You are looking for a new wetsuit? After all is said and done, you want to buy the best fitting wetsuit that you can find. Why? Because, fit is everything in a triathlon wetsuit. The best fitting wetsuit for beginners and everyone else is going to be the most comfortable, the warmest, the fastest, and perform the best for you.
Full-Sleeve or Sleeveless?
If you take the time to find the best fitting wetsuit, you will always be better off with the full sleeve suit. Full sleeve suits are faster, warmer and actually fit better than sleeveless wetsuits (read on).
I would be lying if I said that a sleeveless suit did not free up the arms and make for more freedom for the arms. However, by solving one problem, you create a bunch of others. Many people don't get a good seal at the arm holes and they get a lot of water leakage and then they are carrying around an extra 5 - 10 lbs of water with them on the swim. Also, I have seen more serious cases of neck rashing on sleeveless suits than on full sleeve suits. A full sleeve suit anchors the neck down and it will tend to move with your body. On a sleeveless suit, the neck now moves independently creating more friction and the potential for more neck rash issues.
Take the time and find a great fitting full sleeve suit.
3 Keys To Great Fit
1. All brands fit a bit differently. Find the brand that fits you best. For example. Nineteen is cut a bit longer in the torso, fuller through the torso and wider through the shoulders. Also, our ElleSystem for women is a true anatomically correct women's fit that has been well thought out and designed specifically for the woman triathlete.
2. Find the right size. A wetsuit is an intimate fitting garment. It needs to fit you like a second skin. Tight is good - so tight that it's restricting, is not so good. This is where shopping for a new wetsuit at a reputable triathlon store, with the help of a good sales-person who really knows wetsuits is very helpful. Many triathletes, left up to their own devices on this front, often buy a wetsuit one size too big. A good sales-person who knows wetsuits can give you the confidence to get the right size, that it will work for you in the water. A word about size charts: We try to make the Nineteen fit chart as accurate as we can. It's very weight-centric. That means, that if you fall in a weight range, and you are not crazy tall or short - that's your size.
3. Get the wetsuit fitted to you properly. This is a three stage process that you must go through when trying a new wetsuit on for fit, and every time you swim in the suit. Many triathletes skip right over this, and then complain that there wetsuit does not fit them - but they have not fit the wetsuit to themselves:
A) Hike the wetsuit up as high as you can at your waist - uncomfortably so. Like you are giving yourself a wedgie!!
B) Put each arm on and start working the rubber up the arms (one arm at a time). Do not do the zipper up yet. Keep working the rubber up the arms. If the rubber starts to move up and away from your wrist that is OK. You want to have the rubber worked up the arms so that you can grab a small fist of rubber in your hand between the point of your shoulder and your neck. It's OK if for now, the rubber is a bit lumpy along the line of your shoulder. That will go away. Now get the zipper done up. It's OK if you need help with this.
C) Stand up tall with the zipper done up and then do a formal Japanese bow - keeping your upper body straight, bend at the waist. Once bent over look back at your groin area and you will see rolls of rubber. Grab the top roll and then as you slowly start to stand up straight, work that role of rubber hand over hand, up over your stomach and chest to your collar bone. Repeat this several times until the rolls in the groin area are almost gone.
If you are in the right brand, the right size and you have properly fitted the wetsuit to you, you should now be able to swim, and it feel like you are swimming without a wetsuit, only warmer and faster!
A word about wetsuit rubber: Many of the mid and high-end wetsuits are made with a higher grade of smooth-skin rubber. Many of us in the business use Yamamoto 39 rubber. This is a wonderful material that is light, very buoyant and flexible, and often has a surface treatment that makes you as hydrodynamic in the water as a shark! The down-side to this amazing material is that it's very delicate. It is particularly susceptible to finger-nail cuts and other abrasions. You need to always be very careful when trying on, and putting on wetsuits made from this kind of rubber.
I hope this helps you find the best fitting triathlon wetsuit, because remember - it's all about fit!
Author: Steve Fleck
Steve Fleck is the Sales Manager for Nineteen Wetsuits. He did his first triathlon in 1981 using a borrowed rusty 10-speed bike, that only had five working gears! And back then, there were no wetsuits!