I like bodysurfing a lot but if you had asked me a few years ago about having a bodysurfing specific wetsuit, I would have thought you were crazy. It would have seemed an unnecessary and exorbitant luxury for a niche pursuit that could easily be covered by a general surfing wetsuit. A few years down the track and many, many waves later and I have changed my mind. Before going into the why - its probably best to look at what I think makes a great bodysurfing wetsuit.
It may seem obvious but unless you are in a location where the water is near or above body temperature then the more you are exposed to the water, the colder you will get. As a bodysurfer you are practically submerged all the time - which means you need more insulation than you would say surfing.
The warmer you are - the longer you bodysurf
When bodysurfing, you are the engine, the propellers and the rudder. In between getting ridiculously barreled, you are in constant motion, swimming or treading water. There is very little physical down time - part of the reason its such a great work out. Having a heavy or thick wetsuit may reduce your mobility which will lead to fatigue.
The more flex in the right places, the easier it is to swim.
The more of you that's in the water, the more of you that you need to propel through it. You do this by displacing the water around yourself. The greater the displacement - the greater the effort needed. By being buoyant there is less displacement required, which in turns leads to less effort and faster swimming. This is why certain swim suits were banned from the Olympics as an unfair technological advantage. No such issue with bodysurfing!
You could think of drag as related to buoyancy. After all, the more of you in the water the more surface area and more drag. I prefer to think about it as, being hydrodynamic by reducing the resistance to travelling through the water.
Flotation is good, drag is bad
I have to admit to another attribute, fit around the neckline. With all the rotation during free style swimming I am massively prone to a good chafing. So having a non intrusive and tight fitting collar is important. This is one of the main reason why I tend to avoid back zip surf suits like the plague.
So the best wetsuit for bodysurfing is thick and buoyant enough while still being flexible and sleek.
So where does one find such a contradiction in variables?
It was my good mate Vic that showed me the way. It turns out that triathlete suits are the perfect blend of form and function. Designed for swimmers, they incorporate key elements such as superior quality neoprene to provide optimum flexibility, shoulder mobility, thick front panels to enhance buoyancy and slick external coatings to reduce drag. In short they are the perfect bodysurfing wetsuit.
I had never thought I would have a wetsuit specific to just bodysurfing but once you get past the feeling of exposed shins, you will never look back. It really is that good
Taking the tri-suit for a spin
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.