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Wetsuits - Need, Sleeveless, full?(4 posts)

Wetsuits - Need, Sleeveless, full?jesjr62
Mar 4, 2003 5:56 AM
I've done one local triathlon a year for the past 2 years and plan on doing 4-6 (sprint and olympic distance) this year, hopefully working up to an ironman next year. I'm thinking about investing in a wetsuit and have some basic questions.

First: Are they worth the investment? I live in the northeast and most of the triathlons in the area are ocean swims.

Second: Sleeveless or full? I'm not a fast swimmer, but can swim the distance with relative ease.

Thanks for the help!
re: Wetsuits - Need, Sleeveless, full?brider
Mar 4, 2003 11:45 AM
In the northwest, I used a sleeveless for years. It was also mid-calf in the legs. Made for easy exit. You could also go with a shortie.

Are they worth it? Yes. Your body position will improve and you'll be faster. Also, for those times when it's just a bit cold, the warmth will make a big difference when you get on the bike.
ditto on the shortieSteve_0
Mar 27, 2003 9:30 AM
makes for a MUCH quick transition.

Worth it for the tri; but not in the open water swimming circles; at least in the northeast, you typically dont qualify for awards if you swim in a wetsuit.
They do help you float and go faster. . .js5280
Mar 5, 2003 12:57 PM
but take some getting used to. A full suit is tougher because your arms have to get used to the suit's resistance but a full suit is faster than a long john (i.e. sleeve-less) for accomplished swimmmers. Here's a two good articles on wetsuits and their performance enhancements from Trinewbies:

Sounds like the swims would be cold enough to justify a suit. The official word from USA Triathlon is that water has to be less than 78 degrees or < 84 degrees for age groupers but are ineligable for prizes (

I choose a sleeveless suit (Ironman Stealth Long John) because of the lower price and extra ease of arm movement. I'm not an immediate threat to the podium so the performance decrease of a LJ wasn't a factor, and I don't need the extra warmth either.

One of the most important things though is fit. I wouldn't recommend buying a suit online you haven't tried on before. I tried on Orca, Quintana Roo, and Ironman brands and the Ironman was the only one that fit me. It all depends on your body shape. They should fit pretty snug, particularly for sleeveless else it will scoop in water, causing major drag and flushing the warm insulated water out and chilling you making everything worse. Don't have a good link on fit, but a good Tri shop should help you out with what to look for, but make sure to shop around and try a few suits to see how each fits and buy the best fitting one. Price and brand should be secondary. You might consider a used suit if price is a concern. Try a local tri club, they often have nice used wetsuits and you can try it on typically. Good luck!