Another Big Purchase – Buying a Wetsuit!

Living in Canada, a wetsuit is actually required for several local triathlons, and although optional at others, it has been a very cold spring and it is doubtful most bodies of water have warmed up enough to swim any of these races “naked”. Aside from which, the only race I really want to do this year is one where the water is ALWAYS cold (a mountain lake), so….

After doing some research online, and figuring out what size I probably was (a medium due to weight, if not height), I thought maybe we should wait to buy them to see if I could chase a few extra pounds. That was six weeks ago, the pounds aren’t leaving. So Saturday we set out to our only local swimming store (that we know of – we found it through advertising on the local triathlon site). We had dropped in a few weeks ago to ask some questions, and the staff member suggested we come on a day when we hadn’t worked out as trying on suits could be tiring.

Bruce and I both wound up trying on two different suits, as each brand fits a little different. We decided that since this was a major, one time purchase, we’d upgrade from the base model to a mid-range suit, which should do us for many years. The warranty on my suit is five years! As long as I don’t gain or lose more than 10 pounds, this will fit me for a very long time.

I wound up buying this suit…

a tsunami by Nineteen. I also tried on an Orca, but found it was tighter in the arms than I liked compared to the Nineteen.

Now, Bruce had done all kinds of research online before going into the store, watching videos of how to put on a wetsuit. And the woman who runs the store was also super helpful. But I have to tell you – in general, the whole process was easier than I was expecting! Most videos make it sounds like wrestling an octopus – it wasn’t bad at all.

First, put your hand into the leg, and turn it almost completely inside out except a couple of inches.

Slip your foot into the opening, and pull gently from inside the suit to slide it over your heel.

Slowly roll the suit up your leg, making sure there are no ripples or rolls of fabric (the first time I did it, I wound up with a ridge that was really hard to get pulled up later!).

Once you have one leg up near the knee, repeat the process with the other leg.

Once the suit is up to the knees on both legs, slowly start pulling it upwards, being sure to pull from the inside of the suit.

Even a fingernail can nick or puncture the suit, so it is important to pull from the inside. Pull the suit up your thighs until it is as high up in the crotch as you can get it. The woman in the store actually said for men it should be so high up it is slightly uncomfortable – it will relax as you wear it.

Once I had it up my thighs, I had to tug it over my hips and bottom – Bruce didn’t have the same issue, it may be the shape of a woman’s hips that make it a little more challenging.

Next is the arms – the process is the same as the legs. Pull one arm almost inside out, and slip your hand through.

Roll the sleeve up your arm, keeping it smooth, and pulling it up as you go (you want it high on your shoulder when done).

This is the point where having a friend around to help is important – they can help you pull the shoulder up if you are having trouble. After you have one sleeve on, repeat with the other arm.

Once you have both shoulders up as high as you can get them, bend forward 90 degrees, and pull up any extra fabric around your abdomen. This will help the suit zip better.

Next, reach behind with both hands (again, a friend is helpful here…), pulling your shoulder blades towards one another, working to pull the two sides of the suit together before pulling up the zipper.

Leaning forward when pulling up the zipper can help, you may not have to, but I found it easier.

Finally, fasten the velcro closure at the neck, and you’re done!

The suit should fit like a second skin, tight like compression tights, but not so tight it is difficult to breath or restricts your range of motion.

Over time, the suit will conform to your body shape, which is one reason you should never lend your suit to anyone (unless you plan on selling it to them).

So although the whole process seemed a) expensive, and b) a little scary before we got started, in the end, it wasn’t that bad, I love my new suit, and I’m dying to get out into some open water for swim practice!

Many thanks to the wonderful owners of Swimming Matters here in Winnipeg for all their help – you guys ROCK!

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