Your Questions About Best Wetsuit For Weak Swimmers

Nancy asks…

I am doing my first triathlon in a month?

I can’t afford a full body wetsuit. all I have here is a longsleeve wetsuit top. Will that do?

Mike Rich answers:

It depends. What is the water temperature likely to be?

If it’s too cold for you to swim without a wetsuit, then by all means wear it! It will keep your core warm even if your legs are getting cold. I would recommend buying a neoprene hood to wear under your swim cap. They aren’t very expensive but will keep your head warm. I do a lot of open water swimming in cold water (under 60F) and usually wear a neoprene cap and just a regular swim suit –though this takes some practice to get adjusted to!

If you are not worried about the water being too cold for you to swim in without a wetsuit, then I would not bother with it. The wetsuit will restrict your arm movement while not giving you the benefit of lifting your hips like a fullbody suit would. The reasons triathletes wear wetsuits are to a) stay warm and b) keep their hips up since they often are relatively weak swimmers with poor body position/technique. So, wearing a wetsuit on top only can actually lift your shoulders up more, which will result in dropping your hips more –this is the opposite of how you want to swim. You do not want to drag your hips through the water like a barge. You want to float them up to the surface as much as possible.

In short, if you won’t be too cold, leave the top-half wetsuit at home.

Either way, you should be able to save time in your first transition over folks wearing a full wetsuit!

I’m a swimmer who just started doing triathlons myself. I saved up my money to buy a road bike, so I couldn’t afford a wetsuit either. I borrowed one from a friend for a couple of really cold water early-springtime practice swims. I hated wearing the wetsuit (but was happy for the warmth). I’m glad I spent my money on the bike instead. The triathlons I’ve done were in water warm enough for me to leave the wetsuit at home.

Best of luck to you in your first tri!

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