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Here are some tips to help you find the right wetsuit for you and how to put it on properly & aftercare.
" The most crucial part to finding a wetsuit".
How to get the right size wetsuit for you.
Getting into tight neoprene isn’t something that us humans do often. It can feel very unnatural and strange but getting the right fitting wetsuit for what you are doing can make a huge difference! If you get the right size, when you head out into the water it can then feel like you are not even wearing one.
In essence, as long as you have put it on correctly, the tighter the better.
Getting the right size can be very difficult but also the most crucial part to finding a wetsuit that fits.
You may not want to hear this but the best fitting wetsuit is one that takes about 15-20 mins to put on and feels a little too tight when you are dry and standing on land but then when you are swimming, it feels like you don’t even have a suit on.
If you are easily slipping on a swimming wetsuit, it is probably too big for you.
Yes there are size guides to refer to but every suit is slightly different.
To add to this, we are all different shapes and sizes therefore, one size of one brand may fit you and then another may not so it is important to be aware of this when trying them on.
Nowadays, swimming wetsuits in particular are getting more and more flexible which is great but we just have to be aware of this when it comes to finding the right size.
You may think you are a size 12 in the size guide but when you put it on and go swimming it becomes very baggy because it is so flexible.
You do not want it to be baggy because as soon as water can go in there it will fill up and more likely to be more difficult to swim with. To add to this, a wetsuit being too big can also affect your ability to keep warm. The wetsuits are designed to trap a thin layer of water between your skin and the suit so if it is too baggy then this becomes less effective.
This tends to happen especially with these more flexible swimming suits so you may have to go down 2 sizes to what you are usually used to.
The more entry level suits will probably be less flexible and then may be hard to get into. So it may be true to size or may even need to go up a couple of sizes.
In essence, every suit is different so our best advice is to try on as many as you can to find the one that fits you.
How to put on a wetsuit correctly.
As said above, the perfect wetsuit size should take a while to get on. Some say it can even take 20 mins to get on. Nowadays, you tend to find that wetsuits made for swimming are incredibly flexible and the neoprene is made in a way that it acts almost like a second skin.
Because of this, we have to be incredibly careful to not get holes in it.
Even if you don’t have long nails, your wetsuit will tear if you use the tips of your fingers too much. I know so many people who have come to me asking if I could repair their suits because their nails had made a hole even though they don't have nails that look long enough to do the damage.
Trust me, they will.
Pretty much every new wetsuit comes with a pair of white gloves and overshoes. The overshoes are meant to help the feet through the suit as they are more slippery. These are not essential but are more for aiding the feet and making it a little quicker.
On the other hand, the gloves provided will really help prevent getting holes in the suit.
They may seem weird and you may think they look stupid to wear but better that than getting loads of holes. Using these gloves still isn’t going to guarantee your fingernails won't make a hole but they are a huge help. If your suit doesn’t come with gloves then find a thin cotton pair in a shop and they should do the same.
Most people trying on a suit get it on and then say “I think it is too small and I think I need to go up a size”. More often than not, this is because it hasn’t quite been put on properly. In most cases the legs haven't been pulled up enough making it hard to then get the arms in. If this happens you may feel like it is pulling down and like you can't move properly.
So here is a step by step guide on how to get a wetsuit on properly.
-Make sure to have your gloves on and be in a room/place that is relatively cool (you will heat up quickly doing this and when the suit is on).
-If you are doing triathlon or just like being able to get the suit of fast then try putting some wetsuit specific lube on your wrists and ankles before you put it on (do not use Vaseline as this will damage the neoprene over time).
-If you are doing a long swim then I would also suggest putting the lube around your neck as this will help reduce any chafing. Best to put it on before you swim because once you feel it chafing it will be too late.
Make sure the zipper is all the way down and then step into the legs of the suits like you would a pair of trousers. Then slowly and surely pull the suit from the bottom of the legs up as high as they can go up the calves for your starting point. It is okay if it feels like you have pulled it up a little too high as it will naturally go down when you start to swim.
-You then have to think like you are trying to put tights on. Very carefully whilst trying to use the middle of your fingers rather than the tips, gently pull up the suit on each leg bit by bit until you have the crotch all of the way up. Then continue this until you have it over your bum before then pulling it up bit by bit over your core.
-Once you have pulled it all the way to this point, then do the same with your arms, Get each arm in and pull the start point up as high as you can and then bit by bit until the suit is tucked right into your armpit. If you have it right into your armpit, it will make it easier to get over your shoulders and then close it at the back. If you put your arms out to the side, you shouldn’t be able to bounce the material in the armpit, it should be tight like a second skin.
-Then once you have done this you should be able to then zip it up yourself with the cord. If it's not quite on right at the end you may need to get someone to help. Some suits also have zips that are quick release so you may need to get someone to put it in before zipping it all the way up.
-It is now on!
It should feel slightly too tight but not too tight that you cannot breathe. It is really important that the neckline is comfortable. The best suits in my opinion for having a really comfy neck line and is Orca.
I highly recommend their suits from all ranges for swimming as they are so flexible, give support with buoyancy and are very comfortable.
How to look after your wetsuit
It shouldn’t take much to look after your wetsuit and keep it good for a long time. It all depends on how often you use it.
Make sure to keep using your gloves to prevent getting holes in it.
Give your suit a rinse with lukewarm fresh water after each use. Even in wild freshwater lochs there may be some algae and weeds etc that manage to get into your suit. Make sure to wash it especially if you have been in the sea.
If you have been swimming in particularly dirty water then a tiny bit of washing up liquid should do the trick but usually fresh water is best.
Then turn your wetsuit inside out to make sure you wash the inside and let it then drip dry.
Do NOT leave it in direct sunlight as you may come back to the neoprene melting .
Once you have turned it inside out and rinsed it, put a thick hanging into the shoulders and hang it up.
Try to avoid using thin metal hangers and this is more likely to stretch the neoprene over time.
If you are then not going to use your wetsuit for a long time then once it is dried, store it flat and away from anywhere where mice could get it.
You should keep checking your suit for any holes as getting these filled in sooner rather than later will make a huge difference. If you do find holes in them then get some “Black Witch Glue”. Take a small bit of the glue and put it inside the side. Less is more with this and then dab it on the surface so it doesn't leave a lot of residue.
If you keep on top with looking after your wetsuit you will be able to enjoy it for longer.
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Thank you very much for reading our blog. We hope this helps when it comes to looking for a wetsuit, how to get it on and what to do to look after it so you can keep on exploring.
Our aim is to share other people's stories. Whether you have a story about mental health, community or why you started wild swimming for example.
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