The great thing about wetsuits is that they feel like a second skin and this is precisely why they are so effective in the water. In this Wiggle guide, triathlete Paul Newsome offers his top tips for putting on and taking off your wetsuit. Having a sound technique is key to making sure you don't damage your wetsuit especially when you have to remove it in race conditions.
How to put on a wetsuit
Lubrication: First of all ensure all movement areas (knees, arm pits/shoulders and neck) receive a good helping of lubrication to a) assist the wetsuit going on b) prevent chaffing during swimming and c) help get the wetsuit off. Do not use Vaseline however, this will damage the wetsuit. A fantastic lubricant to use is Bodyglide skin formula.
Positioning: Make sure your wetsuit is the correct way around – the zipper is supposed to go on the back!
Feet: Keep your socks on (or wrap a plastic bag around your feet) – this will help your feet go into the wetsuit with as little fuss as possible.
Gently pull up: Carefully pull the wetsuit up over your legs and up to your waist – do not pull to hard or you will risk damaging the suit. Also avoid sharp objects and finger nails.
Snug fit: When pulling it up to your waist, ensure that the fit is snug and that there are no creases in the wetsuit around the movement areas – i.e. back of the knees and waist.
Arms: Continue to pull the wetsuit up over your body and place your arms through the sleeves, again making sure it is snug and that there are no creases, especially around the shoulders.
Zip up: Do up the zipper and the Velcro at the back – get used to doing this yourself because it will help you getting used to reaching behind you to undo it after the swim leg.
Freedom of movement: Finally, do not be surprised in how snug the fit is – it is supposed to be, so don’t be surprised if it feels a bit tight! However, still make sure you can move freely in it.
How to take off a wetsuit (after the swim leg of a race):
Act fast: After exiting the swim, the faster you start to take off the wetsuit, the easier it will be. This is because the water currently contained within the wetsuit will act as a lubrication helping the suit slide off faster.
Zip down: Reach round for the zip and pull down fully.
Cap/Goggles off: Take your goggles and swimming cap off and place them into your right or left hand.
Arms out: Then with your empty hand pull the sleeve of the suit and get the opposite arm out of the suit, releasing and leaving your goggles in there. After this quickly grab the sleeve of the opposite sleeve with your now free hand and pull the other arm through and out of the wetsuit.
Waist down: Pull the wetsuit down to your waist whilst running into transition (but not any further as you will not be able to run!).
Bike transition:Once you reach your bike, pull the wetsuit down as far as possible and kick/stand on it to ensure you get the thing off.
Right place, right time! Make sure you place your wetsuit in your allotted space – any time penalties for such a silly thing is really unnecessary and totally avoidable.