Open water swimming is a thrilling and invigorating sport that allows you to connect with nature while testing your physical limits. Whether you are a seasoned open water swimmer or just starting to explore this exciting world, having the right wetsuit can make a significant difference in your performance and overall experience. In this blog, we will guide you through the essential factors to consider when choosing a wetsuit for open water swimming.
Why Do You Need a Wetsuit for Open Water Swimming?
Before diving into the tips for choosing the right wetsuit, let's briefly discuss why it's crucial to have one for open water swimming. Wetsuits provide several benefits that enhance your performance and safety in the water:
Buoyancy: A wetsuit's neoprene material traps a thin layer of water between your skin and the suit. This layer helps increase your buoyancy, making it easier to float and swim with better body position.
Thermal Insulation: Open water can be cold, even during warm weather. Wetsuits keep your body warm by trapping and heating a small amount of water, allowing you to stay comfortable during longer swims.
Hydrodynamics: A well-fitted wetsuit can improve your hydrodynamic profile, reducing drag and making you more streamlined in the water. This results in more efficient strokes and faster swim times.
Protection: Wetsuits provide some protection against jellyfish stings, scratches from rocks or marine life, and the harmful effects of prolonged exposure to the sun.
Now that we understand the importance of a wetsuit, let's move on to the essential factors to consider when choosing one:
1. Type of Wetsuit:
There are generally two types of wetsuits for open water swimming: full suits and sleeveless suits (also known as "shorties"). Full suits offer more coverage and warmth, making them suitable for cooler waters. Sleeveless suits, on the other hand, are preferred in warmer conditions when thermal insulation is not as critical.
2. Material and Thickness:
Wetsuits are typically made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber that offers excellent flexibility and buoyancy. The thickness of the neoprene is measured in millimeters (mm). Thicker neoprene provides more warmth but can reduce flexibility. For most open water swimming conditions, a wetsuit with a thickness ranging from 3/2mm to 5/4mm is ideal. The thicker panels are usually in the torso and legs for better buoyancy, while thinner panels are in the arms and shoulders for improved mobility.
3. Fit and Comfort:
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of choosing a wetsuit is finding the right fit. A well-fitted wetsuit should feel snug but not overly tight. It should allow for easy movement in the arms, shoulders, and legs, enabling a full range of motion. Pay attention to the manufacturer's size chart and try the wetsuit on before purchasing, if possible.
4. Neck Closure:
Wetsuits come with different types of neck closures: zipperless, Velcro closure, or back zip. Each closure type has its advantages, but for open water swimming, a back zip or zipperless design is generally recommended. These designs reduce water entry and minimize chafing around the neck area.
Wetsuit seams can significantly affect the suit's flexibility and durability. Flatlock seams are comfortable but allow some water entry, making them better suited for warmer waters. Blind stitched and taped seams offer better water resistance and durability, making them suitable for colder waters.
6. Flexibility and Range of Motion:
The flexibility of the wetsuit is critical for unrestricted movement in the water. Look for wetsuits with strategic panel construction and stretchy materials in areas like the shoulders and arms. Triathlon-specific wetsuits often have more flexible neoprene in the shoulders to facilitate efficient swim strokes.
Wetsuits come in a wide price range, and while it's tempting to opt for a cheaper option, investing in a quality wetsuit will pay off in terms of performance, durability, and comfort. High-quality wetsuits are designed with advanced features and materials, giving you an edge in the water.
8. Brand Reputation:
Choose a reputable brand known for producing high-quality wetsuits. Brands like Sumarpo wetsuits, which are certified by FINA and cater to triathlon athletes, are a good option to consider. Their dedication to providing professional-grade wetsuits ensures that you are getting a product that meets the demands of open water swimming and triathlon competitions.
Selecting the right wetsuit for open water swimming is a crucial decision that can greatly impact your performance and enjoyment in the water. Consider the type, material, thickness, fit, closures, seams, flexibility, and brand reputation when making your choice. Remember that investing in a high-quality wetsuit like Sumarpo wetsuits, which are specially designed for triathlon athletes and certified