Wetsuit problems

I know this has nothing to do with Zwift, and I’m sorry about that but I just wanted to get some ideas.

I did a triathlon today, the water was 64 degrees. Once we started swimming I felt a ton of pressure on my chest and around my neck, I started to freak out because I couldn’t breath well. After a while I could breath normally. What the heck happened?! So many people quit because the wetsuit was pressurizing way to much. (This was my first time using a wetsuit too, I didn’t enjoy it very much)

Any ideas?


Liz :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Wetsuits do take a little getting used to. Couple thoughts.

First, while it’s too late now, I’d never recommend trying something for the first time in the actual event. Practice with a wetsuit, at least once (couple times if possible), to get used to it before the race itself.

Make sure you’re getting water into the suit. Depending on the start type, this can be easier (in water start) or harder (run in / jump in start). But pull on the neck opening a bit while in the water, and get plenty of water all through the suit. Your shoulders will move better, your hips will roll better, and you’re less likely to overheat.

And then of course, it’s got to be the right size. You’re wrapping yourself in a sausage casing, and then trying to swim in it. If it’s too tight, it won’t be comfortable at all. Again, some water in the suit will help a lot. And also again, doing some test swims in advance will help know if it fits right or not.

I’m sure someone else will also have some thoughts as well.

Ride On

The obvious question is, was it the wetsuit causing the pressure across the chest?

It might have been a mild panic attack which is all to common in the swim start. Aswell as all the tips about wetsuit sizing, make sure you spend the time acclimatising to the water and people around you especially if its cold. Dont be afraid to start out wide and give yourself some room to settle in.

Not one id recommend if you just spent a fortune on a new wetsuit but some people like to cut the neck lower to give you more space to breathe in your suit.

I have nothing to add about the wetsuit, but well done for doing a triathlon!


I’m guessing the wetsuit was not used for a long time and this is what caused the issue. What I did was soak my wetsuit in a bathtub for an hour or so at the start of a season and then use it once a week for training sessions in the pool. If you do use it in a chlorine pool, make sure you rinse it good after.

I never cut the neck, but I trimmed the leg so I could remove it faster.

I know a few people who have trimmed the neck down so its not around their throat - Makes it feel less claustrophobic for them…

That’s a great call out too! I remember my first triathlon, it was an in-water start, so I was hanging out in the back of the group, just starfishing, waiting for the horn to go off; everything was great! Then I started swimming, and for the first 300 meters or so, I was convinced I was going to die right there. The adrenaline, the churn of the water, getting kicked a couple times … the panic was real. It was important for me to remember, I had been training for this and wasn’t going to die, but also that I had been training for this, and needed to stay within myself. Let the super fast swimmers go, and just do what I had been doing all along (which for me that first time, was a 1500 meter breaststroke … not efficient, but it got me there).

Liz, you didn’t say if this was your first tri, or just your first time in a wetsuit. If it was your first tri, it may just have been a ton of adrenaline and a touch of panic, that all subsided after a bit. Totally normal, and something that should lessen the next time. Keep at it!

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It’s not my first tri, in fact, it was my 15th tri. It was just the first time for me to use a wetsuit.

Yeah, I got to the front immediately because I’m a fast swimmer, I edged out a little bit after I got a hard kick in the jaw by someone doing breaststroke. :roll_eyes: The water was 64 something degrees so I freaked out after about 100yd. It was weird because I’m always jumpy before the swim start but I’ve never felt so scared during the swim before.

Maybe, I have used it in a pool before, just to test it. (I did rinse it out very well though)

Plus, I didn’t do a practice swim before we started either, I saw many other people doing it but I didn’t do it. Does anyone think that matters? Btw, I really appreciate the ideas.

Yeah, getting it over the timing chip sucks, they are so bulky it’s hard to just get that leg out.

My first time in cold water was a shock.
I literally could not breath.
I would say you just need more time adjusting to the cold or do what I did - I declared myself a Fair weather tri sprinter and stay out of the water if below 75.

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Practice swims are necessary, to warm up and to get used to the water. I also agree with getting a little water in the suit, as it keeps you warmer and is more comfortable. The feel also varies between short and longsleeve wetsuits. with sleeved wetsuits, less water gets in on the swim so there will be a little more pressure than with a sleeveless.

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Off topic but I saw this thread and thought…have zwift incorporated swimming into their repertoire. I was going to have to borrow the kids paddling pool to give it a try.

Yessir, I got a sleeveless. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: I’ll get used to the water and get some water in the suit next time. Ty

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This happened to me, very similar situation and ability. I did warm up before the race, but with the water so very cold I think it was just a reaction to the temp change, pressure on chest, and elevated heart rate at the start. . Getting some water in the front of the suit may help. Haven’t had an issue since. Rarely use a wetsuit now. Make sure to splash cold water on my face and arms before to give my brain a warning. Blowing bubbles with your face in the water is helpful. Enjoy your next race!

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Blowing bubbles in the water before the race is so very important and I can’t agree more.
When I had my first cold water shock episode the biggest issue I faced was a strong reflex preventing me from exhaling.
It was crazy, I had no problem with a deep breath in I just couldn’t get it out.

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If the water temperature is 77-degrees Fahrenheit or 25-degree Celsius , you don’t need a wetsuit. Any temperature below 77 F or 25 C you should wear a wetsuit, in some circumstances. The right wetsuit for the temperature is: 72F-77F (22C-25C) – Shorty during the morning, evening, and windy conditions.

Liz said the water was 64 degrees.