Rap on Wetsuits in Triathlon Revisited:
Race Day Tips
A list of tips and
strategies regarding the triathlon wetsuit for the
triathlete on race day
Hazen Kent -
In response to the ongoing questions regarding wetsuits
in the sport of triathlon,
I decided to write a follow up article to the original
“Rap on Wetsuits.”
I realized after posting the original article,
there was still a good deal of information that was not
information below will hopefully answer some of these
The following is a list of tips and strategies regarding
the wetsuit that I have learned over the years that may
be of some help to you as you approach your upcoming
training with your wetsuit: By all means, give your wetsuit
a “sea trial”. In fact, I encourage it. Go ahead and
take a dip in the pool, lake or ocean with your wetsuit
on and swim a few strokes. It will help you develop a
feel for swimming while wearing this new rubber
contraption. It will probably feel funky for some of
you, but fear not. Even when you think you are dragging
in the water, you will actually be swimming faster.
I do not suggest you wear it during your swim
training on a consistent basis. Once is enough. In fact, wearing your wetsuit during a normal swim workout
could be dangerous. As we approach the summer month’s
water temperatures will rise and the possibility of
dehydration and even overheating is very real. Besides,
you will always have time before the start of a race to
hop in the water and get in an easy warm-up.
very careful pulling on your wetsuit: Typically, the wetsuit rubber is
very "tender" and can tear very easily. If you pull too hard on the wetsuit with your fingers, you
could wind up pulling out small pieces of the rubber.
How do I know this? I have done it. I usually do the
from the bottom and slowly pull” routine similar to
putting on a pair of long socks.
to put on your wetsuit when wet or sweaty:
Attempting to put on your wetsuit when wet or sweaty can
be very difficult. And such situations usually occur the
morning of the race. Often times, folks will take a dip
in the water before the race and warm-up without the
wetsuit. If you do you will need to towel dry before
attempting to put your wetsuit on.
When would you possibly put a wetsuit on when you
are sweaty? Again, just before a race and after your
Most of us warm-up before a race with a jog, or a
spin on the bicycle.
Inevitably, as our body temperature rises, so
does our level of perspiration.
This will make it extremely difficult to slip the
wetsuit on and could lead to excessive pulling on the
suit and possible tearing.
If you do insist on warming up with a jog or bike
spin, take a quick dip in the water to cool you off then
towel dry. As we approach the summer months, certain
areas of the country typically experience high humidity
and the early mornings can become very damp. Even normal
walking can cause you to perspire. The reason being, the
air is so full of moisture, evaporation is minimal and
you perspiration basically has no place to go. In these
situations you will find it difficult to pull the
wetsuit on. Again, towel dry as best you can prior to
slipping the wetsuit on.
But keep an eye on the situation. If the race is
a larger event, with the transition area located in a
hotel parking lot, grab your wetsuit and head on inside
the air-conditioned hotel lobby.
When you cool off…pull her on.
Again, I have done this!
It may be a good idea to pack an extra towel in
your diddy bag as well.
TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR WETSUIT ON…AND
IF YOU CAN'T...MAKE YOURSELF! I am not kidding here
folks. I have almost missed the start of a race because
of this. Even if you typically go to the bathroom first
thing in the morning, you will have to go again. And if
luck prevails, it will be right before the start of the
race. Therefore, use the port-a-potty at the race and do
so BEFORE you put on your wetsuit!
caused by the wetsuit: Perhaps the most susceptible spot on the body for
wetsuit chafing is the neck area. Other areas may
include those where the wetsuit trim is in contact with
the skin, such as under the arms on a sleeveless suit.
And the best way to prevent chafing is by
applying a salve or ointment to these areas of contact
after putting on the wetsuit.
However, and at the risk of sounding redundant,
do not use a petroleum-based jelly. It could eat through
your wetsuit. I
use KY Jelly…it is water based. You can pick it up at
any drug store. Some folks will also apply a small
amount of salve around the ankles to help when slipping
the suit. I
have even heard of individuals who spray PAM around the
foot, ankle and calf area for the same reasons. This
step is up to you. Do what works for you!
off the Wetsuit after the swim: Upon exiting the water during
the swim portion of the triathlon, pull off your goggles
and cap, and then immediately grab your zipper chord
from behind and unzip your wetsuit. While running
towards your bicycle, begin pulling your arms out of the
sleeves so by the time you reach your bike, the upper
portion of your wetsuit is gathered at the waist. Once
at your bike, pull the wetsuit down around your ankles
and step out of it as best you can. This is where the
salve or PAM may help.
wetsuit care: Finally, hose off your wetsuit after the race
especially if the swim was in salt water. However, even
if the swim is in fresh water, it won't hurt to hose her
down. Then hang her up in the shower. She will drip dry.
And that is all folks!
If you have some tips that I have left out,
please let me know so we can add them to the list. Until
then, Good luck at the races!