Getting the perfect size wetsuit for open water swimming is quite an art form, we’ve put these tips together to help you get the wetsuit on correctly and to get the fit right first time.
Fit is everything with a swimming wetsuit – too tight and you’ll feel restricted, too big and you’ll be pulling gallons of water around with you. Most swimmers err on the side of caution and buy a wetsuit that is too big for them and are left with a suit that is very inefficient at keeping them warm (due to the constant flushing of water through the suit), saps their energy (water weighs 1kg/litre and is a heavy weight to pull about inside a wetsuit) and is uncomfortable as the extra fabric often causes chaffing around the armpits and neck.
Modern swimming wetsuits are made with such good neoprene, with incredible flex characteristics, that for most people the ideal fit is very close like a ‘second skin’. Exceptions to this rule could be swimmers who may can feel claustrophobic in a close fitting suit.
Wetsuit size charts vary across different brands and every manufacturer has different fitting specifications that apply to their range of wetsuits so:
1) Ask around and do your research on the fit of the particular brand you are interested in – ask friends and other swimmers at events, your swim coach or an experienced retailer who knows what they are talking about (they will have fitted wetsuits to hundreds of different swimmers, of all shapes and sizes and should know their wetsuit sizes inside out).
2) Two important areas of fit are around the neck seal and the torso. The neck needs to stop water flushing through and the torso should be snug enough to reduce cold spots. There should be no excess neoprene in the suit e.
3) There should be no excess neoprene in the suit such as the arms, groin and shoulders. For more information see ‘How to put on a swim wetsuit‘.
4) Go for the best quality swimming wetsuit that you can afford they will be more flexible, buoyant and the fit is much better the more flexible the neoprene. The features will be designed to help you swim faster and more efficiently in open water. The amount of fun you can have per pound spent is very high compared to other sports!
5) You could check out the wetsuit size charts, but do remember these are a guide only and fit depends on the body shape and torso length within those height and weight sizes. Its always better to get a wetsuit fitting from a specialist retailer (such as Swim the Lakes).
The wetsuits we have selected for our range at Swim the Lakes are all there for a good reason and we think that they are the best available on the market for each particular price-point. We are a big fan of BlueSeventy wetsuits because they really are designed for swimmers, they have sensible prices, a great range of sizes (for Men and Women) and last but not least, they have a great build quality and exceptional after-sales service.