Every year around this time, we at TSC receive a deluge of questions about wetsuits, so I want to spend this week tackling the most common ones:
Q: Do I have to buy a wetsuit:
A: Ultimately no. For short races like sprint triathlons that happen in pools or typically warm water races like Eagleman and Kona, wetsuits are not only not needed but also sometimes banned because of temperature limits. However, as the distance of a race increases the more and more wetsuits help you out with body position and efficiency thus saving you time and energy. They also help keep you warm and therefore relaxed, which can be a huge help at races like Lake Tahoe.
However, even then you do not need to buy one. There are a few places where you can rent them for a week or two at a reasonable rate. Bonzai Sports (www.tribonzai.com) allows you to rent for $35 a week. I used to work there (no longer do and they do not endorse me, so I am not trying to sell you anything at all right now), so I know first hand that there process is quick, easy, and cheap. There are other websites out there as well.
At some point if your are a frequent racer, you may want to invest in one, but for your first race, renting is an excellent option.
Q: Do I really need to spend $600+ on a suit or will one for $100 be ok?
A: Wetsuits are the few pieces of tri equipment where you get what you pay for. High end suits are more flexible, comfortable, durable, and faster. It is worth spending the extra cash, but if you are pinching pennies, then a cheap suit will get you through the race.
Q: Which is the best brand?
A: Hard to stay because it depend on your body type and build. DIfferent brands attract different builds typically. I love BlueSeventy (once again they are in no way a sponsor of TSC), but other brands like Xterra, TYR, and 2XU are good.
Q: Full Sleeve or Sleeveless:
A:Once again it depends on several factors including temperature of the water, distance, and experience swimming. Here are my general rules:
a. If the water is above 73 you may want to go sleeveless unless you have more “natural” insulation than the average person.
b. If you have lots of experience swimming and therefore find sleeves confining, then ditch the sleeves.
c. If you are swimming really long distances such as a cold-water Ironman, 5k and above open water, or a channel crossing, then a full wetsuit. will do you fine.
Q: Can’t I just use a surfing suit?
A. NO. ABSOLUTELY NO!
Q: What do I wear under it?
A: What you want to bike in so tri shorts/top or a tri kit. The reason why you want to include the top is because it is near impossible to but on a spandex tri top when soaking and slightly delirious.
Finally, remember that the zipper goes in the back.
If you personally have questions, feel free to send us an email with them. We always love hearing from you all.
Coach Chris and Kev