How To Put On A Wetsuit

I’ve had two wet-suits  and they are both with sleeves.  Though I won the second one (which I still use), I still advocate sleeved wet-suits over sleeveless (Farmer John types).  I guess if you’re going to need a wet-suit  you might as well get full buoyancy and insulation; I’d hate to go through the bother and expense and still be sitting in the water thinking: “My arms are cold.” 

I’m sure the argument for more arm freedom can be made; all I’m saying is that this advice is intended for wet-suits with sleeves (though I bet a lot of it can still apply).

N.B. Always handle your wet-suit with short, trimmed fingernails.  Piercing and scratching the outer layer of the wet-suit will hamper its effectiveness in the water and ultimately limit its useful lifespan.

The basic guiding principle is that higher is better.  As you’re pulling the suit up your legs, keep hiking it higher.  If the bottom cuffs end up too high on your mid-shin, you’ll still have an easier time getting them back down again once you have enough slack left for you shoulders.
Grab a bunch of your wet-suit and keep pulling it upward.  

Hike it up!


Keep doing this as you get the suit on past your waist, right up your upper body.  You’re moving any slack in the suit right up to your shoulders – that’s where you’ll need it.  When you maximize the slack around your shoulders, you guarantee maximum mobility for when you’re doing your freestyle stroke.

Higher still!


I confess it takes patience to get things just right; if you have a friend/loved one/tri-groupie to help you, it can make it a lot easier.



Once you’ve got the suit all the way up, use the little tether (hopefully no-one has cut it off while trying to be helpful – long story), to pull the zipper closed.  You may have to lie some flaps down to get the thing zipped; this is another part where being patient and getting it just right can save you chafing and frustration during the swim.  We all want to be our best in open water and if you’re calm and comfortable it’s one less worry during the swim.

I usually put some Body Glide on my neck just in case, though!
Any other wet-suit tips you might know of?

10 Replies to “How To Put On A Wetsuit”

  1. @Steph: Yup, I bet Manitoba waters deserve a sleeved wet-suit,
    @Lisa: I can't believe your husband swam 27 miles without a wet-suit!
    @Kat: I find it funny that doggie paddle is the 'beginner' stroke…. it's actually way more exhausting than just about anything else!
    @CandyFit: I'm sure a wet-suit is easier to get into than your competition outfits 😉

  2. @Steph: Yup, I bet Manitoba waters deserve a sleeved wet-suit,
    @Lisa: I can't believe your husband swam 27 miles without a wet-suit!
    @Kat: I find it funny that doggie paddle is the 'beginner' stroke…. it's actually way more exhausting than just about anything else!
    @CandyFit: I'm sure a wet-suit is easier to get into than your competition outfits 😉

  3. Putting on a wetsuit is always an interesting experience! Such great tips and wish that I had them for the first time I put one on. These days I'm more likely to put on a wetsuit for surfing which is more flexible than a tri wetsuit but still a pain in the neck to get on!

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