Leave the Wetsuit at Home?

By Pete Williams

No wetsuits needed?

Nice piece in The Tampa Tribune today previewing the start of triathlon season, which kicks off with this weekend’s Escape from Fort De Soto Triathlon in St. Petersburg and continues two weeks from now with the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, also in St. Pete, which serves as the national season opener.

The story focuses on how swimming is the barrier for most would-be triathletes. The Escape from Fort De Soto Tri usually is wetsuit legal, which means that athletes can wear a wetsuit for the swim since water is typically below 78 degrees. Actually, you can always wear a wetsuit anyway but if the temperature is 78.1 or higher, you’re ineligible for age-group awards.

With balmy weather in the Tampa Bay area in recent weeks, water temperatures are approaching the 78.1 mark; Bay News 9 reports 77 degrees at the moment. Either way, I’m ditching the wetsuit this year. I’m a weak swimmer and the extra buoyancy speeds me along, but I don’t like the feel of wetsuits. Plus you can make up any time lost by not wearing a suit in transition, where you don’t have to squirm out of the rubber.

Another reason to love triathlon in Florida. Where else can a triathlete entertain the idea of racing from mid-April through the end of the year without a wetsuit?


Filed under Races, Swimming, Triathlon

2 responses to “Leave the Wetsuit at Home?

  1. Andrea

    Ack…I am a San Diego tri-girl and I am moving to Florida. I was doing a search to see if I HAVE to ditch my wetsuit! I have gotten used to it…especially at the beginning and end when you are like a herd of cattle…that thing keeps me up!. I have had people pull my legs & me under water….kick me in the face…swim over me…oh yeah-big time anxiey-like you, I am NOT a strong swimmer! In fact, I FEAR THE NO WETSUIT FLA SCENE! I feel like a 3 year old when the Mom is about to take away the water wings…can I get a 1/2 suit or alike??

    • Andrea — Not to worry! For starters, our water is generally much calmer than the San Diego area (especially here on the West Coast of Florida). So you get the added buoyancy of salt water (in the Gulf of Mexico) without the merciless pounding of the ocean. People tend to wear wetsuits in our April races on the West Coast, though we had an especially warm spring and nobody did this year. But I’m a cowardly swimmer too and I’d rather go without.

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