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How much buoyancy does your triathlon wetsuit need?

Your swimming style will dictate the thickness of your choice of suit, says Andy Blow

Triathletes in wetsuits

Are you in the market for a new wetsuit this season and wondering how much buoyancy you need? Andy Blow explains how obtaining a good body position is key…

With more wetsuits coming in slightly different thicknesses of neoprene – and some using air cell neoprene to further increase lift – wetsuits have never offered such variance in the levels of available buoyancy. Buoyancy is great to a point; it’s what gives you a flat, streamlined body position in the water and makes swimming in a suit faster than without.

However, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. If you have heavy legs and a poor leg kick, then a suit with a lot of lift in the thighs will help you maintain a neutral body position more easily. But if you already have a good body position and strong kick, too much leg lift can put pressure on your lower back and make your kick less effective.

With this in mind, it’s worth looking at the panel construction of your intended suit and thinking about whether you need more or less buoyancy. Panels with a depth of 5mm and/or air cell neoprene in the torso and legs offer the most lift, with some suits going as low as 3mm or 4mm if they’re designed to be more neutral. Obviously trying a few different suits out, if possible, before making a decision is helpful.

For lots more advice on the latest swimming kit head to our Gear section

Profile image of Jamie Beach Jamie Beach Former digital editor


Jamie was 220 Triathlon's digital editor between 2013 and 2015.