Can You Wear a Wetsuit in a Pool? Science vs Preference

Jörg Matzdorff
Jörg Matzdorff

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Wetsuits are a staple for water enthusiasts engaging in activities like surfing, scuba diving, and open water swimming. Their insulating properties keep users warm in cold waters while offering protection against abrasions and UV exposure. However, when it comes to the controlled environment of a pool, the question arises: is wearing a wetsuit beneficial or necessary?

In this article, we delve into the debate surrounding wetsuits in pools. We’ll explore the potential advantages they offer for various activities, examine the drawbacks and considerations, and ultimately help you determine whether donning a wetsuit in the pool is the right choice for you. So, let’s explore the nuances of this topic together.

Key Takeaways:

  • Can you wear wetsuits in a swimming pool?
  • Are wetsuits allowed in swimming pools?
  • Can wetsuits in swimming pools get damaged?
  • Is it necessary to wear a wetsuit in a pool?

Wetsuits in a Pool – a Common Controversy

It is way more than just a question of personal preference. And while wearing a wetsuit out in the open water has multiple reasons, the list of reasons to wear it inside is considerably shorter. 

So the easy answer is “No!”? 

Absolutely not! Let’s delve into the common controversy surrounding wetsuits in pools. Explore the debate over the benefits, drawbacks, and considerations of wearing wetsuits for various aquatic activities so that in the end you can decide yourself.

Can You Wear Wetsuits in a Swimming Pool?

Before we get into the scientific pros and cons, let’s address the legal aspect. Is it even permissible to wear a wetsuit in a public swimming pool?

Whether it’s allowed to wear a wetsuit in a pool depends on the specific rules and regulations of the pool facility. In many cases, recreational pools may not have specific rules prohibiting wetsuits, but wearing one may still be uncommon or discouraged.

However, some pools, particularly those used for competitive swimming or training, may have stricter rules regarding attire to ensure fair competition and safety. In such cases, wearing a wetsuit in the pool may not be allowed during regular swim sessions or competitions.


Before wearing a wetsuit in a pool, it’s advisable to check with the pool staff or review the facility’s rules to ensure compliance and avoid any potential issues.

Is it necessary to Wear a Wetsuit in a Swimming Pool?

Some swimming pools on the other hand might even request wearing wetsuits for certain courses. Courses that might make it necessary to wear a wetsuit in a swimming pool might include:

  • Aquatic therapy: Individuals undergoing rehabilitation or therapeutic exercises in a pool may benefit from the added buoyancy and support provided by a wetsuit.
  • Specialized training: Swimmers, divers, or triathletes may use pool sessions for specialized training purposes, such as practicing open water swimming techniques or simulating race conditions. Wearing a wetsuit during these sessions can help mimic real-world conditions and improve performance.
  • Cold water acclimatization: In regions with colder climates, pool sessions may serve as a means to acclimate to cold water temperatures before engaging in outdoor water activities. Wearing a cold water wetsuit in the pool can provide thermal insulation and help individuals adjust to colder conditions gradually.
  • Water aerobics or fitness classes: Participants in water aerobics or fitness classes may choose to wear wetsuits for added warmth and comfort, particularly in indoor pools with cooler water temperatures.
  • Recreational swimming: While less common, some individuals may simply prefer wearing a wetsuit for recreational swimming in a pool, whether for personal comfort reasons or to protect against skin irritation from pool chemicals.
  • Indoor surfing: In some indoor surfing facilities, such as those with wave pools or artificial waves, the water temperature may be regulated to mimic ocean conditions, and wearing a wetsuit could enhance the experience by providing warmth and protection against abrasions. 

These activities highlight various scenarios where wearing a wetsuit in a pool may be practical or beneficial for participants. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as water temperature, pool regulations, and individual preferences when deciding whether to wear a wetsuit for pool activities.

Pros and Cons of Wearing a Wetsuit in a Pool

Exploring the benefits and drawbacks of wearing a wetsuit in a pool reveals a nuanced perspective on this debated topic. 

From enhanced buoyancy to potential overheating, the decision to don a wetsuit in a pool setting involves various considerations. Let’s dive into the pros and cons to better understand the implications of this choice.

What are the Benefits of Wearing a Wetsuit in a Pool?

In general, the use of wetsuits comes in handy in lots of different water sports. Whether it is surfing, scuba diving, wakeboarding or the simple fun of beginning to boogie board

Besides choosing the right surfboard size, choosing the right wetsuit fit is quite essential for a successful session. The right wetsuit size can provide:

  • Insulation: Wetsuits trap a thin layer of water between the suit and the skin, which the body then warms up. This layer acts as insulation, preventing the loss of body heat to the surrounding water. This insulation helps keep the wearer warm in cold water environments.
  • Buoyancy: The neoprene material of wetsuits provides buoyancy, which helps the wearer float more easily on the water’s surface. This buoyancy can reduce the effort needed to stay afloat and conserve energy during swimming or other water activities.
  • Protection: Wetsuits offer protection against abrasions, jellyfish stings, and other hazards encountered in the water. The durable neoprene material provides a barrier between the wearer’s skin and potential sources of injury, enhancing safety during activities like surfing, diving, or waterskiing.
  • UV protection: Many wetsuits offer protection against harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can cause sunburn and skin damage. The thick neoprene material blocks out UV radiation, providing an additional layer of sun protection for the wearer’s skin.

Translating those benefits into the pool, you can apply each one of the ones above: 

  • Insulation → During longer sessions inside the pool, in outdoor pools during colder seasons and for cold sensitive people, the perfect wetsuit thickness offers comfort in pools below their preferred water temperature.
  • Buoyancy → For exhausting training sessions in the swimming pool, the wetsuit will help you stay afloat easier.
  • Protection → While you have not to worry about jellyfish stings, the chlorine used to disinfect most pools can harm your skin badly. Wearing a wetsuit will keep the contact minimal.
  • UV protection → Obviously a point, that only applies for outdoor pools and yet, one of the most important ones. Our skin is not only our biggest organ, but also the coat to the precious muscles you need for whatever aquatic activity your heart beats for.

Why Should You NOT Wear a Wetsuit in a Swimming Pool?

Wearing a wetsuit in a pool can present several challenges and potential drawbacks. From damaging the material to possible conflicts – whether it is science or specific pool rules, wearing a wetsuit in swimming pool certainly has its downs.

  • Overheating: Wetsuits are designed to provide insulation in cold water, which means wearing one in a pool with warmer temperatures can lead to overheating and discomfort.
  • Restriction of movement: Wetsuits are typically thicker and more restrictive than traditional swimwear. In a pool setting, where precise movements are often required, the added bulk of a wetsuit can hinder agility and performance.
  • Chlorine damage: Pool water is treated with chlorine to maintain cleanliness, but this chemical can degrade the neoprene material of wetsuits over time. Prolonged exposure to chlorine may cause the wetsuit to lose its elasticity, leading to premature wear and tear.
  • Unnecessary insulation: In a pool with regulated water temperatures, the insulating properties of a wetsuit may not be necessary. Wearing a wetsuit in this context can result in unnecessary insulation, which may cause discomfort and hinder swimming performance.
  • Social norms: Wearing a wetsuit in a pool may go against social norms and etiquette, especially in recreational or public pool settings where wetsuits are not commonly worn. This can lead to critical side glances and because of that uncomfortable self-consciousness for the wearer.

Hacks for Anybody Who Wants to Wear a Wetsuit in a Pool

Six easy tricks that can help to cancel out the negative side effects of using a wetsuit in a swimming pool:

  1. Choose the right wetsuit: Select a wetsuit that fits snugly but allows for comfortable movement. Consider the thickness of the neoprene material based on the water temperature of the pool.
  1. Rinse with fresh water after each use: After swimming in the pool, rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with fresh water to remove chlorine and other chemicals that can degrade the material over time.
  1. Avoid sharp objects: Be mindful of sharp objects around the pool area that could tear or puncture your wetsuit. Take care when sitting or kneeling to avoid unnecessary damage.
  1. Dry thoroughly between uses: Hang your wetsuit to dry completely between uses to prevent mold and mildew growth. Avoid drying it in direct sunlight or near heat sources, as this can damage the neoprene.
  1. Stay hydrated: Wearing a wetsuit can increase your body temperature, so be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your pool session.
  1. Check the pool rules: Make sure, the pool owner is okay with people wearing a wetsuit inside the swimming pool to avoid possible conflicts.

Alternatives to Wearing a Wetsuit in a Swimming Pool

Alternatives to wearing a wetsuit in a swimming pool provide various options tailored to individual preferences, comfort levels, and specific activity requirements. While wetsuits offer insulation, buoyancy, and protection, alternative swimwear options cater to different needs without the added bulk or warmth of a wetsuit.

Swimwear designed for pool use

Traditional swimwear such as swimsuits, swim trunks, or swim briefs are ideal choices for pool environments. Constructed from lightweight and quick-drying materials, these garments offer freedom of movement and minimal resistance in the water, making them suitable for recreational swimming, training, or water aerobics.

Rash guards

Rash guards or swim shirts provide an excellent alternative to wetsuits for individuals seeking protection against abrasions, UV exposure, and skin irritation. Made from stretchy and breathable fabrics, rash guards offer a comfortable and lightweight option for extended pool sessions, particularly in sunny outdoor pools.

Neoprene shorts or leggings

For targeted warmth or buoyancy without the need for a full wetsuit, neoprene shorts or leggings offer a versatile alternative. These garments provide insulation for the lower body while allowing unrestricted movement, making them suitable for activities like aqua jogging, water fitness classes, or paddleboarding in the pool.

Thermal swimwear

Thermal swimwear options, such as neoprene tops or swimsuits with thermal linings, offer enhanced warmth for cooler water temperatures without the bulkiness of a wetsuit. These garments feature insulating properties to retain body heat, making them ideal for early morning or indoor pool sessions where the water may be slightly cooler than usual.

Flotation devices

Utilizing flotation devices like kickboards, pull buoys, or swim noodles provides buoyancy support without the need for a wetsuit. These tools assist with floating, balance, and propulsion during swim training sessions, allowing swimmers to focus on technique and endurance without additional insulation.

Dryland training

Incorporating dryland training exercises and activities into your routine offers an alternative to swimming-specific attire. Strength training, flexibility exercises, and cardio workouts performed on land provide opportunities to improve overall fitness and complement pool-based activities without the need for specialized swimwear.

What Happens to Neoprene When You Enter Chlorinated Water?

The deterioration of neoprene when exposed to chlorine is primarily due to chemical reactions between the chlorine and the polymers present in the neoprene material. 

Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber made from polymerizing chloroprene molecules. Chlorine, as a strong oxidizing agent, can react with the double bonds in the polymer chains of neoprene, leading to chain-scission and cross-linking reactions.

What is chain-scission? In the presence of chlorine, the double bonds in the polymer chains undergo addition reactions with chlorine atoms, causing the polymer chains to break apart. 

This process weakens the structure of the neoprene material, reducing its elasticity and flexibility

What is cross-linking? Additionally, chlorine can also react with the carbon-carbon double bonds in the polymer chains to form new chemical bonds. That is called cross-linking.

Cross-linking increases the stiffness of the neoprene and can cause it to become brittle over time.

Furthermore, chlorine can oxidize the functional groups present in neoprene, leading to discoloration and degradation of the material. The chlorine atoms can also penetrate into the neoprene matrix, causing internal damage and weakening of the material.

Overall, the chemical reactions between chlorine and the polymer chains of neoprene result in structural changes and degradation of the material, leading to a loss of

  • elasticity 
  • stiffness
  • and durability

Therefore, it’s crucial to minimize exposure of neoprene items to chlorine and rinse them thoroughly with fresh water after contact with chlorinated water to mitigate damage and preserve their quality. Learning how to wash a wetsuit properly is crucial to ensuring its longevity and continued enjoyment in the water.

Conclusion: Can You Wear Wetsuits in a Swimming Pool?

Wearing a wetsuit in a swimming pool is technically possible, but it may not always be practical or necessary for most recreational swimmers. The decision to wear a wetsuit in a pool depends on various factors, including personal preference, activity goals, water temperature, and pool regulations.

For individuals seeking added warmth, buoyancy, or protection during pool activities, alternatives such as thermal swimwear, rash guards, or neoprene shorts offer viable options without the bulkiness of a wetsuit. Ultimately, whether to wear a wetsuit in a swimming pool is a matter of individual choice and specific circumstances. But when choosing to wear a wetsuit, make sure to get the right wetsuit size to ensure it provides the support you need.

FAQ – Most asked questions about can You Wear a Wetsuit in a Pool?

Jörg Matzdorff
Jörg Matzdorff

Outdoor and surfing enthusiast.