Triathlon: How to Put on a Wetsuit

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  • Matt Cook
  • |
  • Jul 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Triathlon How to Put on a Wetsuit---1.jpgWhy wetsuits? Wetsuits aren’t technically a requirement for the swimming component of a triathlon, but there are many reasons to wear one while you swim.

The primary benefit of wearing a suit in the water is that it provides additional buoyancy. This buoyancy helps you perform better by creating less resistance as your pull through. Additionally, your body is positioned higher in the water. Not to mention that it helps you retain heat for those extra chilly days!

Don’t let the hardest part of your triathlon training be putting your suit on. Once you’ve found a wetsuit that fits properly, getting into your suit doesn’t have to be a challenge. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be a pro at putting on your suit in no time.

The Proper Steps

There’s a systematic approach to putting on your suit in the easiest, most effective manner:

  1. Start with your legs. Work your way up your legs. Once your suit has reached your hips, adjust your legs, starting below your knee. Pull the suit up gradually until you are comfortably crease free.
  2. Move onto your torso and arms. Shimmy the suit up your body and reach each arm through the sleeves. Zip up your back and adjust your torso first, then your sleeves. Start at your wrists and pull your sleeves until you have extra rubber sitting on your shoulders—you’ll need it once your shoulders start moving.


Cover Your Feet

Nothing is worse than the struggle of getting your foot stuck as you’re trying to put your wetsuit on. Make it a less painful process by covering your feet. This wetsuit technique will create a barrier between the skin on your feet and the suit.

Pro tip: Cover your feet with plastic bags before trying to put on your suit. While this may seem like a weird concept, it’s actually common practice for most swimmers. You can also use this trick on your hands to get through those tricky parts of the sleeves. Plastic bags are easily accessible and you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.


Don’t lubricate your entire body—just your ankles and wrists to effortlessly glide through those tough spots. Water-based lubricant is the best option when you’re putting on your suit for a triathlon. Avoid oil-based lubricants at all costs! The oil will degrade the synthetic rubber in your wetsuit.

While there are specifically designed triathlon lubricants, KY Jelly will work just as effectively and will save you a little extra cash.

Invest in Dive Skin

Knowing what to wear on triathlon day will help you train and prepare more efficiently in similar conditions. While it may seem counteractive to add more clothing onto your body, wearing a skin dive will help with the headache that is getting into your suit.

A dive skin provides a similar solution to the bagged feet trick, by creating that extra layer to prevent friction between your skin and the suit.

Ask for Help

Buddy up! Putting on a wet suit is much easier when you have a friend to help you out. Put your arm in your suit and get your friend to blow in the other end, to form a layer of air between your body and the suit. You can also get your friend to pull up the back of the suit while you pull up the front. When two people work together to get on a suit, it’s much easier and significantly quicker.

If you don’t have a buddy with you, don’t be embarrassed to ask other swimmers for help. Your fellow swimmers will be sympathetic to your cause and will likely have no problem helping you out. Repay the favour by offering to help other people you see also struggling with their wetsuits.

Topics: Swimming


Matt Cook

Matt Cook

Father of 3 and former competitive swimmer, Matt completed his first Ironman 70.3 in 2013 in Muskoka. He has since completed another 70.3 and is planning on doing a full Ironman in 2016 or 2017. Matt took up triathlons for the challenge, to relax and to just to stay in shape so he can enjoy life with his family.

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