit is vital and should be viewed with the same importance as the bike and your running shoes. As well as keeping you safe in the open water, the correct wetsuit can improve your performance, make you more efficient and aid your flexibility in the water. As a triathlon beginner, it might be tempting to opt for a surfing wetsuit that you might have kicking around, however the undoubted benefits that an athlete gets from a tri-specific wetsuit will give you the best possible start in your triathlon obsession.


Core Aspects to Look For in a Triathlon Wetsuit


A vital element for both safety and performance of an athlete is the buoyancy that a triathlon specific wetsuit gives you. This extra buoyancy that is provided will bring you to the surface and therefore lower the drag that you produce in the water. This aspect will put you in a better position for a more effective swim and will also help when in a crowded first section to the swim.


According to the British Triathlon Federation, wetsuits are mandatory in open water events when the water falls under 14°C. This is because wetsuits give the individual effective warming in the open water as the neoprene material construction allows a thin layer of water into the suit which is then warmed by the body. This factor helps maintain a body heat level appropriate for effective and safe swimming.


Speed is important in triathlon, and a tri-specific wetsuit can help an individual carry more speed even if the swim is their weakest of the three disciplines. The reduction of drag due to the material being a slicker surface than your skin combined with the buoyancy aid that the wetsuit will give you creates a faster overall swim therefore reducing time spent in the water. Furthermore, the race position that a tri-specific wetsuit puts your body in will go a long way in producing a faster swim and aids a fast transition when removing it between swim and cycle.

Energy Conservation

All the benefits a tri-specific wetsuit cumulates in one important triathlon factor, energy conservation. The combination of buoyancy, correct racing position, warmth and reduced drag should, in theory, reduce the athlete’s energy consumption. This means the individual can swim at their normal pace with less energy consumption, or swim at a faster pace and use the same energy consumption as they would swimming at normal pace. The result is more conserved energy for the cycling and running stages of the race.


Fit is Vital

When choosing a wetsuit it is important that the fit is correct to your body size. Make sure the wetsuit is comfortable between your crotch and shoulders, fit will around the neck and not restrict your movement – this is to ensure your wetsuit performs effectively. Attention should be paid to the brand sizing and fitting guidelines, this is to match the right size with the individual’s body shape and what they want from the wetsuit. As a general rule, if you are between sizes, going for the larger size would be better for comfort and the smaller size would be better for all out race performance.


Triathlon Specific Wetsuits Come in Three Main Cuts:

Full cut - This cut has a full body covering (expect for hands, feet and head). Although the most buoyant cut of wet suit, it can be the most restrictive as material covers most of the body.


Sleeveless – As the name suggests, this cut of wetsuit is a full cut wetsuit without the arms. This cut can be preferable as it still provides the buoyancy in the leg area, however it frees the shoulders up for optimum movement.


Short Cut – This cut is the most minimal cut of wet suit, having no sleeves and short legs. Most movement can be had out of this cut, however, be aware that it also provides the least buoyancy. Another aspect to consider is that a short cut wetsuit can be the easiest to get out of in the transition between the swim and the bike (T1).

Tech Aspects

Material/Neoprene – A factor to be aware of is that wetsuits will use different grade neoprene, thicknesses and flexibility properties according to their price point and use. A thicker material will be more buoyant but more restrictive when it comes to movement.


Buoyancy – The material of a wetsuit is designed to lift you to the surface – lowering drag and helping you swim more effectively. Some wetsuits will use thicker material on the legs for those who need more lift in that area. It is worth analysing what you need from your wetsuit and deciding accordingly.


Neck Line – The neck line to a wetsuit is also an important element when deciding which one to go for. The neck of the wetsuit should fit well as to not let too much water in and defeat the point of using a wetsuit. However, it is worth noting that if the neckline is too tight then breathing can become difficult.


Zipper – The direction of zipper can also differ from wetsuit to wetsuit, so it is worth taking into account the advantages of either a bottom to top zip or a top to bottom zip and your personal preferences. Going for a wetsuit that seals top to bottom can help prevent the cord being pulled down during the race, plus it can also aid the removal of the wetsuit during the transition from the swim to cycle.


Taped Seams – Modern triathlon wetsuits will mostly come with taped seams meaning cutting down the legs and sleeves to size is made possible.


Catch Panels – many higher end triathlon wetsuits will now be designed with catch panels on the forearm which are intended to increase feel in the water and aid propulsion.



Recommended By Cycle Surgery



The Orca Equip Wetsuit offers the most flexible entry-level open water swimming suit to help you transition from pool swimming to open water as smoothly as possible. A superior lining in the 2mm arms and shoulders allows range of motion and flexibility previously only associated with intermediate level wetsuits, pair this with a full Yamamoto Neoprene front panel for increased buoyancy, and you have the perfect wetsuit for both new and experienced athletes looking for a great suit which won’t break the bank.


The entry level Orca Women's Open Water Full Sleeve wetsuit offers high visibility bright neon arms for added visibility, security and peace of mind for new swimmers out in open water. The 1.5-2.5mm Yamamoto neoprene coverage provides great freedom of movement in the water and a perfect barrier to the cold water, pair this with a highly accessible price and you have the perfect entry point into the world of open water swimming.


The Blueseventy Helix Full Suit Wetsuit is now in its fifth generation and better than ever to deliver the ultimate swimming experience. Blueseventy meticulously sourced materials sourced materials, experimented with panel construction and swam in prototype after prototype to finally achieve their most flexible and comfortable wetsuit yet. Featuring Proprietary TST panels for unparalleled upper body flexibility and thick 5mm Yamomoto Aerodome Rubber for a higher body position in the water combined with quick exit legs, a reverse zipper and body fit panels, the innovative Blueseventy Helix Full Suit is truly in a class of its own.

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