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Thread: Sea swimming - need some advice on wetsuits

  1. #1
    Master
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    Sea swimming - need some advice on wetsuits

    Anyone here into open water swimming who could lend some advice? My Daughter's doing an introduction to sea swimming course - last term it was pool-based building up their endurance, and from this week they're starting out in the sea.

    We've been told we need to buy a swimming wetsuit but they haven't given any specifics or particular advice about what thickness of insulation and I've not been able to get hold of them to ask. Current sea temps off the South Coast are around 11-12C, and will obviously warm up as we move into the summer.

    I don't want to get one that she's going to boil in, but equally don't want her to freeze either, as the hobby will likely be short-lived! We bought one from Decathlon last week marketed as a cold-water suit, but again no information in the shop about what is considered to be cold water, and at 4mm all over my instinct when she tried it on was that she'd bee too hot.

    Any tips?

  2. #2
    Master
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    My wetsuit is a Zone3 Aspire. In really cold water, I wear an additional 2mm rash vest, and 3mm neoprene gloves, hat and socks.

    There are some great deals on at the moment- I bought mine as ex-demo at £60 plus £25 for new zip - so far 4 years of open water swimming for that!

  3. #3
    Master Reeny's Avatar
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    I used to windsurf, and a shorty might be best to keep the cost down for summer, then use the full 4mm winter suit in colder weather.
    The fit is all important, so she will need to try on.
    Too loose and you will loose heat / too tight and you can't move.

    The torso would need to keep the heat in, and the arms & legs would need to be free moving.
    So I assume that a swimming wetsuit will have looser fitting arms & legs, with thinner neoprene in the vital places for better movement.

    Edit - I noticed you already have a 4mm suit - this would be ideal for winter, but too thick for me during summer.
    A 2-3mm summer suit is easier to get into, and easier to use.
    Go to a proper surf shop - Surfers swim using their arms & legs and will know what works.
    Last edited by Reeny; 9th June 2021 at 09:22.

  4. #4
    Master
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    This might help:

  5. #5
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Alpkit have a good range.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  6. #6
    Master Maysie's Avatar
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    My old wetsuit for OW swimming was multi-thickness to provide warmth to the core, but had thinner zones for greater flexibility of movement. It was quite hi-spec though and aimed at triathletes, so not sure if they will be available in child sizes.

    It did make a big difference when swimming crawl as it was very flexible through the shoulders.

    I really struggled with the extra buoyancy the suit provided, so found the swim technique in OW was very different to pool based drills.

  7. #7
    Master
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    Cheers for the tips guys. She fits a Ladies size small now, so the days of getting away with cheaper youth sizes are long gone! Sounds like the 4mm Decathlon suit might be too warm then.

    Good shout about the surf shop - we have one down the coast I might pop into later if I can get away.

    Had no idea Alpkit did wetsuits - I'll take a look as I'm familiar with the quality of their other gear.

    Thanks TZ

  8. #8
    Master Reeny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcleminson View Post
    Sounds like the 4mm Decathlon suit might be too warm then.
    She might be glad to use the 4mm during the winter, so all is not lost.

    I always had two suits available depending on the weather conditions - and the amount of energy I expected to use.
    Dried wetsuits are easier to get into - wet ones are a nightmare (and cold). So the second suit was always there as a back up.

  9. #9
    Master
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    Women feel the colder more than men as a norm. So I would take that to account in any comparisons you are getting.

  10. #10
    If you’re looking for speed, keeping your legs up is really important. Good suits will be lightweight at the shoulders and thick in thigh area for buoyancy.

  11. #11
    Craftsman
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    Wetsuits

    Try and get an open water swimming specific one, not a surf specific one. The movements / suits are similar but not the same as surfers are not as consistent in movement - I am a surfer not an open water swimmer but my wife has done a bit and her suit is noticeably more flexible in certain areas.

  12. #12
    Master
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    Shameless plug for an acquaintance of mine https://www.lomo.co.uk

  13. #13
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanm_3 View Post
    Shameless plug for an acquaintance of mine https://www.lomo.co.uk
    Thank you. Just what I have been looking for.

  14. #14
    Master andyjay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tintin View Post
    Try and get an open water swimming specific one, not a surf specific one.
    Exactly this.

    To swim in a wetsuit it is much preferable to have a swim or triathlon wetsuit as this is what they are designed for. Lomo.co.uk do reasonably priced ones and also look at the DHB suits at Wiggle or look for an ex-rental suit as they are often cheaper. Although there may not be many around this year, due to lockdown etc.

    I would think that a 3/2 wetsuit would be OK, it is possible to add specific extra layers under them, rather than getting a thick one which could make your daughter overheat.

    If the water is cold, a useful trick is to wear two swimming hats, or get a neoprene hat and/or gloves and boots. If your extremities are warm, then the thickness of the suit is less important.

  15. #15
    Craftsman Kris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanm_3 View Post
    Shameless plug for an acquaintance of mine https://www.lomo.co.uk

    I buy a lot of kayaking and other kit from Lomo. Great kit for the price and made well.

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