How to Prepare for your Best Wetsuit Swim


Posted by Coach Jamie Brown

Coach Jamie (far right)


How many times have you started a race and about 300-500m into a wetsuit swim you start to have terrible feelings of claustrophobia, suffocation, fatigue, and restriction? Well if you’ve ever done a triathlon I imagine you have felt one or all of these at some point. You may have the best swim build-up to a key race, then gun goes off....and you just feel off.

I hear this quite often from athletes and when I ask how often they practice in their wetsuit, I get a few common responses:


  • I don’t have access to open water
  • I did this week, once or twice
  • It’s too hot


All of the reasons above are valid. But the regular wetsuit practice is vital for having a good consistent solid swim performances.

Here are some ways to prepare to ensure you're ready to go hard on race day with a wetsuit:


  1. Use the wetsuit 10 times before the race. I know it seems like a lot but imagine using brand new shoes on race day or a different bike than you have been training with. It's the same concept here and it needs to feel comfortable.
  2. If your primary and only place to swim is a pool, use it in the pool. If its too hot then only use it for a small portion of the workout, maybe 25-40%.  Do drills and practice sighting.
  3. Replicate a race day scenario - a very short or no warmup! Try 4-5 sets of 25 strokes hard 25 strokes easy.  If you don't expect a warmup use bands with the suit on.
  4. Swim at intensity using suit in weeks leading up to race. Yes, even if your only option is a pool. Don’t wait till it's taper week to practice in your suit. Its important to know what your body feels like 500, 1000, 1500, 2000m, and above in a race. I like doing 2-3 1000m repeats alternating intensity hard and EZ by 100.  Or doing 600-800m negative splitting the intervals.

Hopefully these little tricks will help you feel great and comfortable in your wetsuit at your next triathlon!

Coach Jamie Brown is based in Bend, Oregon and is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach as well as certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine for CPT, PES and CES. Jamie currently races in the Elite ITU Paratriathlon Series and is a two-time National Champion, two-time XTERRA World Championship qualifier and has 10 years of Personal Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach experience. Jamie was also a collegiate pitcher for for Orange Coast College and Chapman University. He can be reached at

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