Fun fact; my wetsuit is currently being loved by someone else. Yes, it is true. I am currently too pregnant and round and will not even attempt to try my wetsuit on given the, should I say extreme, difference in my weight from last race season to right now. So I loaned it out to one of my tri club friends for the season, she will race in it all summer and hopefully next year I can rekindle my relationship with my beautiful Blueseventy Helix.
Her intention was to use it for race then buy her own, but she loved it so I told her to just hang onto it for the season and I’d get it back from her in the fall. So now if I want to join my club for open water swims I’m going to have to wait a few weeks until the water temperature is more favorable to swimming sans suit.
I spent a fair amount of time researching wetsuits before biting on the Helix. And I’m sure my club buddy will do her due diligence too, although she may end up biased after spending a season in my Helix. I wouldn’t blame her if she did, it’s a great wetsuit.
So, what kind of things did I consider prior to getting my Blueseventy Helix? And what are some things to keep in mind when you start shopping for a wetsuit?
Sleeves versus sleeveless is probably the biggest question people consider. And it’s definitely a decision that you have to make unless you have enough liquid cash to shell out for two wetsuits. Both styles have their pros and cons and it’s important to consider all the ins an outs of having full sleeves or not and what that will mean for you both in training and racing. I appreciate the extra buoyancy my sleeves provide me and catch panels on the forearms allow my arms to dip below the surface of the water without fighting me to bounce back up. But dang if I don’t get warm after a while if the water is over 70F.
Price, price, price. You can get an inexpensive wetsuit for about $100, but you need to be aware what that means in terms of quality and the life of the suit. Got a cheap full sleeved wetsuit? Be prepared for some shoulder fatigue and possible pain after a long swim because the rotator cuff area is always significantly thicker on cheaper suits. And I’m not saying you can’t sniff out a good deal a great suit, but like anything you buy, you get what you pay for sometimes. A while you do not need to go out and drop a grand plus on something high end, I would suggest keeping an open mind to a general price range when looking at wetsuits.
Fit. Yup, prepare to feel like a horribly stuffed sausage, and that’s if the fit is correct too. Wetsuits are not flattering and at best they feel like a sausage casing on your body. It’s difficult to know if the fit is right sometimes because when you first try it on it will be tight from not being stretched or exposed to water yet. Make sure your first trial run in a new wetsuit is in an open water source you’re comfortable in with someone along side you, as they can feel restricting at first. Especially if they do not fit right. They can be tight around the chest, too high on the neck, not pulled up enough, too big, too small, anything. And it’s kind of a game you have to play to find what fits best for you. A brand that works for one person might not work for another, and that’s okay. Many brands have in between sizes which is really nice, and actually what I have. So shop around as much as you can here.
Extra features can also be something that may sway you one way or another. Trying to stay on budget? Skip the bells and whistles. Have a few extra bucks to spend?Then there are some good extra features you can find in mid range to higher end suits such as thinner material around the shoulders (worth considering if you go full sleeve), catch panels or other panels that have dual purposes and help to lessen drag or increase speed/warmth/buoyancy/etc., zipper options such as having ones on legs for speedier transitioning out of your suit. Or like in my case, a reverse zipper which basically negates chaffing that traditional zippers cause at the back of the neck and is a million times easier to unzip, but does require a second person to zip you up. And much more.
If you’re curerntly in the market for a wetsuit, all3sports.com is a great resource and wealth of knowledge. I would highly advise heading over there, either online or in person if you’re anyway near Atlanta, and doing some homework. Then while you’re shopping, go ahead and use code TRIGIRL15 at check out to score yourself 15% off you purchase. Because I love you all and all3sports is an amazing company.
Tri Talk Tuesday will be back again on Tuesday July 14th for another day of tri chatter. Our theme for the next link up is Getting Aero! We’ll be chatting aerodynamic, whatever that may mean to you, so make sure you come join the conversation!