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As I scuba dive a lot I tend to see a lot of people swimming in open water, some seem to choose to have a regular wetsuit, and some seem to use an apnea wetsuit. Fresh or salt water, I've seen a mix in both.

Apnea wetsuits are neutral buoyancy, where as regular neoprene wetsuits are positive buoyancy. What would be the benefits of the one suit over the other for swimming, if any?

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Positive buoyancy is useful in a swimming wetsuit as it reduces drag by lifting the swimmer in the water. Less swimmer in the water, less drag to overcome, so the swimmer can be faster for the same effort. Swimming wetsuits will also have a smooth covering to further reduce the drag.

Typical triathlon wetsuits will also control the buoyancy in different places to aid the swimmer. For example, some Huub wetsuits are available in 3:5 and 4:4 buoyancy. 3:5 uses 3mm neoprene in the chest and 5mm in the legs, giving the legs additional buoyancy to stop them from sinking. The 4:4 wetsuit uses 4mm neoprene in the chest and legs, designed for more horizontal swimmers.

  • That's really interesting! I use 3mm neoprene in my shortie, and can feel the difference easily when I take it off in the water, but I didn't realise you can get different thickeness in the same suit like that for swimming, that's great. – Aravona Oct 17 '18 at 9:10

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