Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sleeved or Sleeve - Less for Wetsuits
Three wetsuit seminars in three weeks and the # one question is? Should I get a full sleeve or sleeveless wetsuit? The quick answer to this question is that you will always be best off, in a well fitted full sleeve wetsuit. The key words in this are well fitted! Swimming in a well fitted full sleeve wetsuit that is the perfect fit for you, should feel like swimming in no wetsuit at all - just warmer and faster!
In a blog I wrote last year I go over the details of great wetsuit fit - It's All About Fit
The sleeveless wetsuit market is driven by following factors:
1. People wanting the absolutely least expensive wetsuit that is being offered. No question that if this is what they want, all of the wetsuit manufacturers offer this in their lines - Nineteen included, with our Pipeline SL.
2. People worrying that they may over-heat in a full sleeve wetsuit. A possible reason, but this would only be for Ironman distance swims( 4 km) in water that is in the high '70'sF. FYI - The temperature cut-off for races is 78F.
3. People who have bought a ill-fitting full sleeve wetsuit as their first wetsuit and have sworn off full sleeve suits forever. This happens frequently. The first time wetsuit shopper does not take the time to find the best fitting wetsuit for themselves. They buy a "deal". They get duped by certain gimmicks or marketing. In the end they have a wetsuit that does not fit them properly and they feel a sleeveless suit will solve all those problems. The better approach is to obviously take the time to find a the best fitting wetsuit the first time and don't be lead astray by deals, gimmicks or marketing( Again, check out the blog I wrote last year on this - link above).
4. Really big men or women - body-builder types who's arms are bigger than most people's legs! I have been doing this for years and I can size this sort of person up right away. I know just looking at them that trying to get them in a full sleeve wetsuit is going to be a struggle. So, I start right in on a sleeveless wetsuit for these folks. These are the only people who, right away should consider a sleeveless suit.
There is no question that a sleeveless wetsuit will make the arms and shoulders more mobile. I would be lying if I said otherwise. However, while the mobility "problem" is solved, this leads to several other issues. The arms and the shoulders may be more mobile, it's now really hard to get a good seal under and around the arms. It might work well for one person, but for another it does not work so well, and you have water channeling into the suit and soon you are dragging around an extra 5 - 10 pounds of water in the suit. Also, I see more neck chaffing issues with sleeveless wetsuits. In a well fitted full-sleeve suit, the collar is anchored down and is stablized because it is attached to the shoulders and the sleeves. In a sleevless suit the collar tends to move independently and more movement means more friction and more chaffing issues. Finally, while it may not seem like a lot, that extra rubber on the sleeves does make you more buoyant and allows you to pull slightly more water per stroke!
When shopping for a wetsuit - take your time. In almost all cases, you will be better off in a well fitting full suit compared to a sleeveless wetsuit. With wetsuits - fit is everything!