If you are not a dedicated athlete or serious surfer but enjoy taking part in Triathlons as a hobby and surfing when you get the opportunity, you might be looking to save some money on the equipment you buy. You might be thinking that you do not really need two wetsuits and wondering whether you could use your Triathlon wetsuit for surfing – or vice-versa. The short answer is “yes”, you could but it would not be ideal – read on to discover why.
Differences in Wetsuit Design and Construction
The construction of Triathlon wetsuits is very different from that of suits designed for surfing. They do provide some thermal protection and buoyancy but not as much as surfing ones.
They are often made of a thinner material to offer maximum flexibility so that the shoulders arms and legs are unimpeded during swimming. This degree of flexibility is not so important when surfing.
This thinner material also minimizes the risk of overheating for the Triathlon swimmer who will be exerting a huge amount of energy during the swim. The risk of overheating is the reason why wearing a wetsuit in competitions that take place in warmer waters is not permitted. Conversely, surfers will often need more thermal protection even in similar water temperatures, simply because they are not exerting themselves as much.
The skin of a Tri suit can also be more prone to damage and tears if worn during surfing, as the wearer is much more likely to come into contact with sharp rocks, pebbles, and coral, whereas the area Tri-athletes swim in, will be clear of any such obstacle.
Many of these suits do not have an inner lining either. The reasons for this are to cut down on the thickness and to improve flexibility. This makes them more vulnerable to damage when surfing if paddling on the board and at wear points such as knees and elbows.
In addition, Tri suits have a slick, water-repellent surface, to reduce water resistance and drag. This can give a swimmer the competitive edge and make a significant difference in timings. However, in the case of surfing, this is not necessary.
In competition, it is vital to have a suit that is quick to get out of so that transition time between getting out of the water and pedaling away on the bike is as short as possible. This is not necessary on a surfing wetsuit; many of these have back zippers and take longer to remove.
A Surfing wetsuit also provides greater buoyancy in the lower part of the suit. This may not be right for swimming, as it tends to raise the legs too high in the water for the kick stroke to be as effective as possible.
In Conclusion, You Can Wear Your Triathlon Wetsuit for Surfing!
If you only buy one suit and you are just an ‘occasional’ surfer but more competitive Tri-athlete, it would be better to wear a Triathlon wetsuit for surfing rather than the other way around. The design of the surfing suit is more likely to impede you in competition because of greater water resistance, too much buoyancy, and reduced flexibility.
The potential drawbacks are that a Tri suit is likely to be more expensive than an entry level surfing suit so wearing it while on your board could result in expensive damage to the suit or feeling cold without wearing some thermal protection of some sort.