This can be a very daunting and confusing thing to do.
Firstly, ask yourself, ‘what do I need it for’?
If you are going to be an occasional dipper, then a cheap wet suit would do. You can get one from Sports direct, Mountain Warehouse even Aldi. You may even decide that a shorty wet suit would be more comfortable or maybe you will use it for more than one sport. These types are general water sports wet suits used for kayaking, paddle boarding even surfer (though surf wet suits tend to be much thicker).
Why wear an open water wet suit?
The obvious answer they will help keep you warm.
Open water is usually colder than you expect, every year people ‘even good swimmers, drown’, this is usually attributed to cold water shock.
Your warm body, hits the colder water (difference between air temp and water temp) and induces a gasping response, followed by rapid breathing (hyperventilating), individuals start to panic, the cold effects your muscles ability to swim and you can’t get back to the side, at this point you are past the point of being able to self-rescue yourself.
‘How long will I be swimming for’?
Wet suits come in different thicknesses, usually thin is areas requiring movement shoulders, arms. Thicker around core and tops of legs. You can even get thermal wet suits for use in the winter. Everyone is different, our body clock and temperatures, our tolerances, this is why I don’t do temperatures it is much safer to listen to your body, how does your body react. It doesn’t matter about anyone else.
What do I look for in a wet suit?
I can’t understand, why the makers of wet suits, insist on making them black, so some of my favourite wet suits include Yonda ‘spook’ https://yondasports.com/product/2021-yonda-spook-wetsuit-womens-wetsuit/
As it has coloured sleeves, though recently they have changed the colour to pale blue, I have to say I preferred the green version that I have, I find these really nice to take on and off, the sleeves are more material than wetsuit and makes it much easier to swim in. The other one I like for the same reason is Orca, womens open water Core Wetsuit, has orange sleeves supper visible.
Zone 3 also do one now with coloured sleeves.
I can’t abide wetsuits with high collars, I much prefer Orca they have like a plunge neckline low and flat, Wiggles own as an entry level wetsuit are very robust https://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-moda-womens-wetsuit are great value for money.
Most swimming wet suits zip up at the back, some makes fasten top down, I have found these to be really difficult to do on your own but are supposed to be easier to undo (yet to be convinced).
If you struggle doing zip up, ask for help, make sure the inner flap is tucked inside. There is a method of fastening zips by yourself and that is to take hold of the zip cord and squat, as you squat pull up the cord.
These can be expensive purchases, where possible use gloves to put your wet suit on with, try to pull up using the inside of material, make sure get wet suit higher than ankles (as a rule), you don’t want any gathers, particularly behind the knees, get it as high as you can, you don’t want gapping under the crotch area, it will be really uncomfortably. Do the arms same as legs, you want to be able to get the material up over your shoulder.
Put a mat on the floor, if you want to invest check out these but there are lots out there do your own research too.
Standing on a mat prevents you treading dirt and gravel into the wetsuit as you try to take it off. Sit on a chair if it helps, alternatively flush the suit with water before you get out, that helps too, or remove in the water, just remember to remove tow floats, socks and shoes first or you will make it a nightmare of a job.
If you get any nicks, (usually from nails so try to keep short or wear gloves) these can be repaired with an adhesive called black witch https://www.wiggle.co.uk/mcnett-black-witch-neoprene-adhesive-28g
Other places stock it too, shop around for deals, there are other types too.
If you have a rip in your wetsuit try this company, https://www.bodylinewetsuits.co.uk/wetsuit-repairs/ you may be able to get it professionally repaired and save some money.
Washing afterwards I wash inside out with a few squirts of anti bacterial hand gel, it smells nice, kills all nasties and is not harmful. Once the inside is dry, I turn back the right way out, put on a hanger take inside to dry, don’t leave exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. If putting away in a cupboard I store inside out.
Well I hope you enjoyed the read, not extensive just to get you started, yes there are lots of other makes out there, try out what works for you, have fun and safe swimming.