What are the differences between a surfing and swimming wetsuit?


What are the differences between a surfing and swimming wetsuit?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get asked here at Tri Wetsuit Hire. Here is our answer..

Wetsuits for open water swimming are distinctively different from traditional surfing wetsuits.

Wetsuits were first developed for water-sports to provide warmth in the water. Surf or diving wetsuits are generally designed with warmth and protection in mind, not with swimming movement or speed. Open water swimming wetsuits are made specifically for swimmers needs.

  • Flexibility, hydrodynamic resistance - Triathlon & Swimming wetsuits are designed to provide flexibility, hydrodynamic resistance. They have significantly higher number of panels and varying neoprene thickness to ensure maximum flexibility through the shoulders, buoyancy to elevate the body position in the water and thermal protection.  Surfing wetsuits don’t give you lots of arm movement, so they will feel restrictive around the shoulders. This will encumber rotation and make your limbs ache and in turn affect your stroke.
  • Smooth skin- triathlon & swimming wetsuits usually have a smooth skin to aid movement through the water.
  • Ease of removal. Swimming wetsuits are generally easier to get on / off. The back zip on a swimming wetsuits is a lot longer so that if you are doing a triathlon you can get the suit off quickly and jump on your bike.
  • Neck Seal: The neck seal may be a lot higher on a surf suit, making it uncomfortable for swimming and since this area is not designed for lots of repeated head and neck movement you are likely to get some serious chafing (surf rash).
  • Knee panels Surfing wetsuits also often have reinforced knee panels that will increase drag for swimming

I hope you find this useful. 


Sporting Regards

The Tri Wetsuit Hire Team 

1 comment

  • I bought a wetsuit as I started to feel too cold to swim in the seabut I find it too buoyant and it’s difficult to put my legs down, any ideas?


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