Wet Suits and Marathon Swimming

If you need help to cross the lake, get in a boat.

Wet suits are worn regularly by triathletes and the public get the mistaken impression that such suits are accepted apparel for long distance swims or marathon swims. To increase the number of entrants in their events (which helps to cover costs and/or maximise profit), a number of bodies have permitted the use of wet suits in their competitions.

The Scientific Facts: The following papers were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. They show:

Chatard,J-C et al. (1995): Wet suit effect: A comparison between competitive swimmers and triathletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 27(4):580-586.

Toussaint HM et al. (1989): Effect of a triathlon wet suit on drag during swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 21(3):325-328.

Trappe TA et al. (1996): Physiological responses to swimming while wearing a wet suit, Int. J. Sports Med. 17(2):111-114.

Trappe TA et al. (1995): Thermal responses to swimming in three water temperatures: Influence of a wet suit. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 27(7):1014-1021.

A separate report also exists on the web, attributing the data to the Human Performance Laboratory at the Faculty of Kinesiology. of the University of Calgary in Canada. The authors, however, are not identified and it is not presented as peer-reviewed material. The report outlines significant advantages, in terms of reduced times, when wearing the VO2 Stealth wetsuit, or other wetsuits, when compared to a conventional swim suit.

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Created: 17th October 1999
Last Updated: 17th October 2004