How to Prepare for your Best Wetsuit Swim
Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Coach Jamie (far right)
by Coach Jamie Brown
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!