“During a competition, wetsuits can help level out the playing field between proficient swimmers and beginners,” says Prager.
“The cheaper the wetsuit, the less elastic the material, so you’ll feel more restricted and have less range of motion during your swim.”
There are four different price points for suits, starting around $200 and ending around $1000. “It’s definitely worth investing the money for a slightly more expensive wetsuit so it doesn't hinder your performance—especially if you’re a beginner," says Prager. "But if you really can’t spend a lot of money on a wetsuit, go sleeveless, so your arms aren’t as restricted by cheaper, less flexible material." The majority of swimming wetsuits use Yamamoto rubber or neoprene and label it with numbers such as 38, 39, 40, and 44 aero dome (this material looks like it has golf ball dimples in it). The higher the number, the better the buoyancy, as well as the softer and more flexible the material. Check out the sleeveless SL Pursuit wetsuit, which has an Aqua-Flex collar seal to keep water out and reduce drag. ($250; AquaSphereSwim.com)