How to Choose a Wetsuit

By Pro-Triathlete Laura Siddall

Best Triathlon Wetsuits

We all know that triathlon involves a lot of stuff! Bikes, wheels, helmets, trainers, watches, power meters, fins, paddles, pull buoy and more. Then add in a wetsuit, and it's almost black magic on knowing what wetsuit to buy. A little like bikes, each company proclaiming they have the fastest wetsuit, and this is the one you need! 

I'll say first that there is no easy answer to this. I've tried pretty much every brand over the past few years, and at the time, I feel they are the right suit for me because I don't know any different. It's only when I try another range or brand and feel the difference. Also, what is right for you, won't necessarily be right for someone else. We all have different strokes and styles. What works for Lucy Charles-Barclay as one of the best swimmers in the sport, and someone who has grown up as a swimmer does not necessarily work for me, someone who's come into the sport quite late and isn't a natural swimmer. 

Also, companies are now bringing out wetsuits for all temperatures and strokes. Whether you are swimming in the Nordic single-digit seas or just an all-year-round ocean die-hard, to those perhaps who love swimming, and breaststroke is their thing, yes, there is a wetsuit for you! 

I hope to, in this article, try to provide a bit of guidance that may help as you try and find the right wetsuit for you. 

The Correct Fit for Wetsuits

How Tight Should a Wetsuit be

Wetsuits should feel pretty tight. At first, they can be a squeeze to get on and may feel uncomfortably tight, but this should ease a little (not loads), and you should feel a little more comfortable and definitely not restricted. A lot will depend if you have put the suit on correctly (see below). Don't be afraid to try on multiple suits and take advantage of demo suits, particularly at events where you can jump in a pool and test them out, or even take one for a week or so and swim with it at home. (See the bottom of the article for a good test set swim to do when trying different wetsuits.)

Also, study the sizing chart, but if you can, speak to the company itself. As an example, on the sizing charts, I always come out as a medium (same with clothes), but I wear a small or tall small in wetsuits and often small in the kit. It's not because I like things super tight… on the contrary, I hate ridiculously tight kit, but it's just that I'm not traditional dimensions or shape, so whilst my stats say medium, my shape is actually small. 

A good suit should feel tight but ultimately comfortable and not restrictive. It should be flexible in the shoulders, allowing you to maintain your swim stroke and doing so without massive fatigue. It should also have buoyancy in the right places to help your swim. 

Inside Out

When putting a wetsuit on, it's best to start with the wetsuit inside out. Then you almost roll the suit on. Starting with each leg, put your foot** into the inside out leg and then roll it up. Probably best to go partway up one leg and then the next, before you then roll the suit up and over the hips and waist. At this point, ensure the wetsuit is up into the crotch. You can pinch and gently pull the suit up by the legs again for this (just of course be careful with fingernails etc.) Again, with the arms, start with them inside out and roll the sleeves up your arms. When it comes to the shoulders, ensure the arms and shoulders are hitched up sufficiently. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a friend help with this section, ensuring the suit is on properly over your shoulders and lats, and when then zipped up, you have the freedom to move your arms etc.
**Some people like to use plastic bags over their feet and hands to help slide the suit on or gloves.

Alternatively, if you'd like a more visual demonstration, take a look at Deboer's video above, where professional triathlete Lauren Brandon shows us how to put a Deboer wetsuit on correctly!

Sink or Swim

Best Wetsuit for Swimming in Cold Water

Ok, that's a little dramatic for a bullet point, and I certainly don't want to imply that you are going to sink in your wetsuit! Far from it. That's one of the bonuses' from a wetsuit, if not the top one. They are buoyant and help you stay afloat in the water, or rather lift your body up, help your body position in the water, and therefore help you swim faster. Some athletes (males predominantly) often find they are much better in a wetsuit than in the pool. 

As said, the suit should be snug but not uncomfortably tight. If it's too small, it will restrict your movement. Too big, and it will fill with water and then become a drag.

A small amount of water should get inside your suit while you swim. This is necessary for the suit to do its job. The wetsuit is designed to hold a small layer of water against your skin. Your body warms this water up, and the suit keeps it from escaping. If too much water is able to flow in and collect, it not only prevents you from staying warm but just becomes a drag and makes the suit heavier. 

Wetsuits Swim Set Test

Wetsuits Swim Set Test

If you have the opportunity to test and try a few suits at home before you buy, think about doing a similar set to this below. 

Warm-up, then 8 x 100 on a 60% effort.

You need someone else to note your time down for each 100 and then tell you when to go again, with perhaps taking 15sec rest. It's important that someone else is setting you off, and you're not looking at the clock or taking the time yourself. You are swimming blind, so to speak, just going on effort and maintaining that. 

You can then repeat this with different wetsuits and then note any differences in time, but also in feel and fatigue.

Which Wetsuit Should I Buy for Triathlon

And so... Still, which one do I buy? As said, there are many great brands out there, and it's worth trying them out to see which is right for you. It's like a bike fit. It's all individual to you and your dimensions, and it's a little the same with wetsuits. It's worth spending the time, but it's also worth the investment. You spend on a bike, the race wheels, the aero helmet, and more. It's worth taking the time and investing in a good wetsuit too.

The Deboer Range of Wetsuits

Fjord 2.0

Deboer Fjord 2.0 Wetsuit

The Fjord 2.0 is the next generation from the Fjord 1.0. This is probably Deboers premium product, and it's amazing! Zero resistance shoulder movement provides unparalleled mobility, and 5mm WhaleSkin™ neoprene throughout the body and legs provides unmatched buoyancy and flexibility. Additionally, a Hi-Vis Ocellus pattern has been incorporated into the design to improve the swimmer's visibility and make open water swimming safer. For temperatures down to 16 deg C. For the full spec: See Fjord 2.0 (See Fjord 1.0 for the original Deboer suit. Now superseded by the Fjord 2.0)

And see the picture below for a closer look at what the Fjord 2.0 has to offer!

Deboer Wetsuit Features

Fjord 1.1

Deboer Fjord 1.1 Wetsuit

The Fjord 1.1 has all the benefits of our Fjord 1.0, sans sleeves. For slightly warmer water temperatures (down to 16° C / 61° F) and for those who simply like to swim sleeveless. The same incredible buoyancy and speed that Deboer delivers time and again. See Fjord 1.1 

Floh 1.0

Deboer Floh 1.0 Wetsuit

The Floh 1.0 is the suit for those willing to brave colder water temperatures (down to 12° C / 53° F). Zero resistance shoulder movement gives the swimmer the most natural stroke resulting in uninhibited arm speed. This economy of effort allows for longer swim time without additional fatigue. See Floh 1.0

Groove 1.0

Deboer Groove 1.0 Wetsuit

The Groove 1.0 is your answer to everyday training and if you can't quite stretch to the Fjord. It's ready to stand up to the rigours of everyday training while also being right at home toeing the start line of any event. The Groove 1.0 utilizes Ultra-light 44Cell HBF-Limestone neoprene™ through the body and legs for maximum buoyancy while remaining light for the entire duration of your swim. The arms are constructed of 1.5mm DuraStretch neoprene to provide unrestricted flexibility that Deboer is known for. When you are putting in the work, day-in and day-out, you need your equipment to be as resilient as you are. See Groove 1.0

Ocean 1.0

Deboer Ocean 1.0 Wetsuit

The Ocean 1.0 is a thermal-lined wetsuit designed for athletes who never back down from a challenge. Deboer incorporated the same zero resistance shoulder movement technology found in our Flōh 1.0 wetsuit and added a ThermaFur thermal lining to create a no-compromises wetsuit. No joke, the ThermaFur is AMAZING! They also integrated an Ocellus pattern on the Ocean 1.0 to make the wetsuit more visible from a greater distance. Don't let conditions dictate what you can do. When the Ocean 1.0 is paired with the Polar hoodie, gloves, and socks, it will keep you warm in the water down to 6°C/43°F. See Ocean 1.0

 

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About Laura Siddall

About Pro-Triathlete Laura Siddall | How to Choose a Wetsuit

Pro-triathlete, Non-Executive Director and ambassador for Neuff Red... is there anything this superwoman can't do??

Currently the fifth fastest British woman of all time over the iron distance, as well as being a four time Ironman Champion, Laura's history in triathlon and sport as a whole is one that is truly iconic. And being a self confessed "sports junky", there's no sign of her stopping anytime soon!