Tag Archives: Tri Wetsuits

Open Water Swimming in Triathlon

The shortest leg of the race in triathlon is often funny enough, the most feared. By far, you’re certainly the least out-of-control of your surrounding environment in this leg, which can allow for the capability to put a nice damper on your time. Most triathlons take place in some kind of a body of open water, so assuming your pool skills will transfer right over isn’t the case, and often times, can be dangerous. There’s many tips that can be followed to keep yourself safe, and drop seconds to minutes on your swim. We spend tons of money on gadgets, wheels, aero-dynamic and light-weight everything to save seconds and minutes, so why not take the time to practice open-water techniques for the swim? Below are some triathlon swim tips.

Pool Swimming

Pool heaters, a line to follow, lanes to keep our flailing bodies in, and visibility as far down as the eye can see. What’s not to like about training in a pool? Well, it’s not a realistic representation of the race environment. Certainly, it’s great for things such as speed-work and interval training, but it needs to be used in conjunction with your open water training. We’re not required to lift our head up in a pool to see where we’re going, or to modify our breathing according to surprise waves smacking us over the head, and if we get tired, oh boy! …a nice wall or lane line to grab onto won’t be there. Certain aspects of oceans and lakes call for specific gear, technique, and safety measures. Train to increase your conditioning, practice being in the environment to get you mentally prepared for the elements.

Necessary Equipment

So you’ve been training in the pool and want to venture into a lake, river, or ocean swim. Where do you begin? Most people do fine with some swim goggles, some find that a wider-lens goggle allows them to spot better in the open water. Here’s an example:

Wetsuit? Or no triathlon wetsuit? You’ll find at your triathlon races, about 95% (depending on temperature) of triathletes will be in wetsuits. Your first idea about this is probably that they’re wearing them to keep warm. Swim purists are strictly against this notion of wearing neoprene to swim. I myself was one as well, until I saw friends who I was lapping in the pool beating me in the open water. Not gonna fly. Tri wetsuits will give you quite the advantage. Sure they’ll keep you warmer than not having one, but they’re designed to make you more buoyant and reduce your drag. This allows you to conserve power, thus saving you energy and making for a faster time. My advice: get one.

Chaffing. It’s painful and unnecessary, but has a strong likelihood of happening with your tri wetsuit if some kind of a lubricant is not used. The chaffing will most likely happen around the neck, but there’s a few areas we strongly recommend as well to put the lube. Below are the two options, BodyGlide and TRISlide.

TRISLIDE

Body Glide

Both will protect against chaffing, and also aid in getting the wetsuit off quickly. We suggest putting it around your ankles, wrists, and neck prior to putting on the wetsuit before training and races.

Now that you have the necessary gear, there’s a few things you should consider prior to your open water swim training. It’s best to be checking the swells and currents prior to when you’ll be swimming if you’ll be swimming in the ocean. In a recent race I did at the Camp Pendleton Sprint Tri, the starting wave did not take note of the strong current and swam an additional 200-500 yards at least. Those that caught on and realized they needed to start their swim further down to avoid fighting a current, were able to gain a few hundred yards (which equates to at least a 2-5 minute lead) HUGE.

For Your Safety..

If you’re not an experienced swimmer, trying to get past the waves (or break) will be almost impossible if it’s a large wave day, and incredibly dangerous. Check to see if there is a lifeguard on duty if possible, who will quickly notify you of any potential dangers such as undertows or rip currents. If you do have a higher anxiety about open water swimming, choosing a day when there’s greater visibility out in the water (usually on a sunnier day) is certainly a smart idea. If the ocean seems far too terrifying, I would highly recommend swimming in some kind of bay or lake if you can access one. There’s fewer possibilities of potential anxiety triggers, and will serve as a great way to segue you into unprotected open water swims. It’s incredibly important when you’re getting into any body of water to not go alone. You never know what’s going to happen in the water. As an example, a fellow friend of mine was swimming in the bay when an unsuspecting 10 foot wood oar split his head open from a boater. He luckily had friends to drive him to the hospital. With that said, there’s a reason fish swim in schools. So should you!

Specific Open Water Techniques for Racing

Where the heck do you put yourself in the start of the swim pack? Before you answer, consider this: Would you hop in the fast lane on a 5-lane freeway going 45 and expect to not get honked at, tail gated, or dirty looks? Probably not. The swim isn’t a good idea to do this either. Line up according to your ability. Fast swimmer? Jump to the front. Let’s just say if you’re swimming a sub 7 or sub 6 minute 500 yard time, you’d do fine at the front. Mediocre swimmer? Get to the middle. Consider this the equivalent of how people stagger themselves at 5k’s and marathon starts. It’s also smart to place yourself on the outskirts of the pack, not directly in the center. If swimming isn’t exactly your caveat, stay towards the back. You’ll thank yourself later. You will avoid unwanted kicks and elbows this way. Once you’ve figured out how to place yourself, let’s think about how you’re going to get yourself through the waves, or from the sand to the water. With a technique known as dolphin diving, getting through the shallower water and under the waves will save you time and energy (and maybe a few waves to the dome). Below you can find a perfect example of how to do this. I do not recommend doing this if you’re a beginner in very shallow water (let’s say, below the knees). Once you become more familiar with this type of diving, you can utilize it in shallower waters, but I wouldn’t recommend it until you get a better grasp. This method is often used in lake swims as well.

Once you’re past the waves or initial start of the swim, you’ll feel pretty crowded. In the majority of open water swims, the wave of people you start with will spread out within the first few minutes. The only race I’ve participated in that this is not the case is an Ironman. The Ironman Arizona swim will never throughout the 2.4 miles of swimming, spread out. Back to the point. Most races will. You’ll begin to feel synced with your stroke. However, it is IMPERATIVE you are looking up. This is what we call “spotting” in open water. Everyone will tell you differently on how often you should be raising your head to see where you are, but I say a good rule of thumb would be every 10-30 strokes, depending on how experienced with this you are. Most triathlons will have you swimming in some kind of twisted triangle or rectangle similar to the one pictured below:

There will be buoys marking the corners, which are what we’ll call your trackers. They’re huge and brightly colored. You need to make sure you’re staying in line with these trackers, by picking up your head to see where you’re going. The only reason you swim in a straight line in the pool is because of the fat solid black line you swim on top of to keep you in check. It’s a good idea to practice spotting in a pool, or at least practice in open water prior to racing. You can easily add on a few hundred yards or more depending on how long your swim is if you’re not spotting the buoys. You also might swim yourself into a nice kayak, which are often conveniently located right in the middle of the line of swimmers. I myself have smacked my head hard on one of these puppies and proceeded to blame it on the nice kayak volunteer for being in my way. Point being, look up. The example above is of a lake swim. Most ocean swims will have you swimming parallel to shore, which means you’ll have the waves at your back coming in. Body surfing these in and beginning to dolphin dive once it’s about waist deep can save you some precious time.

Key Points To Take Away…

  • Pools aren’t a substitute for open water
  • Get the necessary gear to make your life easier for open water swimming
  • DO NOT swim alone or at least tell someone on shore you’re swimming and to keep an eye out
  • Learn how to study your surroundings; know the currents and swells
  • Place yourself correctly at the start of the swim start in a triathlon
  • Learn what spotting and dolphin diving are and how to utilize them (know your swim course as well)
  • Enjoy it! Stay calm, and remember why you started it all in the first place

Further Guides to Help:

Sleeved Wetsuit or Sleeveless?

Choosing the Right Triathlon Wetsuit

Printable Triathlon Gear Checklist

What to Wear Under a Triathlon Wetsuit

The question of, “What am I supposed to be wearing underneath my tri wetsuit?” is undoubtedly the most asked in the shop. The idea of wearing clothing underneath neoprene,  seems odd to many first-time triathletes. In reality, you can’t tell a difference underneath your wetsuit, and will save quite a bit of time by swimming in what you will be racing in. Essentially you wear whatever it is you’ll be competing in underneath. Often times, it’s the same clothing that you’ve been training ever so hard in over the course of the past months/weeks. With that said, triathletes have a couple of options as to what they choose to wear underneath their tri wetsuit. There’s two main types of race apparel: a trisuit, or a top with tri shorts.

Option 1:

Why a trisuit?

Racing in a one-piece can certainly be convenient. You’re simply wearing one article of clothing, not two, and thus don’t have to really worry about your shirt riding up and revealing anything not wanting to be revealed (muffins perhaps?) Most trisuits also have a zipper as well as  built-in-bra for additional support. Some trisuits, depending on the brand, have side or back pockets as well, which are perfect for storing those gu’s. Negatives? Certainly, if you have to use the restroom during your race. I recommend one-pieces to those participating in shorter distances such as sprints, or olympics. It is not particularly ideal to get out of this puppy when you’re in a rush to use the facilities during a longer race.

Option 2:

Why a two piece?

I find more athletes tend to gravitate towards wearing a triathlon top and triathlon short as separates. This could be that people are simply a bit weary of the one-piece, and in many cases have never seen one before. Wearing separates offers the ease of potentially more pockets for storing your goodies. Some tops are more of a singlet style with zip up in the front (like the one pictured), whereas some are a racerback style. When wearing two pieces, you have the option of changing up styles, coloring and brands. For example, if you like the feeling of a looser fitting top, and a short that’s a particular length, (most range from 4″ to 8″ for women) wearing two pieces offers a bit more variability. This option tends to be the better choice for the longer distances.

Other options:

Some athletes choose to wear no top under their wetsuit for the swim (or in a woman’s case, just her sport bra) and then put on their top once they reach transition. This can be a difficult task to do, as you will be wet and will be adding additional time to your race.  There have been those to wear a one-piece bathing suit underneath their wetsuit (Speedos or jammers in the case of men) underneath their wetsuit and do their race in just that. This is an option, although not the most comfortable.

For the triathlons where the swim portion takes place in a pool, the trisuit may be the better option, as a loose-fitting top could easily create drag. Most triathlon apparel is composed of a lycra blend, meaning it’s quick to dry, and barely noticeable while racing. If you’re wondering what to use for strictly training purposes, most simply wear their swim suits or, for men, jammers.

Any of these options will work,  it depends upon what you’re more comfortable wearing. The cardinal rule is to race in what you’ve been training in. Choosing to wear new race apparel can lead to the awful surprise of new-found seams and possible chaffing.

These are the variations of questions that I get.
What do I wear in a triathlon?
What do I wear under my wetsuit?
What do I wear under my tri wetsuit?

Blue Seventy Axis Review


Oh swimming. With 85% of triathletes coming from a running, cycling, or other background, it’s no wonder so many people fear this leg of the race the most. If  swimming isn’t your strength, Blue Seventy has an answer. The Axis. Blue Seventy has recognized the fact that there’s different needs for different types of swimmers. Some athletes have denser leg compositions due to established thigh muscles and dense calves. Many of these swimmers tend to drop their lower half in the water. Thus, the Axis was innovated with balanced buoyancy zones. This suit in particular focuses higher buoyancy in the hips, thighs and lower legs. This helps to elevate the lower body, creating a more streamlined position in the water, and more efficient stroke for the swimmer.

The Blue Seventy Axis was also designed with Femme Fit, a design unique for women, designed by blue seventy. This fit is designed with a woman’s shapes, curves and all skill levels taken into mind. There should never be a one-cut fits all wetsuit on the market. Clearly, a woman’s body is shaped differently, and wetsuits should reflect this. Here are the differences:

  • Lowered neckline
  • Extended zipper length to accommodate wider hips, and in aiding exiting and entering suit
  • Slimmer, 1.5mm thick arms to allow for higher stroke cadence
  • Re-design of suit in bust and torso area (women tend to have shorter torsos)
  • A wider range of sizes to choose from (7 to be exact) from XS to Large Athena
  • 360-flex reach panels to create supreme flexibility and arm maneuverability

With all of this said, I hear over and over within wetsuit sales, “I need all the help I can get in the water and I’m not a strong swimmer. Which wetsuit do you recommend?”

The Axis it is.

TYR Hurricane Category 5 Wetsuit Review

TYR Hurricane Category 5

Over the weekend, I was looking at my Facebook feed and saw some photos from Age Group Nationals in Vermont.  What floored me a bit was the fact that so many people were wearing TYR wetsuits, in particular the Cat 5!  Being the inquisitive I am, it warranted further investigation.

The Facts:

  • The wetsuit is made of the highest grade Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene, with 40 where the red stripes are on the shoulders.  This allows for unparalleled flexibility.
  • A higher cut on the legs makes this suit extremely easy to put on and take off.
  • The wetsuit itself was designed with valuable input from pros such as Andy Potts.
  • Over 30 of the top triathletes switched to the Hurricane before it even launched.  To name a few, Chrissie Wellington, Andy Potts, Mirinda Carfrae, Hilary Biscay.
  • Graded force catch panels – Thick graded panels are strategically aligned on the forearm to allow a catch and pull stroke like a built-in paddle.

The Swim

  • Shoulders feel great
  • Core stabilization feature is impressive.  The material that ends up wrapping around your core seems to separate the rest of your body, to ensure a proper swim form.

Taking it Off

  • Taking off the Hurricane Cat 5 was pretty easy, especially when it’s wet, thanks to the higher cut on the legs.

TYR makes their Cat 5 as a sleeveless wetsuit as well.  See the rest of the TYR Hurricane Wetsuits.

TYR Hurricane Category 3 Wetsuit

“You’re only as fast as your wetsuit will let you be.”-TYR


With that said, and your money pockets taken into consideration, feast your eyes on the Category 3. TYR’s Hurricane wetsuit series is composed of three tiers (pun intended), 1, 3, and 5. For those that want the primary technologies of the Category 5, but don’t want to spend top dollar, the C3 is the perfect option for a mid range suit. The wetsuit boasts light-weight Yamamoto 38/39 SCS coated neoprene, as well as varying 5mm panels. The high-buoyancy 5mm panels found in the chest, legs, and core were designed to help the swimmer to be elevated in the water and keep the swimmer from dropping their lower half. This feature, known as Speed Wrap Paneling, as well as the ones listed below were carried over from the CAT 5. The only features the Category 3 doesn’t come with when comparing it the 5, are that the entire surface area isn’t 100% Yamamoto Nano SCS rubber, and the inside isn’t lined with soft jersey fabric.

  • Free Range of Motion Zones – Less pinching and constriction, meaning more flexible reach.
  • Form Fitting Wrist Cuffs – Multi-stretch cuffs at the wrist allow powerful strokes while keeping water from entering the suit.
  • Quick Release Ankle Cuffs – Tapered legs allow for a speedy release of the suit without much effort.
  • 360 degree core stabilization system: Creates the sensation of your core feeling a wrap-around support which works to elevate the swimmer, ensuring optimal body position and saving energy over the long-term of the swim.
  • Graded Force Catch Panels: Paneling along forearm allows for greater pull in the water, such as a built-in paddle would.

If you do have an entry-level wetsuit and want to make the upgrade to a mid range suit that’s going to come with all the bells and whistles, the Hurricane Category 3 by TYR is great choice. Check out this wetsuit and many other triathlon wetsuits at One Tri.

Zoot Conduit Review

Last Thursday, I went out for a group swim at Corona Del Mar with some work peeps, and grabbed the Zoot Conduit to use.  I’ve always liked (rather, I hated the least) helping people put this suit on because it is fairly easy to do so.  It has stretchy flex panels, and the arms are thin yet durable to where I’m not afraid to put a puncture through it.

The verdict?!  My thought was… Why would I ever need another suit?  And, what would an extra 200 bucks buy me?!  The suit’s amazing for the price point.  My favorite features are the arms.  Relatively speaking, I’m barely able to notice that I have a giant rubber band wrapping around my body when I’m out swimming.

This suit has the mark of Karen Sing, the queen of neoprene, who is perhaps the most well-known wetsuit designer in the industry.  If you’re a wetsuit nerd, the Conduit, resembles Profile Design’s Marlin in that it also has flex panels through the suit.  It’s no surprise, as Ms. Sing is currently at Profile Design working her magic.

This is a great suit for a “mid-level” price point.  If you’re looking for something better than a base model, the money you spend on this wetsuit is worth every penny.

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

Nineteen Frequency Wetsuit

With awesome flexibility, the Nineteen Frequency Wetsuit features excellent freedom of movement in the upper body,  and delivers the speed and buoyancy where it’s needed.

  • Dual Seal Zipper – unique hidden zipper design features an additional internal seal next to the skin to further reduce water entry.
  • Uncollar – This will make you forget about uncomfortable and restrictive wetsuit collars. With its ultra-thin dual-sided construction and just the right height, you will forget that the suit has a collar.
  • Wingspan System – This is the evolution of Nineteen’s ground breaking flex panel. Now incorporating Yamamoto Cell 40 foam with an all-new ultra-stretch jersey, this 1.5mm panel is contoured around your lats and reaches all the way to your lower back. When combined with high-stretch arms, seamless shoulder construction and more 1.5mm neoprene on the side of your body, the Frequency encourages body roll and a fluid swim stroke — all designed to improve your swim technique.
  • PT Buoyancy Panels – The PT Buoyancy panel puts the most 5mm neoprene where you need it the most, around the hips. This lifts the hips in the water putting your body in the most powerful and hydrodynamic position possible.
  • Easy Off Legs – A very stretchy 2mm stretch panel covers the entire back of the calf allowing for ultra fast leg removal. The Frequency is fast in the water and fast on land.
  • Arm Grips  – These unique silicon seal bands at each wrist will minimize water leakage at this critical point allowing for fast and smooth hand entry and catch.

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

Zoot Conduit Wetsuit Review

I had the joy of swimming in the Zoot Conduit wetsuit, (formerly known as the Synergy), last weekend in an ocean swim. Quite frankly, after experiencing superior range of motion and essentially feeling like Gumby, I came to the conclusion alongside my co-worker that there really shouldn’t be any other triathlon wetsuit on your radar in this price range. That’s a bold statement coming from somebody who comes from a strong swim background and has swum in some of the best wetsuits on the market.

Here are some factuals on the Conduit as to why I most likely came to this wetsuit conclusion:

The tri wetsuit is a combination of 5mm, 4mm, and 1.5mm. What importance is this? The 5mm in the body gives you supreme buoyancy while the 1.5mm in the arms and shoulder makes for unsurpassed flexibility. The grade of neoprene is c39 with scs nano coating, which is on the higher end grade of materials. GLIDEflex panels can be found around the center of the chest where the arms stem away from your sternum, as well as down the ribs and continuing down the side of the legs. This feature is specific to this wetsuit, and one of the reasons I felt like I could move so well. The paneling allows for easy stretch and give where the limbs branch out from the core, allowing for free flowing movement.

Zoot has won me over with this suit. Perfect solution to upgrading your entry level wetsuit.

Get the Zoot Conduit Tri Wetsuit at One Tri.

Nineteen Tsunami Wetsuit

The Nineteen Tsunami is Nineteen’s mid level suit with advanced features second only to the Nineteen Frequency.  The 5mm of neoprene on the legs assist with providing the optimal swim body position.

  • Yamamoto Arms – In combination with WingSpan Lite, the Pipeline employs full Yamamoto neoprene in the arms to provide unmatched flexibility in its class.
  • Wingspan Lite – Built on the success of the Frequency’s WingSpan System, the Pipeline now has twice the stretch panel size of its predecessor. More importantly, the shape of WingSpan Lite provides an even greater benefit; by extending down your sides our all new pattern allows for greater extension and improved body roll. In addition, WingSpan Lite encircles your shoulders for unrestricted swimming.
  • 253 System – Successful pattern places varying thicknesses of neoprene where they are most effective at maintaining excellent body position and optimum flexibility.
  • Speed Cut Leg Opening – Speedcut leg and arm openings use elliptically cut ankle and wrist cuffs to deliver the fastest possible exits.
  • Uncollar – This will make you forget about uncomfortable and restrictive wetsuit collars. With its ultra-thin dual-sided construction and just the right height, you will forget that the suit has a collar.
  • Dual Seal Zipper – unique hidden zipper design features an additional internal seal next to the skin to further reduce water entry.

Here’s a video

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

Nineteen Pipeline Wetsuit

Noted has having the most accurate sizing chart, Nineteen Wetsuits developed its wetsuit by balancing superior craftsmanship with exceptional value. The Nineteen Pipeline features a maximum of 5mm of to provide the swimmer of needed buoyancy.

Nineteen Pipeline

A notable feature of the wetsuit is the variance in neoprene thickness, 2-5-3, on the arms, torso and legs. This variance is important with triathlon wetsuits, as different parts of the body require different neoprene thickness to encourage proper swimming form. The higher cut on the legs allows for faster transition. Still unsure about this wetsuit? Nineteen Wetsuits features a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty, the longest in the industry. Brilliant.

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

2XU R:1 Race Wetsuit

The Setup

Picture this: You’re a sophomore triathlete now with some mad masters honed swim skills, but you got mouths to feed/bills to pay/or you’re a student without a big budget, and you need wetsuit to replace the cheapest tri wetsuit you bought online last year. What to do? Wetsuits are tricky, but there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Fit – a proper fit in terms of wetsuits is worth almost everything. You’re looking to see what kind of panels the suit has, and where. You’re going to want to try it on to see how it feels. When buying online, you can usually return the wetsuit back to the retailer if it doesn’t fit after an initial try on – like with us at OneTri.com.
  • Material – Does it have Yamamoto Neoprene? Yamamoto neoprene is commonly used for its quality and SCS coating. It’s pretty common in wetsuit but not all triathlon wetsuits are made with Yamamoto which isn’t always a bad thing. What cell? With higher cell neoprene usually comes more flexibility. It usually also means that it is easier to tear because it has a higher density of air pockets in the neoprene. Common cell ratings are 38, 39, and 40. 39 is found in most mid to high level wetsuits. 40 is almost always found in high-end wetsuits in select areas due to its flexibility.
  • Coating – Does it have some sort of coating, such as SCS or the manufacturer’s proprietary coating?
With the above in mind, I’d like to introduce the 2XU R:1 Race wetsuit as a mid-level replacement or addition to what you currently own as part of your triathlon gear. Below is more of the 2XU R1 Wetsuit Review.
Features on the 2XU R:1 Race Wetsuit
This 2xu R1 wetsuit features Yamamoto 39 Cell Neoprene, and has 2XU’s proprietary coating throughout the suit. What this means is that you’re going to feel like an aquatic animal (think dolphins, seals, or if you’re so inclined, a shark) gliding through the water. On the forearm (the blue looking surface that runs from the wrist to the elbow), is a catch panel that helps you grab more water during the catch phase of your stroke. The catch panel feature it something you’ll probably never see on an entry-level suit.
As far as the thickness of the 2xu R1, in the shoulder area, it’s 1.5 mm, and along the torso and chest, it’s 4.5mm. This variance is aligned with mid to higher category suits, as the smaller 1.5 mm shoulder thickness is for greater flexibility, and the 4.5mm along the chest torso area is for buoyancy. The lines you see running down the chest are strakes that should help you going in a single direction. Backed by 2XU’s 2 year warranty, and wide range of available sizes (11 for men, 5 for women), this suit will fit most body types.
Piqued your interest? Go to OneTri.com to add the 2XU R:1 to your cart today to try it out for yourself!

More triathlon wetsuit resource links:

  • All triathlon wetsuits – OneTri.com offers one of the largest triathlon wetsuit selections in the nation (Current count is 11 brands).
  • 2XU Wetsuits – Here is a link to all current 2XU wetsuits
  • Triathlon Wetsuit Rentals –  Here is one of the largest triathlon wetsuit selections on the internet. You find another place that allows a large selection of “try-to-buy” rental wetsuits.
  • Wetsuit Buying Guide – Here is a helpful triathlon wetsuit buying guide that is updated yearly
  • Wetsuit Comparison Chart – This is a men’s triathlon wetsuit comparison chart but applies to women’s wetsuits as well.
  • Triathlon Equipment Guides and Articles – Here’s another resource for all types of triathlon gear guides and articles.