Factors Related to the Advantageous Effects of Wearing a Wetsuit During Swimming at Different Submaximal Velocity in Triathletes

J Sci Med Sport. 2008 Jul;11(4):417-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2007.02.005. Epub 2007 Mar 26.


This study was designed to compare the effects of wetsuit (WS) to swimsuit (SS) at identical relative velocities in a swimming flume. Thirteen triathletes performed a continuous progressive swimming test and submaximal steady state swimming tests with a WS and with a SS. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and the associated velocity at which the VO2max was achieved (VVO2max) were determined during the continuous progressive tests. Two 5 min swims (at 60% VVO2max (V(60%)) and 80% VVO2max (V(80%))) were then conducted to measure VO2max, blood lactate concentration (LA), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), the energy cost of swimming (Cs), stroke rate (SR) and stroke length (SL). No difference was found in VO2max, but VVO2max with a WS was 5.4% higher than with a SS. VO2 with a WS was lower than with a SS alone at V(60%), but not at V(80%). Cs with a WS was lower by 14.4% at V(60%) and 7.5% at V(80%) than with a SS. No differences were found in LA and RPE between suit conditions during both submaximal swims. Wearing a WS did not affect SL, but SR tended to be higher in a WS for both submaximal velocities. These results suggest that the benefits of wearing a WS are not only improvement in swimming performance and propulsion efficiency, but reduction in gross energy consumption in the swimming portion of triathlon races. Furthermore, when wearing a WS, incremental changes in SR rather than SL are associated with improved swimming performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Clothing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Swimming / physiology*


  • Lactates