In Search of a Wetsuit

With our first triathlon, Elkhart Lake, fast approaching, I began my search to find a wetsuit.  Nick and I decided we would rent wetsuits for this sprint since they are “highly recommended” for the race, and possibly buy one in the upcoming months for our big race, Steelhead 70.3 in August.

I tried on my first wetsuit the other day, an Aquasphere.  I was sweating trying to get it on.  I figured it would be similar to putting on tights.  I was prepared for it to be difficult, however this was quickly becoming a workout.  Sweat was pouring down my face.  I finally got both of my legs in and the wetsuit was about mid-thigh, but couldn’t get it up any further.  I walked out of the dressing room in despair, defeated by the wetsuit.

Knowing my legs are quite large, my calf measures 16 1/2″ on a good day and we’re not even going to discuss my quads.  I decided to try on a larger size.  Same thing, I couldn’t get it past my thighs.  I was beginning to get discouraged.

I tried on another brand, TYR in a women’s extra large.  I was able to pull it over my legs without a struggle.  Ah, I was finally getting somewhere.  Once I got it over my torso, it was obvious I was in the wrong size.  There was a huge gap above my shoulders.  I zipped it up anyway and immediately dismissed it due to the neck.  I have an extremely sensitive gag reflex.  I cannot wear anything tight around my neck, most crew neck t-shirts bother me.

Next up was Zoot.  This wetsuit fit my legs.  I was able to pull the sleeves on, and felt my shoulders were a little constricted.  I zipped it up anyway, and the neck was high and tight.

The search for a wetsuit continued.  I read that a person will try on approximately 5-7 wetsuits before finding one that fits his/her body.  This is due to the fact that each brand is cut different, yet the only measurements they advertise are height and weight.  So it is pretty much a guessing game as to whether or not a particular brand will fit your build.

With the brand selection limited in the Milwaukee area, I began to feel the pressure to find a suit that fit.  The alternative is to rent one online either through a specific wetsuit manufacturer or an online rental store that matches your height, weight, and body type to one of the brands they have in stock.  This option scares me a little.  What if the one I order doesn’t fit?  I know I’m a “special case” and hate being that way.Orca S3 wetsuit, low neckline

I went to another retailer that carried Zoot and Orca.  I told the salesman my height and weight and he recommended I try an Orca.  I got my legs in the suit without much of a fight, and was able to put the suit on and zip it up.  The neck design was comfortable, yet felt like it was snug enough to keep water out.  I was pleased with the fit of this suit.

I went ahead and tried on the Zoot wetsuit for good measure.  Again, it fit my body, but the neck was too high and tight.  This confirmed that the Zoot was not a good fit for me, which was a little disappointing because I really like my Zoot tri shorts.

With a wetsuit that finally met my needs (large legs and low-cut neck), I reserved the Orca for my first race.  I’m excited to see how it performs!