A TIP FROM EMILIO: THIS ONE APPLIES TO ALL WETSUITS
It is the start of the season. Just before your first race you pull out your wetsuit. You have not worn it in months. You put it on and it just plain feels tighter than you remember it feeling.
Did it shrink?
Is the rubber less flexible?
Do you need a new wetsuit?
NO, NO, and NO
…well, more like sort of, sort of, and yes unless you already own a T1 (just kidding).
The Tip: Soak your wetsuit a few days before the race. Soak it in a tub with 3 inches of water for about 5 minutes a few days before your race.
The Reason: Wetsuits are kind of like sponges. When they are exposed to continuous dry air they get hard, become brittle, have less stretch, and they tend to crack and tear. When they are moist they are supple and flexible. Believe it or not, your wetsuits stay moist for days, even weeks between uses, though appear dry… just like a sponge. Over time, as it gets really dry, it gets stiff and not-so-supple, thus feeling like it shrunk…like the way a sponge shrinks up. More wetsuits rip at the start of the season than any other time of the year. Good if you are me, bad if you are you. But your wetsuit will last longer if you wet it before you wear it!
Technical Note for those of you who care to read it: My analogy to a sponge has more to do with the fabric and the laminates used to hold that material against the rubber. We use laminates that are not petroleum-based, respond to water, and have no VOC (volatile organic compounds) which is why T1 Wetsuits are great for people who have many different types of contact dermatitis. I am keeping things simple in the explanation so as to not confuse people who really are interested in the spirit of my tip, because it really works. I am intimately involved in the production of our GreenGoma Rubber and have been making wetsuits since 1999. Wetsuit rubber is a closed-cell rubber (roughly like tires, inner tubes, and rubber bands). Water does not permeate it but it does permeate any material laminated to it. Degradation of wetsuit rubber is a function of time and is accelerated by exposure to heat, UV light, chlorine, salt, sweat, folding of the wetsuit, improper care, as well as bacterial formation from prolonged moisture too.
(Lets finish with a bit of triathlon history) While it has been updated from its initial content, this tip was first posted by me on the internet in 1994 via a newsgroup called rec.sport.triathlon. Yes, this was before the existence of the world wide web, and even before I started making T1 Wetsuits. At the time I raced in a Quintana Roo when it was owned by Dan Empfield, better known as Slowman from slowtwitch.com.