Zone3 Beginner’s Guide to Swimming in a Wetsuit
If you have never tried on or swum in a triathlon wetsuit before, there are a few things you need to consider – from fit, to actually getting the thing on. Luckily Zone3 are on hand to help and guide you!
Choosing the right fit
It is important to consider the fit when buying a wetsuit to try to select the correct size for you. A triathlon-specific wetsuit is designed to improve the swimmer’s body position in the water. They allow for efficient movement while swimming. This is achieved by combining buoyant and flexible neoprene panels into a comfortable, form-fitting suit. Read more about the differences in triathlon-specific wetsuits here.
Functions of a wetsuit are to:
- provide additional floatation/buoyancy
- reduce drag through the water
- offer a degree of comfort from colder water
There are many different wetsuit brands on the market and they all fit slightly differently. Fit has always been top priority for us and we have gained many accolades over the last seven years because of our fit. We achieve this through a unique panel design and the most advanced materials available.
From research conducted, 80% of customers will buy a Zone3 a wetsuit having tried on an average of 2-3 other wetsuits previously. The customers decision was made purely based on the fit, and feel of the suit. It’s important that you do your own research; don’t get persuaded by price or if an elite athlete wears a certain brand. Fit is much more important than features, price, branding or colour.
Wetsuit Sizing chart and Comfort Fit vs Performance Fit
When referring to the sizing chart to determine what size you need, there will be people who fit more than one category or size. Here are a few things to consider to help you choose what size will be best:
A person’s weight is more critical than their height. Athletes who have never worn a wetsuit before tend to prefer Comfort fit so start with the bigger size. If you have experience using wetsuits and are looking for a Performance fit, try the smaller size.
View the Zone3 sizing charts here.
Putting your wetsuit on
Open up the zip and grab the suit from the inside of the crotch and turn the upper body inside out (you should leave the arms right-way out).
Remember the zip goes on the back.
- Start by pulling the legs over your feet while holding on to the inside of the suit and move the legs up your body as much as possible. Depending on how long your legs are you will show 1-15cm of skin above your ankle.
* Tip – keep your socks on or put carrier bags over your feet to help them slide into the leg of the suit easier.
- Once the suit is on over your hips, you may need to adjust the suit further. Being careful not to damage the neoprene with your fingernails, start down low and work the material up the legs until the lower leg seam is across your knee cap and the suit is snug in the crotch.
- Take your time with this and do not put your wetsuit on too quickly as it may result in tearing.
- Once the suit is fitted correctly in the lower body you then can pull it up over your shoulders and arms.
- Once you have got the suit completely on, have someone help you with the zip. If you are uncomfortable with this you can do up the zip yourself with the pull cord.
- When doing up the zip make sure the inner flap along the zipper is not bunching up or folded over.
How do I know whether it’s a good fit?
As mentioned earlier, many people will fit two sizes acceptably. This is what we call the Comfort fit and Performance fit. The Zone3 entry-level wetsuits have a slightly more straight cut around the torso. We designed our entry-level suits to give the triathlete comfort first and then performance second:
Whereas the Aspire and Vanquish wetsuits have a slightly sleeker cut designed to be compressive around the legs and torso but still maintaining total freedom of movements around the shoulders and arms:
All swimming wetsuits are designed to be tight fitting, and like a second skin.
The most important thing when determining whether the size is right for you is first making sure you have put the suit on correctly. The correct fitting wetsuit might feel much too tight/loose/big/small if it’s not being worn in the correct position so please follow the videos above.
You don’t need to bend over to touch your toes or do a squat in your wetsuit. The important thing is that you should be able to go through the motion of swimming relatively easily on land.
Remember that once wet, the suit will fit better. The suit will also mould to your shape the more you wear it. You can view this link to see how the triathlon industry experts have rated Zone3 products over the last few years: click here.
Some more tips to check the fit
- Check to see that the suit pulls into your lower back and there is not a big gap. If there is, try bringing the suit higher up on the crotch and bringing the neckline higher. If there is too much excess fabric in any particular area this could mean that the suit is too big. This may let water in.
- Extend your arms from your sides, parallel to the ground. The wetsuit material should be close to your armpits and there should also be some small bumps or folds on the top of the shoulder. If either of these thing is not the case, you may need to move the arms of the suit towards your shoulders. To do this, extend one arm over your head and carefully slide the arm of the suit towards your shoulder.
- Extend your arms in front of your chest, crossed at the wrists. There should be a minimum of gaping at the neck or billowing in the chest. It is expected that a small amount of space or folds will be in the wetsuit.
- If you feel that the neck is uncomfortable: try pulling the suit up in the back of the legs, butt and especially though the zip. Grab the base of the zip, and work any excess material towards the shoulders. This will relax the fit in the front of the collar. Wetsuits can take some time to get used to because the neckline needs to be higher than any other garments. Water entry is kept to a minimum as a result of this high neckline.
- Finally, after you have finished your swim rinse it out with fresh clean water. Then, hang the wetsuit to dry away from direct sunlight. When you take your wetsuit off during training, try to do it as if you were in a race to practice how you will in the race.