How to Put on a Swimming Wetsuit

Getting the perfect size wetsuit for open water swimming and triathlon is quite an art form, plus you also need a leap of faith in how close fitting your wetsuit needs to be, we’ve put these tips together to help you get the wetsuit on correctly and the fit right first time.

The most important point is to get a close fitting wetsuit, there is no point making your swim harder by dragging gallons of water around with you in your wetsuit, your arms and shoulders will ache, your time will be slower and you simply won’t enjoy it as much.

Do you want to enjoy your swim? yes? Good, then on dry land your wetsuit will feel tight, it should be a struggle to get into and you may need assistance to do the zip up, until you get the knack.

Wetsuit size charts vary across different brands, so ask around and do your research on the fit of the particular brand. Go for a good quality swimming wetsuit they will be more flexible, buoyant and the fit and features will be designed to help you swim faster and better in open water.

We’ve picked BlueSeventy wetsuits for our showroom, they have a great heritage for fit, flexibility and quality specification.

So you’ve done your research for the right size swimming wetsuit and you’ve got one. Next we look at how to put your wetsuit on correctly.

A correctly fitted wetsuit should not pull on your arms or neck but should move and flex with you, as far as the neoprene allows. It should feel comfortable and aid your swimming performance.

10 Tips For Fitting Swimming Wetsuits

1) Change into the swimwear that you intend to wear under your suit and remove any jewellery and watches before fitting the wetsuit

2) Handle your wetsuit carefully, use gloves if you’re trying it on for the first time to protect the suit from your fingernails. Wetsuits often come with cotton gloves or use a pair of Marigolds.

3) With the zip at the back, put your foot into one of the legs of the suit and pull it up your leg, pulling from below the knee, gradually moving the excess neoprene upwards. When past the knee put the other leg in and repeat, moving the neoprene up from the bottom of your leg towards the top.

The trick is to get the wetsuit as high up your legs as possible before you start pulling it up your body. A good tip is to put plastic bags on your feet, then as you put your feet in your wetsuit legs the wetsuit will easily slide up your legs.
The bottom of your wetsuit legs need to be a good 2 or 3 inches up your legs and just on the bottom of your calf.

4) Continue to pull the wetsuit up over the hips and bum, ensure a close fit around the groin with no sagging gusset.

5) Now pull the wetsuit up your body to do the same with the arms as you did with your legs.

Put one arm in the suit and move the neoprene sleeve back up your arm. With the wetsuit sleeve edge back behind your wrist bone, gradually move neoprene back working from your wrist to your shoulders. Getting it right into your arm pits. Once past the elbow put your other arm in it’s sleeve and repeat.

6) Take your time, this helps avoid suit damage and aids getting a good fit.
Get your assistant to zip you up as you sand up straight and flex your shoulders back wards.  When pulling the zip up you may want to hold the bottom of the zip to make the zipper run easier.

Fasten the Velcro neck seal.

7) Now make small adjustments to the suit  if necessary to improve the fit and flexibility.

Bend over slightly forwards and gently pull the neoprene from your stomach upwards a bit at a time towards you neck. This lifts the wetsuit up your front and lowers the back to stop it pulling and reduce chafing on the neck. Ensure the neck and zip neoprene is lying flat too, a common cause of chafing.

8) Ideally your wetsuit should feel compressive, but not restrictive on dry land. Leave the suit on for at least 10mins while the neoprene begins to relax and you get a better idea of fit.
A close fitting swimming wetsuit will not restrict your swimming stroke if you have picked a good quality swim wetsuit it will move with you.
In the water you want a close fit, if not too much water can enter and fill your suit. This is not good.

9) Two areas where the fit needs to be right is the torso length and the waist. If the suit is too long and /or baggy on the waist, water collects here as you swim and this is not good. A good way to tell if it’s too big at the waist is to try grabbing the wetsuit at the base of the zip, just in the small of the back, if you can grab  a few inches easily it could be too big.

10) Lastly getting the wetsuit off: Your wetsuit might fit closely but for triathlons you also need to get it off quickly. Its easier when the suits are wet so don’t despair. Never use Vaseline or oils to lubricate, use a product like Body Glide, which will not harm the neoprene.  Rub Body Glide on you wrists and lower Calf’s before putting your wetsuit on for swift wetsuit removal.

Unzip the suit fully, peel of the shoulder and pull each arm out, peeling the wetsuit inside out in the process. Peel the suit off like a banana leaving it inside out.

We really recommend getting a proper fitting by a specialist retailer. Swim the Lakes were the first retailer to offer a wetsuit fitting service,  we’ll always offer you honest and practical advice and do our best to get you rthe perfect fitting swimming wetsuit.

We run Try-On events throughout the spring, alternatively book a wetsuit fitting at our Ambleside store today.


Related Links:

Shop BlueSeventy Wetsuits 

Article Open Water Swimming Guide 

Blueseventy Wetsuit Size Chart 

Wetsuit Fitting Service