Ask the Coach - Non Wetsuit Swim

By LifeSport Coach Lou Theiren

Dear Coach,

I recently qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and just found out that this was a non-wetsuit swim.  Why is this? and what can I do to prepare for this?


As great as wetsuits are for those who are a little weak in the swim, under the rules that govern Ironman events, they are prohibited when temperatures are over 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit (24.5 degrees Celsius).  The call on water temperature is made the morning of the event to ensure accurate readings.

In situations where wetsuits are prohibited, like the Ironman World Championships, the use of a speedsuit or swimskin are recommended.  These suits provide superior hydrodynamic and buoyancy and should be worn when possible!  They must be 100% textile material, (made only from nylon or lycra that do not have rubberized material) are worn over your race kit.

The speedsuit/swimskin or race kit cannot cover the neck, extend past the shoulders or the knees.  If you are wearing a long sleeve race top, make sure to either roll the sleeves past the shoulders or fold the unzipped top into the swimskin.

The easiest way to get used to this new type of equipment is to try it out and practice with it.  Wear it under your race kit during open water swims and even pools swims.  If you know your next race is going to be a non-wetsuit swim, leave your wetsuit in the garage for your next open water swims.  The more you swim without it the more comfortable and confident you will be on race day!

Enjoy the warm water!

Coach Lou

Beginner and experienced triathletes looking to start or improve their performances are invited to join the LifeSport team. Visit them on the web at or email LifeSport Coaching at Find more tips on Twitter @LifeSportCoach

LifeSport Coaching


Facebook twitter