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Will Wearing a Triathlon Racesuit During a Wetsuit Illegal Swim Slow Me Down?

As we get into summer and inland lakes and rivers start heating up, some races will pass the temperature requirement for wetsuits to be declared illegal in triathlons (78 degrees). I recommend wearing a full sleeve length wetsuit over your triathlon racesuit whenever it's legal to do so for reasons I go into in depth in a previous blog.

So, when the water is warm enough for the wetsuit to be banned triathletes have a choice. They could do the swim in bathers (jammers or speedos for men, one or two piece for women) or tri shorts. But this sets you up for problems later in the race. Women would do the bike without a bike chamois. And men might run afoul of "bare torso" rules. Ironman events and USAT events that qualify for Nationals and World Triathlon qualifying events state that "cycling and running with a bare torso is prohibited. Athletes must wear a shirt, jersey, or sport top/sports bra at all times during the cycling and run segments of the race."

Pros will wear a warm water swimskin like the Blueseventy PZ4TX+ which is a compressive suit worn over the racesuit which is taken off after the swim. While it has no buoyancy, which is the main advantage of the wetsuit, it may have a hydrodynamic advantage over your standard triathlon racesuit. BUT, they cost over $300 for something you might use a couple of times in the year and you have to hope that advantage in the water isn't negated by the time it's going to take you getting it off before you get on the bike.

Hayden Spierings put the triathlon racesuit to the swimming test

My advice, especially for anything shorter than a half ironman, is to wear your well fitting triathlon racesuit. TCMTriSquad uses the Jakroo Wing Triathlon Racesuit and I had the opportunity to do a imperfect test of sorts recently in a couple of indoor triathlons. The concern in swimming in a triathlon racesuit is that the material will cause drag. I have felt that previously earlier in my triathlon career when I've tried swimming in shorts and a lycra singlet made of heavier, less breathable lycra material, but didn't have this feeling in the single piece Wing. The pockets are also relatively small and tight and I didn't feel any drag from them. So on March 24 I raced a indoor pool swim in the Jakroo Wing Triathlon Racesuit for 450 yds in 5:41 which comes out to 1:15/100 yd pace. About exactly where I felt I was at in my training. A month previous, on February 25 I swam an indoor triathlon 1,125 yds in 14:57 at 1:19 /100yd pace in regular swim jammers and comparable fitness. This is about the drop off in pace I would expect for a tripling in the swimming time. So I would say there's next to no difference swimming in the triathlon racesuit compared to regular swimming bathers and at most 1-2 secs per hundred yards which doesn't amount to much over a mile. From my training, I know there's no way I would have swum faster than a 1:13/100 yd pace for that 450 yd swim. And the mesh fabric of the triathlon racesuit will keep you cool until you dry off it the heat. Make of that what you will!

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