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The Wetsuit Journey

Photography by Darren Atkin

Photography by Darren Atkin

My personal opinion is that swimming in normal swimsuit/bathers; the freedom of shoulders, the feel of the water, is the best form of open water swimming on earth. It’s a personal thing.

Why take a wetsuit journey?




–          To be able to swim further in colder water

–          To keep warm when swimming slower

–          To protect oneself from jellyfish and UV

–          To keep up with other wetsuit wearers

–          To understand what it’s like to swim in a wetsuit

A wetsuit journey is unique. Mine started with a mid-range (budget conscious) purchase, as it does for many of us. I bought without input from others,  without seeking expert advice. It felt comfortable and was fairly easy to get on. When swimming it filled with water and was like swimming with a sack of potatoes.

The next wetsuit came courtesy of some contacts in the industry. A top of the range blueseventy Helix wetsuit. A fantastic wetsuit. Lots of flexibility through the shoulders. Properly fitted. Very comfortable to put on. Built for performance. And for me, absolutely useless. I had two of my worst swims ever in this suit. I am very relaxed in the water and quite buoyant throughout the body including my legs. The Helix held my legs up so high I couldn’t swim properly anymore. It made swimming hard work.

Next I managed to get my hands on the Huub Archimedes. Another top of the range wetsuit. A very considered design with lots of good features . The 4mm neoprene (1mm less that the Helix in the leg) allowed my body to sit more naturally in the water. I couldn’t believe the difference 1mm less neoprene made. However, once again the results were very poor. Why? The equivalent size Huub wetsuit that I had in the blueseventy wetsuit was in fact to big. It filled with water invoking the ‘swimming like a sack of potatoes’ result once again. Dropping down two sizes in wetsuit I found my wetsuit swim nirvana.

What did I learn from this process?

–          A wetsuit that is going to be suitable for you needs to fit your swim style, body type and your budget.

–          If you are buoyant in the legs 5mm neoprene in the legs is most likely going to hinder rather than help & the reverse if you have sinking legs.

–          You are very unlikely to be able to size your first swim wetsuit correctly on your own.

–          The top range wetsuit isn’t always going to the best performing one for you.

–          A wetsuit that matches your body type, swim type and fits well can enhance your swim enjoyment in certain conditions and will greatly enhance your swim performance.

*The swim wetsuit manufacturing game is very competitive these days. Companies don’t survive long if they make rubbish; wetsuits are all of a pretty good standard. The key is finding the right wetsuit for you. Find a store with a range of brands. Go in with plenty of time in hand. Find a representative with the time, interest and knowledge to help you find the right wetsuit for you and your swimming.  You’ll find some helpful folk on our friends page https://fitandabel.com/friends/

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Queen Charlotte Sound
Swimming in 2015