View Full Version : Wet Suits

December 29th, 2003, 06:03 AM
Does USMS have a "position" regarding wet suits in open water swims? I've read in triathlon magazines that some oppose wet suits as these make a swimmer more buoyant than he or she would otherwise be. With a wet suit, I might be more encouraged to swim those events in colder water. But in terms of insulating against colder temperatures, how much does a wet suit really help?

Ken Classen
December 29th, 2003, 07:01 PM
USMS rules allows the use of wetsuits at the race directors option. See [URL=http://www.usms.org/rules/part3.pdf] and section 303.6. However in all the USMS open water Championships races I've never seen the meet director allow wetsuits. Call it tradition and making the elements part of the race. In local format races there is usually a wetsuit division. A wetsuit probably allows you to go down another 10-12 degrees of colder temperature tolerance.

Damage Inc
December 31st, 2003, 10:40 PM
I have swum many events both with and without a wetsuit. I use the wet suit only when I feel the water is to cold for my level of comfort/safety. Does the increased bouency (?) make you faster, probably a little but I bet not much. The last triathlon I did I swam without a wetsuit, most swam with a wetsuit, yet I was first out of the water. Granted I am a swimmer first and triathlete second but I was much faster than the second person who did have a wet suit. The week before this event I swam the Alcatraz Sharkfest with a wetsuit as it was my first time and I had to go with my comfort/safety level. I placed 9th overall:) . Did I notice a difference between the two weekends? not much really. Both water temperatures were in the 60s. But the triathlon was a shorter swim so I felt more comfortable in the safety factor. Will I swim the Alcatraz without a wetsuit next time? Maybe.
Purists in our sport will say never use a wet suit, but I say if going without means you wont do the swim, it eliminates the purpouse of swimming for the pleasure of the sport. Yes I also believe there should be a non wetsuit devision in these races, but some peolple just want the experience and joy of saying they completed something special. So go ahead and use a wet suit if you need to, and don't let it stop you from having fun

January 1st, 2004, 02:16 AM
Originally posted by Perkunas
But in terms of insulating against colder temperatures, how much does a wet suit really help?

That's exactly what the wetsuit is for. A good one helps a great deal preventing heatloss.
On that note, I don't use one, and I don't swim in cold waters either.
I've used wetsuits for other things, like waterskiing, diving etc... slightly different type than swimming wetsuits, but they certainly do help you with staying warm.

February 12th, 2004, 05:28 PM
If competing in a FINA sanctioned meet, wetsuits are not permitted. The use of grease is at the discretion of the referree.
Wetsuits for swimmers/triathletes are now incredibly scientifically designed. More and more new stlyes emerging. Now there is much more shoulder movement and flexibility around the shoulder and back area for better swimming technique, and less chaffing as a result.
Too often I see new triathletes relying on the buoyancy factor of the suit. Many times swim training is the least most trained and technique and triaining specificity is not adequate. Understanding how balance and swimming efficiency is achieved is also missing.
A wetsuit does add buoyancy and therefore changes the angle the hand will enter the water. Head position and balance is also affected.
Head position and body balance is affected with sighting, and in rough water. A wetsuit may help keep you float better, but it cannot alter and help with body balance and efficiency in technique.
Perhaps that is why many proficient swimmers who don't wear wetsuits do so well in these swims. (And think of the transition time saved;)
It is important that a person who has chosen to wear a wetsuit trains a lot in it. I have seen preventable injuries from inadequate training in the equipment they will use on race day.
"To motivate, add water"
"Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision"