Can You Wear a Wetsuit in a Pool?
Can You Wear a Wetsuit in a Pool?
You’ve just bought your first wetsuit, carefully selecting the perfect one for you. You have done your research, thought about what you plan to use your wetsuit for, chosen the right style and the right thickness. It’s just arrived on your doorstep and you put it on for the first time. Everything fits perfectly. The next step, rightly so, is to get into the water to get a feel for what it’s like to swim in this wetsuit. Maybe you’ve worn a wetsuit in the past, but there is something special about swimming in a new wetsuit for the first time.
You search the lakes, rivers, and oceans around you for the inaugural swim, but either you aren’t comfortable enough just yet to do an open water swim or all of the open water is too far or not easily accessible.
Which leads you to; can you wear a wetsuit in a pool? The answer may surprise you. Keep reading and we’ll dive right in.
What Are Wetsuits Made Of?
Wetsuits are used for a variety of activities and work by trapping a layer of water between the body and the wetsuit. This layer of water acts as an insulation that helps keep you warm while you’re in the water. Because of how they are used, wetsuits have to be resilient so they can bounce back into shape after stretching to fit your body and sturdy so they last for a long time while being resistant to rips, degradation from the sun and saltwater.
When neoprene was invented and it was starting to be used for wetsuits, it became quickly apparent that this synthetic rubber material had all of the characteristics needed for high quality, long-lasting wetsuits. Neoprene is almost completely resistant to degradation caused by the sun and salt, is resilient, and has high tensile strength. Wetsuit manufacturers have been utilizing neoprene for decades.
While neoprene has great qualities that make it ideal for wetsuits, some things can make a wetsuit break down faster than it should, including sun, salt, and chlorine.
Wearing a Wetsuit in the Pool
For starters, there are different types of pools – saltwater and chlorinated. Can you wear a wetsuit in a saltwater pool? This should be okay if you rinse the wetsuit thoroughly after you are finished. Swimming in a saltwater pool is very similar to swimming in the ocean, except there is probably more salt in the ocean. Salt can make a wetsuit breakdown faster, but if it is rinsed well with freshwater and then stored properly, swimming in saltwater is okay.
Answering the question about a chlorinated pool is a little more challenging because there are two schools of thought – one camp says it is okay to swim in a chlorinated pool as long as it doesn’t happen regularly and the wetsuit is rinsed thoroughly with freshwater after, the other camp says it’s a bad idea and should never happen. If you choose to swim with a wetsuit in a chlorinated pool, our best advice is to immediately rinse the suit with freshwater using a wetsuit shampoo and properly dry the suit.
What you decide is ultimately up to you, but my personal preference is to keep my wetsuit out of chlorinated pools. Wetsuits are incredible tools and can make swimming in certain situations much easier. But wetsuits only make things easier if they are properly cared for and ready to be used when you need it. To that end, I like to optimize my wetsuit for a long life by making sure it is properly cleaned, properly stored, and kept away from anything that could damage it (i.e. sharp objects and chlorine).
Benefits of Training in a Pool
While wearing a wetsuit in a chlorinated pool may not be a good idea, training for an open water swim in a pool can help build your confidence in the water. Sure, swimming in a pool takes away some of the challenges of open water swimming (there isn’t current in a pool and you can touch the bottom in most lap pools), but you can use a pool to help you train for sighting and swimming in a straight line in the open water.
Instead of relying on the lane ropes and the lines on the bottom of the pool, pick a spot out of the water as your focus point. Every few strokes bring your head out of the water and find your object, continuing this pattern until you are on the other side of the pool. Learning to rely on a fixed point outside the pool will help the transition into an open water swim because you will already be familiar with sighting in a more controlled environment.
There may be times you are tempted to wear your wetsuit in the pool, and sometimes when it may be a great idea for training. Just be sure to find a saltwater pool instead of a chlorinated pool (if possible) and rinse your wetsuit with fresh water as soon as you are finished.