Getting set for the start of the open water swim of your local triathlon is easy, right?
Many of us know the basics of wetsuit wear: put it on, zip it up, swim. But there’s a few little secret tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years to make your wetsuit swim experience a bit easier. Below are five of our favorites.
1. Grocery Getter Socks
It’s always a wrestling match getting the suit up past your hips—that’s your cross to bear. But getting it up your legs, and over your calves and heels, we’ve got help, in the most innocuous form: a plastic grocery bag.
When you’re done bringing home the eggs and bread, throw two or three in your race bag, with your wetsuit. Why? When you’re at the race venue (or at the beach/lakeside/riverside for open-water swim practice) just put your feet in ‘em like socks—then pull on your wetsuit. Without the friction of your skin, sweat, etc. creating resistance, the suit will pull right up….to your thighs. It’s on you from there!
We know that some municipalities are ruling them out (since they’re not as earth-friendly as some bagging options), making them hard to find. If you’ve got some, hang on to ‘em. (And bring your own bags to the grocery store!)
2. Nip your Nails
Because they’re made to move smoothly over water without exposed jersey material (which, found in surfing wetsuits and some lower quality triathlon wetsuits) is less flexible and slows you down. Quintana Roo uses the finest Yamamoto rubbers with SCS coating, which not only helps make the suit faster, it makes it more resistant to tearing.
But like all top-shelf triathlon wetsuits, it’s not impervious. To reduce the chances of putting a nick or a larger hole in your suit’s rubber, cut your nails back, and file them down so there are no hard edges that can catch the rubber and create an opening for a hole.
Further to that, rather than using your fingers to pull, use them to pinch; grab a handful of suit between your thumb and forefinger, and lever the strength of your hand behind it to pull up the suit, rather than digging with your fingers. With a broader area, you reduce the chances of tearing your suit a lot.
And as always, take your time; get the back of the leg, then the front. Alternate to the opposite leg. Once they’re up and the suit is hiked nicely into the crotch, move to the arms, again one at a time, one arm overhead, using the pinching method to walk it up and onto the body.
3. GPS Access
We’ve seen every variety of attachment methods of your wrist-based GPS watch at the start of a race; under the wetsuit, strapped over it, you name it. But because GPS relies on a clear view to the skies and the satellites that help them track you), there’s one failsafe way to have your GPS unit and wetsuit coexist… and actually connect when the gun goes off: by having the suit edge and watch edge match up.
We suggest hiking up the arm of your wetsuit to just past where your watch rests—and tucking the last millimeter or two of wetsuit under the watch, to ensure the wetsuit's edge doesn't accidentally depress any function mode buttons.
By applying a smear of wetsuit lube to the outer edge of the wetsuit along the top of the forearm, you provide it a bit of grease to slide over the watch when taking it off in T1 as well.
4. Pre-Soak your Suit
If you’re a long drink between races… give your wetsuit a drink as well!
If your wetsuit has been stashed for an extended period of time (over the offseason, or for months after your last race), the neoprene jersey inside the will dry out and become stiff. The solution is to soak your suit a few days before you use it.
Fill your tub (or deep-basin sink, outdoor bucket, horse trough) with water. Then turn your suit inside-out, and push your suit down for 30 seconds or more. That’s enough time for the suit’s interior jersey—and its fibers—to take up the water. Once dry, the jersey become more pliable, and moves better with your body once it’s on you and you’re in the swim.
5.It’s All in the Hips
What’s the best way to have a great, unrestricted overhead reach? It all starts at the hips.
When pulling on your wetsuit, be sure to take your time and ensure you’ve hiked the legs snugly into the crotch. By ensuring the lower half of the suit is firmly set (with no gapping at the crotch, etc.) you’re allowing the upper half of the suit—specifically the arms and underarm gusset— to go onto the body without added stretch from the lower half of the suit.
With the rubber in the upper half of the suit slack, you’ll pull on the suit with a bit more work (since the lower half of the suit isn’t providing resistance), but once the suit’s upper half is on, you’ll find your overhead reach (and most importantly your stroke) is unrestricted. And that, my friends, is the key to a fantastic swim.
With these secret tips, you’ll have a little inside track for wetsuit swim day, making your experience a bit easier, faster and more fun!
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