TRIATHLETE TIPS by Brett Nichols, pro triathlete
Brett Nichols has worked at Landry's Boston store for the past three years. During that time, he earned his elite triathlon license and has competed as a professional ever since. In these Landry's Triathlete Tips, Brett shares what he has learned.
"You may be racing in what is technically summer, but the ocean and lakes of New England have their own calendar."
Biking is just one aspect of the triathlon, and during the swimming leg cyclists can seem like a two-wheeled fish out of water. So if you’re considering making an investment into tri gear beyond the essentials (a bike, goggles, and running shoes), a wetsuit should be at the top of your list as your next piece of equipment. Triathlon-specific wetsuits are a fantastic tool for training and racing. Here’s why:
You may be racing in what is technically summer, but the ocean and lakes of New England have their own calendar. Regardless of the air temperature, you won’t have any luck finding a body of water in New England that’s above 70 degrees until the end of June at the earliest. And, if you haven’t discovered this already, 60-something degree water feels painfully cold. Thus, investing in a wetsuit, especially early in the race season, will help to ensure that you don’t panic when you hit the cold water surrounded by hundreds of swinging arms and kicking legs.
Landry’s offers triathlon wetsuit rentals for that occasional weekend warrior just starting out. However, owning your own wetsuit will enable you to do open water swim workouts earlier in the season, even starting in April, which will help you swim faster than your pool-training competitors. Plus, having your own suit allows you to get familiar with your body’s movements while wrapped in the rubber suit. You don’t want the first time you put on a wetsuit to be 5:30am on race day …
Photo courtesy of Sun Multisport Events.
Wetsuits offer a serious advantage in open-water swimming by providing better buoyancy. This buoyancy brings the body higher out the water, providing better water displacement and lower surface friction, resulting in a swim-skin that cuts through the water. Depending on the athlete, a wetsuit can bring anywhere from a one to five minute benefit in a one-mile swim. (This is especially noticeable in weaker swimmers.) This is why most of your competitors will race in a wetsuit.
For racing, wetsuits are allowed whenever the water is 78 degrees or colder, which is the case for most races in New England. I still remember one of my first races 10 years ago, the Timberman Half-Ironman in NH, when I was one of less than 10 people in the entire field of 800 without a wetsuit. I was swimming at a disadvantage to 790 of my competitors. Before my next race, I bought a wetsuit.
Here at Landry’s, we feature Blueseventy wetsuits. I personally train and race in a Blueseventy suit because, unlike some other triathlon companies which also focus on tri accessories, Blueseventy is a swim company. Blueseventy also designs wetsuits for women’s body types with their Femme Fit, with specific forms in critical fit areas like the bust, torso, hips, wrists, and ankles. The company is completely devoted to understanding the mechanics of the body in the water, and they design wetsuits that are most effective at making every swimmer faster.
Case in point: Blueseventy has two lines of wetsuits, neutral and positive, which change the body’s center of buoyancy in the water. Less experienced swimmers tend to drag their hips and legs a little lower in the water than their torsos, so Blueseventy’s positive buoyancy suit, the Fusion, positions thicker neoprene rubber in a way that both levels a swimmer’s upper and lower body, and raises their entire body to a higher position in the water.
For their neutral buoyancy suits, the Reaction and the Helix, Blueseventy caters to experienced swimmers who are already balanced in the water and raises their entire body position with minimal restriction to their movement. It’s subtle, but a few millimeters of neoprene can make all the difference in the world for efficiency and comfort!
If you’re a newer and less experienced swimmer, the Fusion is probably the suit for you. If you’ve been swimming competitively since you were a little Nemo, you’ll probably benefit most from the Reaction or the Helix.
Photo courtesy of Brett Nichols, from Rev3 Triathlon at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Choosing the correctly sized wetsuit can be challenging — especially if you've never tried one on. If you plan on fitting into a wetsuit for the first time this season, let me assure you of a few things:
So don’t worry, these challenges don’t mean the suit you are trying on is too small. Your suit is properly sized if you can zip it and you see no wrinkles when you stand up with your arms at your side. Keep in mind that wetsuits are meant to fit when they are WET! And you’ll get a small layer of water between you and the suit, which makes it feel a little looser once you start to move around.
Try before you buy: For athletes new to wetsuits, I recommend renting one and going swimming with a friend to try it out before racing in one. Landry's has a great program that rolls the cost of your rental in to the price of your new suit, so it's no added expense to give one a test ride before making the purchase. We want you to be comfortable in your second skin.
Getting in your skin-tight rubber suit can be tricky, so here’s a low tech pro-tip: Put plastic grocery bags on your feet before stepping into your suit to help your legs slide through more easily. The same trick works with the arms, but I’ve never had enough trouble getting the sleeves on to warrant that silly factor of walking around like a bag-monster. Watch the video below for a demonstration.
Bevan Docherty, World Champion and 2X Olympic Medalist, shows how to put on a Blueseventy Helix wetsuit.
Getting out of your wetsuit quickly in the transition can also be tricky! The top of the suit slides off and turns inside-out fairly easily as you’re running from the water, so when you get to your bike, pull your wetsuit down to your knees, and then take a few marching steps in place to pull your feet out. You may find that you usually have to use your hands to pull the bottom of the suit around your ankles and heels. To avoid this, you can also carefully cut your wetsuit up to about 2 inches below the widest part of your calves. This will widen the hole, and make it easier for your foot to step out of the wetsuit quickly in transition.
I hope these tips help keep you fast and afloat out there. The swim can be the most challenging leg for many cyclists, so be sure to take all the advantages you can get!
To help sustain our triathlon community, Landry's stores offer road-bike and wetsuit rentals. We also have a wide range of cycling and triathlon products available.
Perform at your highest potential with energy gels, bars, drink mixes, and more. Your muscles crave electrolytes, sodium, and potassium to fire properly. Amino acids speed your recovery, and the delicious flavors go down easy!
|Triathlon Wetsuit Rentals
Rent a top-quality BlueSeventy Fusion wetsuit from Landry's store, available in both men's and women's sizes.