Sleeveless Wetsuit vs Full Wetsuit debate
As more of an open water swimmer than a triathlete, I’m used to racing without a wetsuit. However, when I finally purchased a racing wetsuit for a triathlon, I went for the sleeveless or “farmer john” suit, because I thought it would give me more flexibility with my arms.
What I didn’t realize was that the sleeveless suit left me with some disadvantages. Here’s why I recommend going with sleeves if you are looking to buy a wetsuit:
1. Sleeveless wetsuits do not keep you very warm. If you are training or racing in water below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, it is important to consider how warm you will be. You do not want to have your body burning up energy just to keep your core temperature up! Swimming is hard enough as it is. I learned my lesson doing the Alcatraz swim in the San Francisco Bay. Water was about 52 degrees and I used my farmer john suit. By the time I finished, I was nearing frostbite and forgot who I was! A lot of heat apparently escapes through the armpits.
2. Sleeves are faster. You will get more buoyancy and be able to cruise on top of the water a little easier if you have sleeves on your suit. You need to use every advantage you can get, and your competitors will mostly have sleeves, so there’s no reason to handicap yourself!
The flexibility is not much of an issue. Once you practice with your full wetsuit you will get used to the feel, and you will not likely want to go back to sleeveless or anything else.