Buying the right swim wetsuit based on your swimming goals, ability and budget may not only save you money in the long run, it will also help to support good swim technique, prevent injury as well as improve performance. So what makes a really good swim wetsuit and what is right for you? As we race towards a great line up of 2023 events, we gather insight from Founder of Yonda Sports, Angus Greenwood on the importance of finding the right wetsuit.
Firstly, it is important to differentiate between a surfing/water sports wetsuit and a swimming wetsuit. When you’re new to triathlon, duathlon or open water swimming, many make the mistake of buying something cheap – thinking all wetsuits are fit for purpose. But after a short time, you’ll realise that this simply isn’t the case.
Designed simply to keep you warm and buoyant, traditional water sports wetsuits tend to be made of cheaper, thicker and less flexible open neoprene. They can restrict movement and absorb water, making them heavy and fatiguing. This is often detrimental to technique and increases the risk of injury. Swim wetsuits are specifically designed for swimming. They are made from high quality, super flexible neoprene covered by a hydrophobic closed skin. This makes them lighter, flexible, more buoyant and hydrodynamic through the water, thus helping to put the swimmer in an optimal swimming position. Swimming in a well fitted swim wetsuit shouldn’t significantly change technique, won’t cause increased fatigue and may even improve swim performance.
If you are new to open water, try and attend a demo day or hire a swim wetsuit to see if you are going to enjoy it. If you’re going to be an occasional open water swimmer or just doing a charity event, then borrow, hire or buy a quality suit that fits. If you plan to commit to regular open water swimming, plan/ budget to invest in a quality swim wetsuit that supports your goals and swimming ability. For most that is around £180-£350. If you’re able to travel, there’s also the option to visit the Yonda Retail Hub in Honley, Holmfirth. Angus himself will be on hand to show you the Yonda wetsuit range, explain the differences and help you to find the right size and fit for you.
If you are a newbie, or less technically able swimmer, building for a swim challenge, consider mid range wetsuit that still deliver great flexibility & performance such as the Yonda Spook. The Yonda wetsuit is our most inclusive wetsuit with 14 different size options.
A poorly fitting £1000 wetsuit will be worse than a great fitting £50 second hand wetsuit. The correct body length combined with great flexibility and cut around your shoulders and torso are the most important parameters of how well a wetsuit fits and performs in allowing you to swim with the least restriction/resistance and fatigue. If the body of the wetsuit is too short or narrow, it will compress and restrict your movements and breathing. Likewise, if the shoulders of the wetsuit are too tight, they will restrict movement, resulting in unnecessary fatigue & poor stroke technique. If the body of the wetsuit is too big, it is likely to flood with water, making it cold, heavy and fatiguing. Wearing a wetsuit for the first time can feel claustrophobic. Don’t panic! An open water swimming wetsuit is designed to fit like a second skin. However, you should still be able to breathe! Once on and fitted, flush your wetsuit with water, this will slightly lift the neoprene away from your body, the water acting as a lubricant as well as keeping you warm.
Females tend to have greater natural buoyancy and more propulsive leg kicks compared to males. Therefore they typically sit higher and more horizontal when in the water. It is really important to match the buoyancy of the wetsuit to the swimmer and their technique. Swimming in an over buoyant wetsuit can result in back hyper extension or injury. Cheap entry level wetsuits tend be made from thicker, over buoyant neoprene and can be a cause of such issues. Swimming breaststroke in a full length wetsuit is challenged by the resistance of the neoprene in the legs and the buoyancy. A half leg wetsuit makes a significant difference. The Yonda Spook wetsuit is the first, entry level wetsuits that have really addressed both of these issues, while allowing you to swim breaststroke if you wish.
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