Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Why I Love Wetsuits

Happy Tuesday Triathlete Peeps!  It's Tri Talk Tuesday so that means I get to geek out with my fellow triathletes and talk about all things tri related.   My lovely co-hosts, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Courtney at the Tri Girl Chronicles are going to be chatting about wetsuits a.k.a my safety blanket for when I'm open water swimming, ha ha.

Living in the Great White North, it's not often that I swim without a wetsuit.  Ok, how about never.  Up until Eagleman, I had never done an open water swim without a wetsuit.  I was completely petrified about swimming without a wetsuit.  But, looking back, it wasn't that bad.   However, if I had the choice, I'd always choose to wear a wetsuit and here's why:

1.  Increased buoyancy.   It is almost impossible to stay under water in a wetsuit, which is great if you get panicky and need to take a break to catch your breath.  You can roll over onto your back and float with little effort.  Try doing that without one.  You'll tire out fairly quickly.

2.  Warmth.   Most of the time, the water in Canada is fairly cool.  So wearing a wetsuit keeps you warm.  USAT and Triathlon Ontario have rules about water temperature and wetsuits.   I'm pretty sure that the rules are the same for temperature guidelines.  The rules state that anything 78 degrees F (25 degrees Celsius) and under you are able to wear a wetsuit.  Most bodies of water here don't get that warm unless they're small.  If it's between 79 and 84 degrees you can wear a wetsuit but you won't be eligible for any sort of awards.  If it's over 85 degrees wetsuits are prohibited.  The water at Eagleman was 80 degrees F on race morning and I couldn't imagine wearing a wetsuit in that no matter how freaked out I was without one.  It was warm.  In most of the lakes and rivers I swim in here, the temperatures don't get much above 72-74 degrees F.

3.  Speed.  This is the BIG plus for wetsuits.  A wetsuit puts your body in the most optimal position and it's a smooth uniform surface with a very low drag co-efficient.  If you're swimming in your tri suit or whatever you may be racing in, there are pockets, a neckline etc - all places that water can get into and cause drag.  A wetsuit generally fits tight so it eliminates this sort of drag.  I swim much faster in a wetsuit than I do without.  Case in point, last year at Luxembourg 70.3 I swam 34 minutes for 1.9k in a wetsuit.  This year at Eagleman, I swam 42 minutes for the same distance without a wetsuit (although I did have a swim skin on).  Granted, there was a pretty strong current as well but I still think I would have been about 37-38 minutes if we didn't have the current. 

Those are the main reasons I love swimming in a wetsuit.  In terms of wetsuits themselves, you have a few different options in terms of style;  long sleeve, sleeveless and two piece.  The two piece ones are less common but they are out there!   When wetsuit shopping, be prepared to SWEAT.  Getting in and out of one is not easy.  If possible, bring what you'd race in with you and try it on underneath so you really get a feel for how it fits.

Do you prefer to swim with a wetsuit or without?  

Head on over to the link up and check out the rest of the Tri Talk Tuesday posts!  And tune in two weeks from now when we talk about "getting aero".  Wheeee!


Kelli said...

I can do either - I don't mind the cold and I don't need the security blanket. If it isn't wetsuit legal the playing field should be pretty level, even though my time will be slower (although I did just order a swim skin as I expect the swim for Mid-Atlantic Club Championships to be above 78).

Kristen said...

We are definitely on the same page when it comes to wetsuits. I have actually called my suit a security blanket before, knowing how much it helps me during open water swims. I couldn't imagine doing a race without one, but I guess I should be prepared for anything, right? Have you worn a swim skin before? I see people using them for races like Kona and wonder if they provide any benefits. Glad you were able to have a comfortable race without your wetsuit - I think I would be terrified!

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