For triathletes focused on their first open water swim, many questions often exist. What should be the swim strategy? How do you handle choppy water or difficult crowds? What is transition 1 like? Sometimes, even the more basic questions need to be answered first, such as “what do you wear under the wetsuit?”
Our thorough article on triathlon clothing describes the ins and outs of what to wear from swim to run in a tri, so we won’t rewrite what we provided there. There are a few quick ways to answer this question, however, and we will attempt to do that here.
In short, the best thing to wear under your wetsuit during a training swim or a race is exactly what you would wear for your bike and run legs of the event. For men, this may or may not include your top — if you plan to simply wear a workout shirt for the latter two events, there is no way you want to get that wet during the swim. But for racers dressing up in your traditional tri gear, the wetsuit goes on right over it.
A good pair of tri shorts are key to the race, and as long if you have truly purchased shorts made specifically for triathlon, they should be low-profile and hardly be noticeable under your wetsuit. As for the top, mean and women might both consider wearing a singlet — a tri-specific top — which can also be worn under the wetsuit. Ditto for women sporting a sport top. Those who go all-out and choose to wear an actual triathlon suit can easily wear that under the wetsuit.
The key is to remember that everything under your wetsuit will get very very wet — this might go without saying, but the wetsuit will not actually keep any of your clothing from making contact with water. Therefore, everything under the wetsuit needs to be made with quick dry technology, and any tri-specific singlets, shorts, or suits normally are.
As with everything tri-related, remember the mantra of “nothing new on race day.” Always test your wetsuit in a practice session, searing the exact clothing that you plan to use in the race, making sure it is both comfortable under the wetsuit as well as able to dry quickly once out of the water.