USA Triathlon Adopts New Wetsuit Regulation

Beginning in 2013, wetsuits may not exceed five millimeters in thickness

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Following extensive research and consideration, USA Triathlon announced today that beginning in 2013 use of wetsuits exceeding five millimeters in thickness will not be permitted at USAT-sanctioned events.

The new regulation, which falls under Article 4.4 Wetsuits of the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules, states: “Effective January 1, 2013, any swimmer wearing a wetsuit with a thickness measured in any part greater than five millimeters shall be disqualified.”

By implementing this rule change, USA Triathlon falls in line with the international standard of five millimeters recognized by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and other National Governing Bodies.

The adoption of this rule is designed to eliminate any competitive advantage gained by enhancements in wetsuit technology in recent years. Studies have shown there is a marked and measurable performance benefit to the use of certain wetsuits, specifically added buoyancy effectively reducing passive drag. These performance benefits have led to an increased, and artificially induced, reduction in physical demand required during the swim leg of a triathlon and an increase in speed.

USAT recognizes that there may be wetsuits currently available on the market that are greater than five millimeters in thickness. Consequently, the organization has implemented a phase-in period of the rule to allow the use of wetsuits that currently do not meet the thickness requirement. This announcement of the new regulation serves as notice that the rule change will come into effect in 2013.