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wet suit or no wet suit?
CREATED: 04/15/09 by richwerth REPLIES: 12
richwerth    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 13
wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/15/09 8:39 PM

What are the opinions on wetsuits? For example in a 1/2 mile swim what would the temp have to wear one? For a mile swim?

bcfrank's ravatar bcfrank    JOINED: 3/23/09    POSTS: 1098
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/15/09 8:53 PM

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the rules are: 1) in water temps up to and including 78F, you are permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any USAT sanctioned event; 2) in water temps greater than 78 but less than 84, you can wear a wetsuit at your own discretion, but you are not eligible for scoring; 3) in water temps greater than or equal to 84, wetsuits are not allowed.

This applies to USAT sanctioned events. You'll probably have to check with the particular race if you're doing one not USAT sanctioned.

It does not matter on the distance. It's based solely on water temperature.

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1481
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/15/09 9:02 PM

Bryan is correct. The only thing that I would add to that is that professional triathletes are not allowed to wear one when the temp is greater than 68 degrees. As far as what temp below 78 should one consider wearing a wetsuit, that's personal choice. No one can make that decision for you.

Do you need a wetsuit for a tri ? No. A lot of people don't wear wetsuits for sprint and oly distance races. Generally speaking, the better swimmer you are the less benefit that a wetsuit will assist you in terms of speed and boyancy. The buoyancy really helps weaker swimmer both physically and mentally.

Wetsuits are kind of expensive. You can look for super sale that sometimes will cost you less than $100 but generally speaking they are a lot more than that. The more expensive the suit, the more flexible the rubber material is. You can also rent a wetsuit for race day.

If I were you, I would buy a wetsuit if triathlon is something that you would like to do for the foreseeable future. If you are still unsure about triathlons then the best course of action may be to rent one to see how you like it.


richwerth    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 13
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/15/09 9:09 PM

Thanks guys for the information. I did not know what the rules were.

I'm also wondering what other people's preferences are on wearing them. Is it worth the added time to take a wetsuit off if the water is 70 degrees? How cold would the water have to be to make you wear one?

I know this is a personal preference thing, I'm just trying to get a ballpark idea.

I've done a pool triathlon in the past and will be doing my first open water triathlon May 9th.

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1481
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/15/09 9:16 PM

There is no water temp min requirement for wetsuits. If you can swim in 35 degree water temp ... they will let you :)

Take a wetsuit off does not take that long. Someone who knows what he's doing can take it off in 10 seconds. Slower folks may take 30 seconds or so. Keep in mind that most people don't start taking their wetsuits off when they reach their transition area. Most people will start taking off the top part as they are running from the water to the transition area. All that you are taking off at the transition area is the bottom part ... so it does not take that much time.

Unless you are competing to be a top age grouper, I'd say that it's worth it to get a wet suit. The extra time that it takes off the bottom of the wetsuit can be made up during the swim with the extra buoyancy and reduction in drag .... my opinion :)

ajulia's ravatar ajulia    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 145
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 10:12 AM

Even though wetsuits are allowed, 78 degrees is pretty toasty! Last year I did an oly where the water temp was 73, and I wore my long-sleeved wetsuit because I am always cold, but a lot of people went without. It does take some work to get it off in transition, but with practice that's only a handful of seconds.

Anybody remember what the temp was for Nation's last year?

sschulman's ravatar sschulman    JOINED: 3/2/09    POSTS: 19
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 10:40 AM

I was curious, since I'm doing the Nation's this year, so I looked -- it was about 73 degrees in September.

By the way, no idea whether these wetsuits are good, but LL Bean has full suits for $129 and short ("spring") suits for $79. The good thing about LL Bean is that they always take returns, at any time, no questions asked. I'd be interested to know if anyone has ever tried one.

xena's ravatar xena    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 138
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 10:43 AM

You can also rent wetsuits.
Bonzai rents wetsuits for something like $30/week and you can apply the rental price towards the purchase of a wetsuit.

Swimming in a wetsuit is like driving an SUV, you feel insulated and entitled.

Just make sure you practice with it before your race.

ajulia's ravatar ajulia    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 145
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 10:59 AM

Not all wetsuits are the same... the ones you would buy from LLBean are probably for kayaking or some other water sport, and are not built to provide the buoyancy and range of motion you need for a distance swim. Ditto for surfing wetsuits.

I think we get some discount or special sale through XTERRA. Can anyone confirm?

xena's ravatar xena    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 138
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 11:11 AM

Julia is totally right on both counts.

The LL Bean wetsuits are meant for like kayaking. They're too thick and won't provide the range of motion you'll need for swimming.

And we do have a discount at Xterra.

Click on "Partners" in the teeny tiny print in the top right corner above the banner.
Then click on "Xterra" and in the description is the discount code.

The partners page might be protected so you might have to log in before you can access it.

wombat's ravatar wombat    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 269
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 11:18 AM

Xterra current has suits on sale. In December I bought a 2008 sleeveless Vortex for $100. It's my first wetsuit and I didn't want to spend a lot of money. It's very buoyant and fits well - no neck rubbing or chafing.

ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 11:24 AM

This past winter I bought my wetsuit from XTerra for $75. It was a clearance model, but should do the trick. I would think that wearing a wetsuit is a matter of preference. My wetsuit is so tight that it would take the jaws of life to get me out of it. Luckily, for IM races they have peelers for after the swim. Plus, one must consider the distance along with the temperature for when to use. Once I did a sprint in 62 degree water and an Oly for the same. The sprint was okay, but it was a rough Oly swim. Also, take into consideration the air temperature. Last year at Eagleman when the air temps were in the 90s I didn't wear one for fear of overheating. You just have to see what works for you.

morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 728
RE: wet suit or no wet suit?
POSTED: 4/16/09 2:41 PM

I did not wear a wetsuit at Nations last year, even though they were allowed. I was definitely in the minority on that count. I am a self admitted spaz at getting the damn thing off and it feels so restrictive in the shoulders - even though it fits. Plus, the full body exposure to the Potomac cannot be underestimated! Lived to tell the tale.

On that note - find me a peeler!

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