How to cope with a non-wetsuit swim in a triathlon

Panicking about a non-wetsuit swim? It can be a little daunting, but with these tips there's no need to let a lack of rubber ruin your triathlon

The recent hot weather has resulted in lake temperatures rising to something resembling a warm bath. British Triathlon Federation competition rules state that wetsuits are forbidden in water temperatures above 22°c, so it’s likely that many races over the coming weekend will be declared non-wetsuit.

Swimming without a wetsuit can be incredibly daunting when you’ve practiced all season in that protective neoprene layer. Triathletes tend to rely on their wetsuit for buoyancy and speed- a non-wetsuit race can send even the most experienced athletes into a panic. However there’s no need to let the lack of rubber ruin your race, here are some tips to bear in mind if you are faced with a non-wetsuit triathlon…

Get in some practice

If time allows, head over to your local lake for a few training laps in just your trisuit. Get used to the feeling of the water on your skin as you move through the water- it’s quite a different sensation. You will be less buoyant and may need to consider your body position in the water, remember to keep your head, hips and heels in line.

Trust in your training

Remember that you are more than capable of swimming the distance. Look back over your training and remind yourself of the miles you’ve swam in the pool all without a wetsuit- you can do it!

Control the controllables

The water temperature is a factor completely beyond your control– don’t waste vital energy worrying about it. Focus on the aspects which you can control- your nutrition, your equipment and your attitude.

Be prepared

Usually the call is made on race morning regarding the use of wetsuits, so it’s worth bringing yours incase there is a last-minute change. The weather is unpredictable and an unexpected cold spell might mean that wetsuits are an option once again.

Think of the positives

Without a wetsuit, your transition times will be quicker- no more fumbling with the zip as you come out of the water. You won’t get any chafing around your neck and you won’t have to rinse and dry your wetsuit after the race.

Relax and enjoy

Swimming is always more effortless when you relax. Tensing up will hinder your stroke and prevent you from gliding through the water. It’s rare that we get to swim non-wetsuit in the UK so make the most of the opportunity before the lakes return to icy temperatures!

Have you ever swam non-wetsuit in a race? How did you get on?

6 Comments

  1. June 30, 2017 / 10:54 am

    I had no idea about non-wetsuit temperatures for Triathlons! Hmm, the idea of swimming in arm bath temperatures sounds lovely – perhaps not in a racing style though! 😉

    Thank you for teaching me something new, Lucy, and good luck with your up coming races.

  2. June 25, 2017 / 8:25 am

    I had no idea that water temperature dictated whether wetsuits should be worn or that they helped buoyancy! Learn something new everyday.

  3. June 24, 2017 / 1:57 pm

    Perfect timing for this post! I’ve been worried about having to do a non-wetsuit swim being so used to my wetsuit in OW. This has put me at ease.. I will have to try it.. I’d hate to get to my first tri and them tell me we cant wear wetsuits and I’m not prepared. Time to give it a go!

    • June 24, 2017 / 7:35 pm

      I doubt yours will be non-wetsuit in September, unless we have another heat wave around then but always worth practicing so you are prepared

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