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4795 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: May 9, 2011 9:15 AM by BT.ROB
KevinDouglas Amateur 15 posts since
Jul 30, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Apr 30, 2011 6:07 PM

Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question

Hi everyone, i'm new to the sport of triathlon this year & completed my first sprint in April. Since I'm not a great swimmer, I did a tri with a pool swim. Now that I've done it, I'm ready to try open water & have registered for 2 more: the Patanella Flat as a Pancake Triathlon (Raritan Bay, Staten Island) & the Niantic Bay Triathlon (Niantic Bay, CT).


So my question is around wetsuits. I figure the water temp for the Pancake Tri (june 5th) will warrant a wetsuit, so I want to get one, but I'm leery of ordering online for fit issues & am not sure how to go about this.


Should I get a sleeveless or will I be too cold? If I get a fullsuit, will it be too hot for the Niatntic Tri in august?


If I order online, what are the odds of the suit actually fitting? Are there wetsuit retailers near Philadelphia PA? (I couldn't find any)


Any advice on going about the purchase would be helpful. I've read the info on about wetsuits (, but I'm not sure it answered all my questions.


Also, is there a site to go to that keeps historic water temps? I feel like thats good info when prepping for a tri/figuring out what kind of suit to get, but I haven't been able to find these records.


Thanks for any help, I appreciate it!




Race Results:

  • Moriates Legend 292 posts since
    Jul 19, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 2, 2011 1:10 PM (in response to KevinDouglas)
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question

    Plain and simple.  I full is always faster and better to swim with in any condition unless it does not fit your body.


    There are some companies out there that will allow you to return a suit that does not fit if not used.



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  • BT.ROB Legend 270 posts since
    May 12, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. May 2, 2011 2:49 PM (in response to KevinDouglas)
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question


    Welcome to triathlons! I can't imagine the Atlantic is ever warm enough, even in the bays, not to use a wetsuit. Since you are faster and more buoyant in them why wouldn't you use one? Sleeves give you more of the same but can feel restrictive. It is more of a personal choice. I have rented from a local running/triathlon store (check them out in the Philly area) but have ended up buying both sleeveless and sleeved wetsuits from Xterra ( They have a 30-day trial period with a money back guarantee (you can use it in those 30 days to see how you like it, how it fits, etc). They also have a rental program online, where you can discount a purchase if you have rented.


    Around here (not on either coast), the state parks with lakes post water temps for the fishermen. You may try that source if there are parks near the triathlon venues. Also try the Coast Guard or NOAA websites (just guessing).


    Good luck and have fun.



  • Chocolate Thunder 303 Pro 69 posts since
    Jan 8, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. May 4, 2011 2:18 AM (in response to KevinDouglas)
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question



    First off, welcome to the addiction.


    BT.ROB is right on.  I think it's NOAA that keeps track of water temps, but also some of the local fishing websites will also have water temps.


    I googled water temps and I found this for Niantic Bay, CT:


    And I found this for Raritan Bay:

    In the 7th paragraph it says "Water temperatures range from about 33 F in late January to 78 F f in late August."


    My vote is for a full wetsuit, if you're going to get one at all.  There should be tri store in your area that would rent a suit, but I always caution people about renting wetsuits because there's two types of triathletes: 1) Those that admit to peeing in their wetsuit, and 2) those that lie and deny it. At the very least, you should be able to try a few on and get an idea of the size you need.  Then, you can really start the shopping and trying out.


    Does that help?



  • Niftygirl16 Expert 54 posts since
    Feb 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question

    Chocolate Thunder 303 wrote:


    but I always caution people about renting wetsuits because there's two types of triathletes: 1) Those that admit to peeing in their wetsuit, and 2) those that lie and deny it.


    Well now, I'll just file that right under "Good Sh*t To Know"  LOL!!!!!

    "At the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe."

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  • BT.ROB Legend 270 posts since
    May 12, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. May 5, 2011 8:59 AM (in response to KevinDouglas)
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question


    I wouldn't worry about the differences between sleeved and sleeveless. I have both and prefer to swim in the sleeveless just because it is not as restrictive on my arms and swimming motion. The amount of neoprene in the arms compared to the body of the wetsuit is a small fraction. The Volt is a great valuef or beginners who are not sure how many tris they will do. In colder water, you can lather up sunscreen on the arms for a little protection. I would hesitate to use Vaseline because you need to keep it off the neoprene. But your arms are moving and pumping blood so I haven't found it to be a problem after a couple of minutes. Same with your hands. Feet can get cold but booties/socks can be prohibited if they are perceived to give an advantage (fin-like). Same with webbed gloves. You can always clear it with the race director. I have used a neoprene cap under the race cap and know others that use two swim caps. For me, having a cap that covers the ears is important as I am sensitive to cold in the ear canals (I am hesitant to use ear plugs as I have a hard enough time getting music ear buds to fit).


    When I talk about cold water it is in the 50's as races through June around here are in reservoirs filled with snow melt (which right now still hasn't come out of the Utah mountains). Temps into the 60's are fine sleeveless, sans neoprene cap, or anything else to keep warm except the wetsuit.


    Here's another tip: at cold weather races, I put those handwarmer bags that are used for skiing and other winter sports into my bike shoes before the swim and then move them to the running shoes just to keep them a little warm. I also use the toe warmers that have adhesive right under the tongue of the bike shoes, while biking, and then move those to the running shoes for the run. Knee warmers, arm warmers, close-fitting wind breaker or vest and wool socks are useful to avoid hypothermia during cold races (air temps below 60 or so).



  • quadzilla1 Expert 39 posts since
    May 30, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. May 6, 2011 4:26 AM (in response to KevinDouglas)
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question



    I use and swear by a full suit. The one I use is the 2XU V:1 and absolutely love it. I cannot stand being cold and every opportunity that I can use the wet suit, I most certainly will.  I also do the same thing as BT, I will place those  adhesive toe warmers in my bike shoes so that I can get feeling back to my toes as quickly as possible.


    Usually, by the run, my toes are in good shape.


    Back to the suit... If you are looking at used suits, take your time putting it on and taking it off.  Do this several times. I know this sounds like a pain in the *** but when you do this you will be able to see if there are any small nail tears in the neoprene. They happen and happen frequently if you do not put the suit on correctly. Remember, where you grab the suit to pull it up and on, the people before you probably grabbed it at the same location, so look there for the tears. And being a used suit, who knows who put it on before you and their skill level. They might have looked at it like most people look at renting a car, they typically drive it harder than their own vehicle.


    If you can, take the time and rent a couple of different suits before you buy and try them out in the pool. This way you can see which one feels better to you for comfort and range of motion.  I did this before dropping the coin that I did. I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to regret my purchase and I don't. I love my suit.


    Hope this helps.



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  • BT.ROB Legend 270 posts since
    May 12, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. May 9, 2011 9:15 AM (in response to KevinDouglas)
    Re: Swim Temp & Wetsuit Question

    Xterra is having a sale right now through May 31. Vortex 3 full (reg $400) for $199, sleeveless (reg $300) for $169. Use Coupon Code ACT


    By the way, the pull cord is in the back. Velcro fastener at the neck. I ususally velcro in the pull cord so it is easier to grab while exiting the water.


    I have no idea about the condition of the Xterra rentals, but since they didn't offer this service before, I assume that most suits are new-nearly new. The shop that I rented before I bought a wetsuit had current year models which they sold at the end of the year. Other than a few nicks and scratches, I found the rentals to be in good shape. You should always rinse/soak a wetsuit after you use it and you may want to beforehand as well.



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