How to swim in a wetsuit

Swimming in a wetsuit is quite different to swimming in a swimsuit. Robin Brew explains how to tweak your swim technique to make the most of the benefits a wetsuit offers

Open-water swimmer

If you’ve never swum in a wetsuit before, then you’ll find it’s quite different to ‘normal’ swimming in a swimsuit. The first thing you’ll notice is that the wetsuit feels tight. This is normal because wetsuits are designed to give stability and buoyancy to the core of your body.


The hallmark of a good suit is the quality of the neoprene and the range of motion it affords around your shoulders. Flexibility is needed here to enable you to achieve a full stroke with your arms.Swimming in a wetsuit is pure luxury if you struggle with your body position in the pool, as the buoyancy of the neoprene allows you to float high on the surface of the water and eliminate issues such as low legs and hips. The foundation of any good stroke derives from body position in the water, so try to relax and use the neoprene’s properties to full advantage.

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With this aspect of the stroke already sorted, it’s understandable why swimming in a wetsuit can be between 10-15% faster than without.

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Tip 1 Use a  slightly longer stroke than you would in the pool. Reach further forward at the front of the stroke, and use a slight body roll to facilitate the extension of your hands at the front and back ends of each stroke.

Tip 2 Look down and forwards at an angle of approximately 45º. Hold a light four-beat leg kick (four kicks for every complete arm cycle); this helps maintain the rhythm and timing of the stroke.

Tip 3 Use a slightly wider arm recovery. Don’t stop at the back of the stroke – maintain a continuous movement from the propulsive phase into the recovery phase to add momentum.



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