Is a wetsuit a buoyancy aid?

Disadvantages of neoprene

A neoprene is a very important garment if we want to perform an aquatic activity in cold waters and keep our body heat thanks to this thermal insulator. In addition, it is something that has to last as long as possible, because their prices are not to go constantly changing suit. Therefore, we give you some tips on how to choose the wetsuit that best suits you, the different types, seams and brands.

When it comes to choosing a wetsuit, the fit and adaptation to the body shape is fundamental. A suit that is of a low quality but fits the anatomy is always going to perform much better than a high quality but ill-fitting wetsuit. Therefore, feeling that it fits properly is very important, especially in the torso and the length of the arms and legs.

When trying on a wetsuit, try doing a few stretches and squats to see if it fits your body contours. If you notice it’s too loose in the lower back, it means it doesn’t fit your body shape well, so water will get in and you won’t be able to keep warm.

How to choose a wetsuit size

The wetsuit, that element that a few (skilled swimmers) do not give too much importance except in extreme temperature conditions and that the vast majority of popular people want to wear in competition because it makes swimming easier.

The origin of the use of the isothermal suit is the protection of athletes against hypothermia. It is left to the decision of the GGEE competitors to use it in the temperature range between 16-22°C for Olympic distance and between 16 and 24.6ºc for longer distances.

The first argument is to use it to avoid hypothermia. Something that will help our performance not to drop. However, its characteristics make it an element that favors buoyancy and even reduces friction forces, so it will provide us with some external help to improve our swimming qualities.

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Neoprene swimming wetsuit peru

The isothermal suits are made of neoprene of different thicknesses, which is why they are popularly known in triathlon jargon as wetsuits. The bubbles enclosed in the material reduce its ability to conduct heat, also giving the suit a low density that increases the buoyancy of the swimmer.    Its use is delimited by the rules, so that depending on the water temperature, the judges will designate its use as voluntary, compulsory or optional (Figure 1). When in a triathlon its use is optional, most triathletes use it, and it is not only for the comfort of swimming without cold, but also for the advantage it brings in the time invested in going through the sector.

Use of the wetsuit depending on the water temperature. Not only the water temperature influences but also the actual swimming distance and the outside temperature (FETRI Competition Rules).

Toussaint et al. (1989) observed that using an isothermal suit decreases the drag force by 14% at a speed of 1.25 m/sec and by 12% at a speed of 1.5 m/sec. This decrease in drag force is explained by the characteristics of the material, since the suit improves buoyancy and increases the lift force, which is reflected in an improvement in time for the same run.

Neoprene benefits

Triathlon neoprene is a garment that sooner or later you are going to use if you decide to practice this sport. Both in the first races of the season and in the finals, it is usually necessary to use the suit. Therefore, I will now detail a series of aspects (from my humble opinion) to take into account when choosing a triathlon wetsuit.

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Its use in the triathlon event will depend on the water temperature and the distance: it is mandatory if the water is less than 14 degrees and is prohibited if it is above 20 degrees (roughly speaking).  In between these distances you can use it if you wish. This is where the distance issue comes in: if it’s a sprint, depending on how long it takes you to take it off, it may not be worth the time you can gain by swimming with a wetsuit. In an olympic triathlon the gain in swimming with it outweighs the time you can lose by taking it off.

The first thing you should know is that surfing or diving wetsuits can be used in the events (unless otherwise specified in the rules of the event) but it is even worse than swimming without it.

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