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Putting on your wetsuit: it’s not for sissies

I’ve been getting quite a few questions about wetsuits lately, and thought it would be helpful for those of you who don’t train in a group to see a demo of the best way to put on your wetsuit.

My best experience putting on a wetsuit is always at dawn on a beach somewhere, when no one else is around and the suit slides right on.  The worst are usually mid-morning, on a beach somewhere, when there’s an audience of non-athletes who are just trying to find ways to amuse themselves. 

Now, fair warning:  this model (provided to us by Xterra) seems to just slip right in to her suit.  I can honestly say that never, in my 12+ years of racing, have I “slipped in” to a wetsuit.  But she’s got the idea right.  It’s like pantyhose, only tighter. It’s like a hot, thick, pair of leather pants with a chubby liner.  Right.  It sounds appealing, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s not all bad.  Just remember the following tips before you try this at home:

1) Never, ever ever, ever ever do this when you’re hot and sweaty.  At least try to start from a position of cool, calm dryness.  If you can’t, well, just be prepared to be dripping when you’re done.

2) Consider using Body Glide around your ankles to help with the on/off of legs (I glide up the back of my calves).  You can also use something called “Suit Juice” which is a godsend if you can find it. 

3) Body Glide the underside of your arms (the part that lays flat against the rubber by your bra) if you’re wearing a sleeveless suit. 

4) Body Glide the back of your neck where the suit ties up – this is especially true if your suit is a bit big on top (as mine is because I had to size up). 

5) Don’t get into your suit more than 30 minutes before your start.  Otherwise, it’s like a sausage-fest-bakeoff in the morning heat and you’ll have worked yourself into a hot state before getting in the water.  Put it off and then put it on.

6) Take one last bathroom break before getting in the suit.  Yep, didn’t think of that, did you?

7) If the suit is a bit short for you in the legs, that’s okay – the most important part of hte fit is to not have a gap underneath your crotch.  Pull the legs up if you must, but if there’s space between the suit and your crotch (the low-rider syndrome), shimmy the suit up until it’s even, and then test by connecting the back closure.  If the suit is pulling on you in the front, try to adjust, swim in it once for testing, and decide if it’s the right size for you.

That’s it from here.  Enjoy the video.  I’d put one up of me doing it, but I just can’t afford the hassle of becoming the wetsuit pinup model :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL7iJcOuBo0

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ala #

    The first time I put on a wetsuit I got blisters on my fingers from pulling up so much.

    June 14, 2011
  2. I got these helpful tips from the guy who rented me my suit last year.
    - Always use the flat of your fingertips (never nails) when handling the rubber
    - after bringing it up past your hips, and again once you are all the way in, do several squats to help eliminate that low-rider syndrome
    - don’t panic!

    June 14, 2011
  3. Kristin #

    so helpful! i’m still intimidated but so glad i know what i’m getting into now. thanks, plusrunner!

    June 14, 2011
  4. Great description! I always use my “first time putting on a tri wetsuit” story when I’m doing readings. It’s one of the most amusing parts of triathlon, IMHO. Keep up the good fun!
    -Jayne Williams
    Slow Fat Triathlete.

    October 6, 2011

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