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The TBN #55- A Beginner's Guide to Triathlon Wetsuits: How to Pick the Best One

Read time: 2min.

By Coach Yan Busset

Thinking about buying your first triathlon wetsuit?

There are several key considerations to keep in mind. Starting your first triathlon in any wetsuit designed for water sports is possible, but you'll soon notice its limitations. It can slow you down, restrict your movements, and tire you quickly.

Triathlon or open-water swimming wetsuits are specifically designed for swimming. Don't underestimate their importance; aim for quality. A good wetsuit is a game-changer, making you swim faster without restricting movement, and providing thermal protection and buoyancy.

In addition to my coaching, I've been involved in the wetsuit distribution business for many years. This experience has allowed me to witness the evolution of these products firsthand and understand the research and development behind the scenes.

1. Neck Design:

The neck part should have a low cut to avoid restriction. Swimming is challenging enough without feeling something pressing against your throat.

2. Sleeves and Shoulders:

The sleeves and shoulders should be extra thin (1-1.5mm) and flexible to ensure a full range of motion. The design and cut make a significant difference between brands and models. For example, the MAKO range has a unique “arm up” cut that allows for maximum mobility, unlike other brands with T or Y shape arm cuts that can sap your energy on long swims.

3. Torso and Legs:

These areas can be thicker (3-5mm) to ensure good buoyancy. Some brands use extra buoyant panels such as Dome Cell. Yamamoto Dome Cell neoprene has a honeycomb structure that encapsulates air, offering extra flotation while staying within the legal thickness rules. Some wetsuits have neutral buoyancy, lifting both the upper body and legs equally, while others offer more floatation for the legs, which is beneficial for swimmers with sinking legs.

4. Inner Lining:

The fabric inside the wetsuit is as important as the neoprene. It can enhance or diminish overall flexibility. A Lycra inner jersey offers greater comfort, makes it easier to put on, and ensures a speedy removal.

5. Sizing:

When choosing a wetsuit, sizing is crucial. Check the weight on the size chart first; length is less important. Ideally, try it on before buying. Most triathlon wetsuits are made of Japanese Yamamoto neoprene, with higher numbers (38, 39, 40, 42, 44) indicating lighter and more flexible rubber. A triathlon wetsuit should feel tight but not restrict movement and should allow easy breathing.

6. Zipper Design:

Most triathlon wetsuits have a back zipper that opens from top to bottom. However, some, like the MAKO top range, have a reverse zipper that opens from bottom to top. This prevents the zipper from opening accidentally during the swim and offers a more natural motion to open in transition.

Maintenance Tips:

A good triathlon wetsuit can last several years with proper care. Be cautious with sharp nails when putting it on. Avoid heat or direct sunlight exposure. Use gentle baby oil or a neck protector instead of petrol-based lubricants like Vaseline. Rinse with clear water after use, and occasionally deep clean it by soaking in a mix of water and dishwashing liquid.

Choosing the right triathlon wetsuit involves considering various factors, including design, thickness, buoyancy, sizing, inner lining, and zipper design. Investing in a quality wetsuit can significantly enhance your swimming performance and comfort.

After trying most of the brands on the market, endorsing a brand was not a small decision for me. As a professional triathlon coach, people trust my choice as a prescriber.

When I decided on a partnership with MAKO, it was a big step for me. I needed a brand I could endorse with eyes closed, and MAKO has been my brand of choice. They tick all the boxes in terms of quality and R&D, with a straightforward, no-nonsense approach far from the marketing gimmicks.

MAKO take the stress out of the water buy ensuring you focus on your swim, not the equipment.

Trust me on this one, and you won't be disappointed. Visit the MAKO NORDIC webshop, it will be a no-brainer choice to set you up for success in your next triathlon.

And as always, thank you for reading, remember to subscribe to the newsletter so you don't miss on the next article and meanwhile: stay fast and furious and see you next week!


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