How to Put on a Wetsuit...and Then Take it Off Again

Photo credit: Shawn Parkin

Getting in and out of a wetsuit sometimes feels like an event in itself. Follow the steps below to suit up for your next event, and then quickly peel off your suit for a speedier transition.

[Photo credit: Shawn Parkin]

How to Put on a Wetsuit

  • Trim your nails so that you don't tear the neoprene.
  • Lube your neck and under arms with a non-petroleum-based lubricant such as Body Glide. This will help prevent the suit from chafing your skin. For easier removal of the suit, spray your lower legs with a vegetable-based cooking spray.
  • Place a sock or plastic shopping bag on one foot, then slide it into the leg of the suit and inch the suit up to your knee. Remove the sock or bag and repeat this process with the other leg. Depending on the suit, the bottom of the leg should be at least above your anklebone.
  • Inch the wetsuit up over one knee and then the next, pulling the suit from the point of body contact, not from the top of the suit.
  • If sitting, stand-up and inch the wetsuit in the same manner up over your thighs to your hips, making sure that the suit's crotch panel is snug. If it's not snug, work the suit up a bit from the ankles until it is flush with your crotch.
  • Pull the suit up to your lower chest and, if using a long-sleeve suit, put the sock or bag on your hand and then slip your hand into the suit inching it up to and over the shoulder. Remove the sock or bag and repeat this process with the other arm. As with the crotch fit, the under arm fit should be snug against your skin. If not, work the suit up a bit from your wrists until it's in place.
  • Grasp the zipper cord and pull up. Then, make sure that the zipper is in the "down-locked" position and the Velcro neck-strap is secure. This is one step where it's helpful to have some assistance.
  • Circle your arms and then squat down to double check the crotch, neck and shoulder fit, and make adjustments if necessary.
  • Finally, add one more application of cooking spray to the outside of the lower legs and arms of the suit; this aids in wetsuit removal. Now you're ready to hit the water.

More: Triathlon 101: Tri Suit or Wetstuit?

How to Take Off a Wetsuit

  • As soon as you stand-up at the end of your swim, reach for the zipper cord, unzip the suit, and pull it down to your waist as you move toward the transition area.
  • Once you arrive at your transition spot, grab the wetsuit at your waist and pull it all the way down to your ankles. Step one foot on the crotch and then pull the opposite foot out of the suit. Repeat this motion for the other leg.
  • If the suit gets "stuck," use your hands as a "shoe-horn" to aid in removal.

Now you're free to saddle-up and ride!

More: 5 Tips for Superhuman Transitions

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