Taking the necessary care and attention when putting on a triathlon wetsuit is vital to ensure high performance and long-lasting durability.
If you're a triathlon or open water swimmer, not putting your wetsuit on correctly will likely cause you major problems, either in the water or in the bank account!
A poorly-fitting wetsuit, or one that has been put on incorrectly, is likely to restrict your range of motion in the water, so you can't use your legs or arms to full effect.
As a result, your speed and performance will be adversely affected, and you'll be using up more strength and energy during your swim.
Also, by not taking the necessary care when putting a wetsuit on, it's very easy to nick or tear the neoprene material and cause expensive damage.
To make sure you get the most out of your triathlon wetsuit, we've put together this handy guide with top tips on how to put on a wetsuit properly. Follow this advice to avoid any unwanted damages and to make sure you maximise your performance in the open water.
How to put on a wetsuit properly in 7 simple steps
1) Be careful not to snag the neoprene wetsuit material
It is vital throughout each stage of putting on a wetsuit to protect the neoprene material.
Always try to put on or take off your swimming wetsuit on a clean and flat surface. If you're standing on rocks or stones, or other rough and jagged surfaces, the suit could easily get damaged.
Be extra careful if you're wearing jewellry or a watch. These could easily snag the wetsuit and tear it while you're putting it on.
Only use your fingertips when putting your suit on. Finger nails could easily nick the material. You can wear gloves or use fingertip pads if you're worried.
2) Put your wetsuit on feet first
The best way to put a wetsuit on is by putting in one foot at a time. Place your first foot inside, and carefully pull up the neoprene inch by inch.
Don't rush and try to do it in one go, as you could risk damaging the wetsuit. Take your time, working the suit slowly over your foot until it is about one inch above the ankle.
Once you can put your foot fully on the floor, with no part of the wetsuit between your heel and the ground, you can repeat the process with the other foot.
If you're finding it difficult to slide your foot through smoothly, some swimmers recommend putting them on with your socks on, or with a carrier bag wrapped around your foot.
3) Gradually work the wetsuit up over your legs
Continue to work the neoprene slowly up each leg, alternating between legs at regular intervals so the wetsuit is climbing the body at a consistent level on each side.
Move it up over your hips, and then into the crotch as high as you can. Make sure the suit's knees or kneepads are aligned perfectly with your knees.
This process should be followed thoroughly, so the wetsuit fits snugly. If there are any large fabric wrinkles, keep going to smooth them out. Behind the knees is a common place to find these wrinkles.
4) Check arm and shoulder flexibility
Once your suit is in position from the waist down, you can concentrate on your arms, one at a time. Throughout the process, make sure there is no twist in the material along your arms.
Put your first arm in, and gradually inch the sleeve up your arm, taking the same amount of care as you did with your legs.
Once you can get your shoulder into the wetsuit safely, hoist it up into your underarm as high as you can possibly get it.
Repeat the process with the second arm. Make sure you have the maximum amount of flexibility and range of movement for both arms and shoulders, as this will be vital to your performance in the water.
5) Work up any excess neoprene for a snug fit
With your arms and shoulders in, turn your attention to working any excess neoprene up through the body, into the chest and shoulder area.
Make sure you've got the wetsuit up as high as you possibly can, and that your shoulders are in comfortably, then get it around your neck and pull it up.
As before, remember to be careful with your fingernails as this is where you can easily nick the material. Only use your fingertips, or wear gloves or fingertip pads if you're in any doubt.
There may still be some excess neoprene on the body to sort out. Bend over from the middle, and work any of this excess material up towards the neck.
6) Do up your wetsuit zipper correctly
If possible, get someone else to do your zipper up. It puts less stress on the zip, and also reduces the risk of it snagging your neoprene.
If you're on your own, take the cord and use a slow and steady motion to pull it closed. Yanking can easily damage the material or the rubber seams.
Ensure your suit is fully zipped up, so that the wetsuit's neckline is pressed directly against your skin. Make sure the flap on your neck is laying flat to your body, then take your cord, attach it to the velcro, and close the flap over it.
7) Check your triathlon wetsuit fits properly
Once your wetsuit is fully on, take a moment to double-check that everything fits ok. You want to feel comfortable, and also see that the suit has a snug fit.
Walk around and perform some squats to make sure your leg movement isn't restricted, then do the same with your arms.
You can mimic swimming strokes in the air to make sure you have freedom of movement, and also remember to check your underarms to be sure there are no major gaps.
Video Guide Showing How To Put On A Wetsuit Properly
The guys at Blueseventy have released a helpful video showing step by step how you should put on a swimming wetsuit correctly.
Watch the video to see a step-by-step demonstration of how to put on your triathlon wetsuit correctly and safely.