The wetsuit you wear is designed to help improve and optimise your performance while you swim. That's why it's essential to consider fit when buying your next wetsuit; size, feel and fit are areas you should concentrate on to really ensure you can swim with efficiency and comfort.
Choosing the right fit
It is important to consider the fit when buying a wetsuit and it's important to try to select the correct size for you. A triathlon-specific wetsuit is designed to improve the swimmer's body position in the water and allow for efficient movement while swimming. This is achieved by combining buoyant and flexible neoprene panels into a comfortable, form-fitting suit.
Functions of a wetsuit are:
- to provide additional floatation
- to reduce drag through the water
- to offer a degree of comfort from colder water
Although there are many different wetsuit brands on the market, they all fit differently. Zone3 have gained so many industry awards over the last six years because the panel design, use of materials and fit is said to be the best in the industry. From research conducted by Zone3 80% of customers will buy a Zone3 a wetsuit having tried on at least two or three other brands purely based on the feel and the fit.
It's important that you do your own research and don't get persuaded by price or if an elite athlete wears a certain brand. FIT is much more important than any gimmicky features, price, branding or colours!
Wetsuit sizing chart
When referring to the sizing chart to determine what size you need, there will be people who fit more than one category or size.
Here are some guideline for choosing what size will be best:
- A person's weight is more critical than their height
- Athletes who have never worn a wetsuit before tend to prefer a Comfort fit so start with the bigger size
- If you have experience of using a wetsuit and are looking for a Performance fit, try the smaller size.
Putting your wetsuit on
Open up the zipper and grab the suit from the inside of the crotch and turn the upper body inside out (you should leave the arms right-way out).
- Remember the zipper goes in the back.
- Start by pulling the legs over your feet while holding on to the inside of the suit and move the legs up your body as much as possible. Depending on how long your legs are you will show 1-15cm of skin above your ankle.
- Once the suit is on over your hips, you may need to adjust the suit further. Being careful not to damage the neoprene with your fingernails, start down low and work the material up the legs until the lower leg seam is across your knee cap and the suit is snug in the crotch.
- Take your time with this and do not put your wetsuit on too quickly as it may result in tearing.
- Once the suit is fitted correctly in the lower body you then can pull it up over your shoulders and arms.
- Once you have got the suit completely on, have someone help you with the zipper. If you are uncomfortable with this you can do up the zipper yourself with the pull cord.
- When doing up the zipper make sure the inner flap along the zipper is not bunching up or folded over.
Determining a good fit
As discussed earlier, many people will fit two sizes acceptably. This is what we call the Comfort fit and Performance fit. The Zone3 entry level wetsuits have a slightly more straight cut around the torso so are designed for comfort first and foremost and then performance second.
Whereas the Aspire and Vanquish wetsuits have a slightly sleeker cut designed to be compressive around the legs and torso but still maintaining total freedom of movements around the shoulders and arms.
Remember, all swimming wetsuits are designed to be tight fitting and like a second skin.
The most important thing when determining whether is the right size for you, is first making sure you have put the suit on correctly.
Wetsuit fit tips
- Remember that you don't need to bend over to touch your toes or do a squat in your wetsuit. The important thing is that you should be able to go through the motion of swimming relatively easily on land.
- Check to see that the suit pulls into your lower back and there is not a big gap. If there is, try bringing the suit higher up on the crotch and bringing the neckline higher. If there is too much excess fabric in any particular area this could mean that the suit is too big and may let water in.
- With your arms extended from your sides (parallel to the ground) the material should be close to your armpits. In this position there should also be some small bumps or folds on the top of the shoulder. If either of these thing is not the case you may need to move the arms of the suit towards your shoulders. To do this, extend one arm over your head and carefully slide the arm of the suit towards your shoulder.
- With your arms extended in front of your chest and crossed at the wrists there should be a minimum of gaping at the neck or billowing in the chest. A small amount of space or folds is expected.
- If you feel that the neck is uncomfortable try pulling the suit up in the back of the legs, butt and especially though the zipper. Grab the base of the zipper and work any excess material towards their shoulders. This will relax the fit in the front of the collar. Swimming in a wetsuit can take some time to get used to because the neck needs to be higher than any other garments to ensure water entry is kept to a minimum.
Remember that the suit will only fit better once it is wet and will also mould to your shape the more you wear it.