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All you need to know about wetsuits for our Large Outdoors Wild Swimming trips...
Why are you reading this? Have you booked a Wild Swimming trip with us?
If so, you might well have questions about which type of wetsuit would be suitable for our trips. The first thing we would say is, that this is ‘Wild Swimming’ rather than Open Water swimming. The difference being, that we are going swimming to explore places rather than all out training as a Triathlete or Open Water swimmer might.
Large Outdoors Wild Swimming trips:
So, how can we help you choose a wetsuit?
Well firstly, there is no need to spend hundreds of pounds on a specialist Triathlon or Open Water wetsuit. These are made of specialist materials that are designed for flexibility, smooth on the outside for gliding through the water, treated with care, but are not very abrasion resistant and are usually 3mm in thickness.
Instead, we recommend that you swim with us in a ‘normal’ or ‘surfing’ style wetsuit that has material on both sides. They are much more durable, at least 3-5mm in thickness, and often warmer when swimming at slower speeds, rather than training.
So, don’t purchase the shiniest, brightest or most expensive ‘Swimming’ wetsuit you can find. Instead, consider the following factors if you do want to purchase a suit for Wild Swimming with Large Outdoors.
If you have a surfing style wetsuit, it will do just fine. It will need to be between 3-5mm. However, it is likely to be very suitable for what we do; exploration swimming in places where there might be rocks to negotiate on entry or exit rather than gravel ponds or sandy beaches. The 5mm suits are warmer.
If you do need to purchase a suit, there are a few things to consider that might aid your choice.
Comfort: In order to swim in a wetsuit, it needs to be comfortable. It needs to be close fitting, as in next to the skin, with the least amount of baggy areas as possible because they work by trapping a small layer of water between the skin and the suit. If new to wearing wetsuits, it will feel a little strange, like wearing socks for the first time after a summer in bare feet!
Fit: The neck should be snug, but not restrictive. If it is too loose, it will allow too much water in and ‘flushing’ will take place, removing the warm layer next to your skin.
This is the same for the wrists and likewise, the ankles.
Movement and flexibility are key: You will be swimming, so with the suit on, make some swimming movements to find out if it is flexible. You should be able to move your arms freely and check there is sufficient material under the armpits that the suit isn’t pulling at the seams. Most surfing wetsuits are designed with this movement in mind, because it is very similar to swimming movement.
As a simple, cost effective, warm suit for our trips; you might want to consider something similar to these:
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