I've heard DC tri club members can rent a wetsuit? Where can we do this? How does it work? I'm doing the Columbia triathlon, May 19 and I've never done a race this early in the season. I am worried the water temp will be cold and I'm afraid of cold water! I am also a bit unsure of wearing a wetsuit...thoughts/advice? Thanks!
If a race is wetsuit legal, I would strongly advise wearing a wetsuit. Check the water temp a few days before... as long as the water temp is 78 degrees or below, you can wear a wetsuit (Columbia should be wetsuit legal). Wetsuits make you more bouyant... they keep you on the surface of the water so all of your energy goes toward swimming forward. Wetsuits also have a bigger effect for weaker swimmers or newbies than they do for more experienced swimmers who have a more efficient stroke.
Bonzai Sports in Falls Church, VA is the best place I know of to rent a wetsuit. They have both sleeveless and full-sleeve suits available, and several size options. The cost is $35 for 7 days, and an additional $5 per day after that. If you decide to buy a wetsuit from them later, they will give you a $25 credit towards purchasing a wetsuit from them. Also, at big races, you can return the suit at the race site so you don't need to go back to the store the following day (they have someone onsite at the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim every year... I'm guessing they may also have someone at Columbia, but not 100% sure about that).
Here's the link:
Thanks so much for the info Luke! Much appreciated!
The club also has a free XTerra wetsuit loaner/demo program for all members to take advantage of. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see if your size is available for the Columbia race weekend.
President, DC Tri Club
I'm also doing Columbia too and while wetsuit helps with speed, I would wear it simply because I expect the water to be 60 degree-ish at the 7am swim start. I just did the Peasantman training race today, and the weather there is comparable to Columbia and I don't expect it to be that much warmer in the next two weeks. The water today was COLD and wearing the wetsuit made all the difference for me.
Do think about whether you want to go with a sleeveless vs. full sleeve one. I like the full sleeve because it feels warmer and therefore jumping into the cold water doesn't shock my system as much. On the flip side, my fellow DC tri friends with sleeveless suits told me they warmed up rather quickly, and it feels less restrictive. I have slight restrictiveness issues with my full sleeve wetsuit but the psychological benefit of feeling warm in a long sleeve at the start of the race is more important to me than the slight restrictiveness that I feel.
In any case, see if you can try the wetsuit in open water before the day of the race to get a feel for it. You don't want any surprises on race day. I'd be happy to find an open water area to swim with you before the race!
Also, make sure to get some body glide and put it on under the neck of the wetsuit. I've forgetten this before, and 20-30 minutes of swimming in a wetsuit without body glide will tear your neck up pretty bad.
Body glide, Aquaphour - Spray on Cooking Spray - anything greasy you can get your hands on!