When to Wear a Wetsuit in Triathlon

When should you wear a wetsuit during a triathlon?

This is a question we often get asked on race days. Our answer?? Ultimately, it depends.
The first factor is ALWAYS water temperature. USAT (USA Triathlon) governs many triathlon races. Their rules are highlighted below regarding specifics for wetsuit use during a triathlon race.

Our take in accordance with the noted water temp USAT guidelines below? It’s often up to you the athlete. While wetsuits can add a layer of confidence and slight buoyancy to your swim, they can cost you time in transition to get out of.

Our recommendations?? Read on…

  • We suggest athletes practice putting on and taking off their wetsuit.
  • We suggest athletes try swimming with and without a wetsuit to see which they might prefer for range of motion, mobility and overall comfort.
  • We suggest athletes try a few different suits during their swims (sleeveless, half sleeve, full sleeve)
  • Practice, practice and practice some more! Try out fast water pacing, try relaxed pacing – all with and without a suit on to see what feels best.

USAT Wetsuit Information

(current at the time of this article)

Wetsuit guidelines set forth by USA Triathlon. Those guidelines state:

  • USAT rules state that competitors may wear wetsuits if the water temperature is 78 degrees or lower.
  • USAT rules also state that if the water temperature is between 78.1 – 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards.
  • If the water temperature is 84 degrees or above, participants may NOT wear wetsuits.

Wetsuit requirements and recommendations for temperatures below a certain number are for safety reasons.

  • If the water temperature is below 65 degree a wetsuit is recommended for any competitor. Any type of wetsuit may be worn, (Long John or Full Suit).
  • If the water temperature is below 58 degree a wetsuit will be mandatory for any competitor.  Any person who is not wearing a wetsuit will not be allowed to compete. (any wetsuit is acceptable)