The Ultimate Wetsuit Guide
How do I choose which wetsuit to buy? And then how do I care for my wetsuit to make sure it will last for a long time?
I was fortunate enough to get a new wetsuit this year from sponsor blueseventy that I loooooove—but it made me really want to know, how I can I care for this beautiful suit so that it lasts a long time? I mean, I know to keep it out of chlorine, but what else?
So I went straight to the source! John Duquette is the owner of blueseventy and has been racing triathlons since 1999. He was gracious about answering my questions—and agreed to let me share our chat with the Tri Sirena community, too, as I can’t be the only one who’s so flummoxed! So here we go:
Q: Sleeves or no sleeves?
Sleeved suits are always faster due to increased buoyancy and the continuation of rubber underneath the armpit. You can also go in colder water, so we always recommend a full suit. Some people, however, especially swimmers who take more strokes, find they're more comfortable in a sleeveless suit.
Q: There’s quite a price range, from $200 to almost $1,000. Are more expensive wetsuits really faster?
There are two different improvements as you go up in price:
The first is the materials. The more you pay, the better the rubber will flex, the more buoyant the suit will be, and the more flexible the lining will be.
Second is the construction. The paneling will be more intricate to create flexibility and improve fit.
Q: What should I do after I swim to help my wetsuit last longer?
Rinse in fresh water and hang out of direct sunlight to dry, simple as that!
Q: Is it ok to let my suit dry in the sun?
Sun is very damaging. It will dry out the rubber and I've actually seen a situation before where a folded suit literally melted on each side and then dried and was stuck together.
Q: Hang or fold for long-term storage? Right-side out or inside-out?
I always advocate storing the suit inside out to protect the soft outer rubber: The inside lining is nearly indestructible. For long-term storage, folding it and storing it flat is fine. You can also hang it from a hanger, but if you do, fold the legs over the shoulders so there is less weight pulling on the suit.
Q: What if my wetsuit tears?
Any neoprene cement will do. It's an easy one-minute fix and the cement starts at $8 per jar, which is about a lifetime supply.
Q: If my wetsuit is too long, can I cut the sleeves or legs?
You can cut the legs if necessary, just make sure the seam is taped on the inside. On blueseventy suits, there is a strip of tape that runs six inches up the inside of the leg to cover the seam and keep it from unraveling; no one should cut above it. Wrists shouldn't ever have to be cut. If there is excess material in the sleeve, the extra rubber should just be pulled up to the shoulder. There is no standard length in the arms or the legs. Tall people will have the suit go down to mid shin, shorter people to the ankle etc.
One final thought…you may not need a wetsuit! So know the expected temperature range for where you’re swimming and know which rules apply:
• Per USAT, age group athletes may wear wetsuits when the water is up to and including 78 degrees Fahrenheit. (Some races will allow wetsuits for 79-84 degrees, but athletes would forfeit any award).
• Ironman rules, however, are more strict: Age group athletes may only wear wetsuits when the water is up to and including 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the water’s too warm for a wetsuit, swim in your race kit or look to buy a skin suit to go over your kit and remove in T1. Skin suits run about $200-$300 and provide more compression and a slicker surface than a tri racing kit, but either is perfectly fine.
I think that’s it! Please comment below if you have a question for me or for John and we’ll try to get answers back to you soonest.
Happy swimming, Sirens!
Written by Kyra Wiens
Follow Kyra on Instagram! @kyrawiens
If you like this post, check out Professional Techniques to Nail Your Swim