WHY wear a WETSUIT in Triathlon?

by: Jordan Bryden

The adoption of wetsuits in triathlon swimming started back in the 1980's when athletes started looking for opportunities to swim in waters that were colder than that of the Hawaiian Ocean. The advantages of donning a wetsuit span from enhancing swimming efficiency to aiding in body heat retention. 

Many studies reveal significant improvements in swimming performance attributable to wetsuit usage! Investigations on seasoned triathletes show that wetsuits diminish drag, boost propelling capabilities, and reduce fatigue, all without altering motor coordination, when compared to standard swimsuits at equivalent speeds. Bouyancy is of course a key component when it comes to these imporvements, but it is not the only contributing factor. An extensive study involving 26 varied studies comparing wetsuit and swimsuit usage across different conditions underscored the performance-boosting potential of wetsuits, noting that the extent of improvement varies with the race distance.

The primary motive for wetsuit usage among triathletes is temperature control, particularly in open-water scenarios. Wetsuits serve as a thermal insulator, sustaining body warmth in cooler waters, thereby averting hypothermia and enabling athletes to maintain optimal performance even under challenging weather conditions.

Research into the impact of wetsuit wear on resting cardiovascular metrics show that overly snug wetsuits can affect resting blood pressure in healthy individuals. While these findings are noteworthy, they underscore the necessity for further research to comprehensively understand how wetsuits influence heart health indicators when athletes are exerting themselves to their limits!

The correct fit of a wetsuit is imperative; a too-tight suit may lead to heightened blood pressure, lack of mobility and often a feeling of constriction or claustrophobia. Athletes should weigh this factor when choosing a wetsuit. Selecting the appropriate wetsuit size is not just about fit—it also encompasses comfort and performance considerations.

The scientific support for wearing a wetsuit in triathlons is solid, showing massive benefits in terms of swimming performance, temperature management, and overall comfort for swimmers who take to the open water! Nevertheless, triathletes should consider consulting an expert when it comes to buying a wetsuit as a experienced wetsuit fitter can help to make sure they are wearing the correct size and model of suit.

For a more detailed exploration into the science of the latest wetsuit advancements in triathlons or to find the ideal wetsuit for your next training session or race consider visiting deboerwetsuits.com or emailing our founder Alex deBoer at info@deboerwetsuits.com to discuss a proper fitting wetsuit.