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#1
Old 06-24-2003, 01:12 PM
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How tight is a wetsuit supposed to be?

I am shopping for wetsuits for a triathlon that is coming up. I've never worn a wetsuit (except for the one I tried on yesterday). I suspect they're supposed to be tight, but HOW tight? It took me at least 5 minutes to get it on my body, and it was supposedly my size. It only took about 15 seconds to get off, though, which is more important for triathlon purposes. I felt like it was hard to get a deep breath. Does this sound right?

In addition to answer to above question, I would be interested in hearing personal experiences/advice re wetsuits, which may make this better suited for IMHO...I dunno....
#2
Old 06-24-2003, 01:20 PM
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My experience is related to neoprene wetsuits that we use for rafting. If it isn't tight, it isn't going to be doing the job for what it is intended, which is to allow a thin film of water between the suit and your body which the body warms as insulation against the ambient temperature of the water.

They really will fit many body types but I don't think I've ever seen anyone spend 5 minutes getting into one. Most folks have more difficulty in getting them off unassisted.

I think though, that for triathalon purposes that it would be important to be able to breath, so I'd be looking at a somewhat larger suit.
#3
Old 06-24-2003, 01:22 PM
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I should mention too, although I haven't ever competed in a triathalon of ANY kind, that I find a farmer john to be adequate to my needs and would leave your arms free for swimming purposes.
#4
Old 06-24-2003, 01:49 PM
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As bare mentioned, the suit needs to be very tight in order to work correctly. Wet suits are sized according to your weight and height. However, if you (like me) do not fit one of the categories then you have to choose how to fit the suit. For example, I am 5'8" and 190 lbs. Most suits made for my height are too small for my weight. You can, therefore, either deal with the tightness or go up a size for the weight and have longer arms and legs. Incidentally, I always go up a size and the extra length has never been a problem.
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#5
Old 06-24-2003, 02:05 PM
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I don't know if you necessarily wan't a tight fit for it can be uncomfortable and cut circulation. But you definately want a snug fit. Same way that your socks fit, you don't want any "loose" material but you don't want to struggle to get them on.
#6
Old 06-24-2003, 02:51 PM
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Re: How tight is a wetsuit supposed to be?

Quote:
Originally posted by tesseract
I am shopping for wetsuits for a triathlon that is coming up. I've never worn a wetsuit (except for the one I tried on yesterday). I suspect they're supposed to be tight, but HOW tight? It took me at least 5 minutes to get it on my body, and it was supposedly my size. It only took about 15 seconds to get off, though, which is more important for triathlon purposes. I felt like it was hard to get a deep breath. Does this sound right?

In addition to answer to above question, I would be interested in hearing personal experiences/advice re wetsuits, which may make this better suited for IMHO...I dunno....
That does sound about right. For a tri wetsuit, you want tight. (BTW, were you trying on a tri wetsuit or a generic one? The ones that aren't designed for triathlon often do not allow enough of a range of motion in the shoulders. Also, were you at a tri store? Someone there should know how it should fit.) But what you're saying does sound about right.

It gets easier to get it on.
#7
Old 06-24-2003, 03:04 PM
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I can only talk about scuba diving wetsuits, but yes it should be tight. It shouldn't be impossible to take a deep breath but when you do you should certainly be able to feel the wetsuit pushing back at your ribs. It shouldn't cut circulation either and should be comfortable to wear.

Wetsuits are alot easier to take on and off when their wet.
#8
Old 06-24-2003, 03:26 PM
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Go to a dive shop or 2 and ask them, they will help you out.

Some advice on how to get into and out of a wetsuit fast.

Liquid soap method - i.e. dawn, smear on body before trying to get it on, helps a lot. Also you usually have some remaining to help it get off.

Water method - enter water (waist deep) with w.s. in hand. scoop (cold) water into it then jam leg (or legs if fast enough) into legholes before the water runs out (and wetsuit shrinks to original size). Take another scoop of (cold) water, (and depending on water temp saying goodby to your testicals for a while as you won't be feeling them). This scoop with your legs in place will expand the wetsuit and allow you to don it fully before all excess water comes out. The same procedure can be used for removal as well.
#9
Old 06-24-2003, 03:41 PM
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Actually what most triathletes do to get out of wet suits fast is smear grease (what kind I forget) on their bodies before they put it on.
#10
Old 06-24-2003, 04:54 PM
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It takes a long time to put one on when it's dry & fast to take it off.

How tight should it be? There shouldn't be any big bubbles between your flesh & the suit, but it shouldn't be so tight as to restrict your arms, legs or breathing. Don't forget a hood.
#11
Old 06-24-2003, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ol'Gaffer
For example, I am 5'8" and 190 lbs. Most suits made for my height are too small for my weight.
You may want to look at NRS's line of Grizzly Wetsuits. As the company puts it: "Designed for the 'teddy bear', in your group, this wetsuit is extra roomy."
#12
Old 06-24-2003, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Billdo
You may want to look at NRS's line of Grizzly Wetsuits. As the company puts it: "Designed for the 'teddy bear', in your group, this wetsuit is extra roomy."
Hey, thanks Billdo. They look like they might actually have one that fits me! However, I surf and paddling while wearing a front-zippered suit is a little uncomfortable, plus all of the other surfers tend to point and laugh . I do like being referred to as a teddy bear though.
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#13
Old 06-24-2003, 05:39 PM
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Re: How tight is a wetsuit supposed to be?

Quote:
Originally posted by tesseract
In addition to answer to above question, I would be interested in hearing personal experiences/advice re wetsuits, which may make this better suited for IMHO...I dunno....
Don't pee in a 'dry suit'!!
A guy I knew, who also did triathlons, used to borrow a wetsuit while he was saving up for his own. When he got in the water he had a pee to help warm up. He eventually bought a dry suit........
#14
Old 06-25-2003, 05:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy
Don't forget a hood.
If you do get a hood, make very sure it isn't too tight because if it constricts the blood vessels in your neck your brain will think your blood pressure is too high and instruct your heart to slow down... end result, um, not good. So look for one that fits snugly but isn't uncomfortably tight.
#15
Old 06-25-2003, 08:32 AM
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As someone who thought borrowing a friend's farmer john for a triathalon was a good idea... let me pass on this little tidbit: Stay away from them if your main purpose is swimming. Although it will give an extended range or arm motion as Bare mentioned, it will also pucker out out a bit around the neck / chest as you swim and can create a large "water scoop" that will really slow you down....
#16
Old 06-25-2003, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bare
My experience is related to neoprene wetsuits that we use for rafting. If it isn't tight, it isn't going to be doing the job for what it is intended, which is to allow a thin film of water between the suit and your body which the body warms as insulation against the ambient temperature of the water.
This is a common myth. Water is a poor insulator; in fact, it conducts heat 25 times as fast as air. So warming the water inside the 'suit burns energy.

A wetsuit does two things: It is tight so that a thin film of water gets inside and no more water flows through. Water flow will cool a person just like a breeze in air, the process being called convection. So the initial water gets trapped in the suit, and only that much water needs to be warmed.

The other task of a wetsuit is insulation against the water's temperature. Air at 75* F is quite comfortable, and generally a person can run around all day with no special insulation (jacket or sweater) and be just fine. But splash around in water at that temperature for an hour, and you'll be feeling chilled. Neoprene rubber insulates against the water temperature and resists heat lost by conduction.

For completeness, a trivial amount of heat loss (estimated by Rodale's Scuba Magazine at 1% of total in-water heat loss) is due to direct radiation, which can be countered with a reflective metallic lining. And a negligible amount of heat is lost through other methods.

A dry suit, of course, doesn't let any water inside in the first place. So there's no heat lost to convection. Dry suits have tighter seals than wet suits and require extra training.

IANA dive instructor, though I would like to train to be one!
#17
Old 06-25-2003, 09:49 AM
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Scuba_Ben, if the person is going to be swimming on top of the sea, not under it, certain laws are changed. One you forgot to mention is that a wetsuit is black so the sun light can warm you up. I wonder what happened to the OP?
#18
Old 06-25-2003, 10:40 AM
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handy, as a certain fictional character once said, "You canna change tha laws of physics!"

If the triathalon from the OP will hold its swimming leg in open water, the contestant will need insulation to reduce heat loss due to conduction, and a covering to reduce heat loss due to convection. This normally means a wetsuit made of neoprene rubber (insulation) which fits snugly (covering) and has an outer nylon shell in bright colors (so the contestant can be spotted and cheered on).

I'm guessing the OP will want to rent a 3 or 4 mm wetsuit designed for competitive swimming (which needs good mobility in the arms and legs). Ask the local dive shop for help.

I'm not familiar with the usefulness of solar warming of a wetsuit on the surface, only at depth. Solar warming is good, adequate insulation is better.
#19
Old 06-25-2003, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy
I wonder what happened to the OP?
I'm here, I'm here. I got busy at work yesterday. Wow, thanks all for the helpful responses. I have a much better sense now about it....maybe the one I tried on was not too tight, after all. I plan to try more this weekend.

Quote:
Originally posted by kanicbird
Take another scoop of (cold) water, (and depending on water temp saying goodby to your testicals for a while as you won't be feeling them).
Luckily I don't have these, so I won't be worrying about this particular issue.

Hmm, this worries me though:
Quote:
Originally posted by pipper
As someone who thought borrowing a friend's farmer john for a triathalon was a good idea... let me pass on this little tidbit: Stay away from them if your main purpose is swimming. Although it will give an extended range or arm motion as Bare mentioned, it will also pucker out out a bit around the neck / chest as you swim and can create a large "water scoop" that will really slow you down....
This is exactly what I was thinking, get a farmer john for the swimming portion. I'm not a diver (though it sounds like fun) - this is strictly for the triathlon. It wasn't a triathlon suit, as
amarinth and others have mentioned --- maybe a tri-specific suit would not present this problem?
#20
Old 06-25-2003, 02:17 PM
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Remember also, that you're using the wetsuit for buoyancy, and a full suit is better for that purpose (if you won't get too hot, which may or may not be an issue where you're swimming. And very nearly all of the tri suits I've seen in stores and on other people are black...you're pretty indistinguishable in the water with or without one.)

If you can (and I think I've heard of some in the bay area) get to a tri store and ask for help. (I'm far from an expert, but based on this thread it seems that wetsuits are somewhat, though not entirely, use specific - and you'll want one that is fit for your purposes.)
#21
Old 06-25-2003, 02:22 PM
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Tri Tips

I started competing in triathlons last summer and completed four, the longest was an Olympic distance, and have done one sprint so far this year.

I wear a sleeveless shorty suit called Tri-Max made by Performace that was a handed down to me from my father. He started racing He bought it three or four years ago, but only wore it once because it was too tight around his chest. It fits me well, as I am thinner than he his. This suit was cheap when he bought it, less than $100, but that company doesn't make wet suits any more.

As a triathlete, the main reason to wear a wetsuit is to go faster. Every swimmer, except for the most elite with perfect form, gain speed due to the increased bouyancy which let them ride higher in the water. The full length suits will hold your legs up so that you don't need to kick, saving your legs for the bike and run. Triathlon wetsuits will be made differently that suits made for diving or waterskiing with more room in the shoulders. A couple of my coworkers started doing triathlons last year too, and they picked up wetsuits that were made for jetskiing for our first race. They both had problems swimming as their shoulders were restricted.

The grease the other posters mentioned for aiding wetsuit removal is called BodyGlide. It is also good for preventing chafing around the edges of the suit. I usually put some around my neck because turning your head can rub around the collar. The people that wear full length suits will put it on their ankles and feet to aid suit removal in the first transition. I've also heard some put it on their ankles so that if another swimmer tries to grab their ankle to swim over them, the hand will slip off. Some people use vaseline since it's cheaper, but that may damage your suit. The time that it takes to damage it vs. the money you spend on BodyGlide probably evens out.

At the races I've been to, the popular triathlon wetsuits are Orcas and Ironman brand. One of the coworkers I mentioned before that tried to wear jetskiing suit just bought a Pro Motion suit from wetsuit.com and is happy with it. They also have a really good FAQ about triathlon wetsuits. Nobody wears suits with hoods, swim caps provided by the organizer are worn on your head, usually color coded depending on what wave you are in.

If the race you are doing is USA Triathlon sactioned, you can go here to see their rules regarding wetsuits and swimmimg. Remember that drafting is illegal on the bike, but not in the swim. Swimming in someone's wake will enable you to swim faster with less effort.

Have fun at your race!
#22
Old 06-25-2003, 02:36 PM
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and another article on triathlon wetsuits
#23
Old 06-25-2003, 05:26 PM
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We have a P.G. Triathlon & you can buy wetsuits then, so maybe you can buy one at the Triathllon.

My brother gave me a really big one & it seems to fit but when going under a wave a huge amount of water comes through the holes.
#24
Old 06-26-2003, 10:44 AM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, all. Great tips and great sites. Very helpful! Not to say you can't add more...I'll still check. My (first) triathlon is a sprint tri on July 12.
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