Yes, you could always make up the time on the bike and run but swimming open water can always be a challenge in itself so it's always best to be as prepared as possible. You don't have to be a strong swimmer but you should try to train regular for the race, be comfortable and confident about swimming the distance and also have some open water experience before starting. Sometime failing to prepare can be preparing to fail!
Great to hear that you have entered Windsor - I've done the race myself many times.
For your wetsuit you should definitely get a triathlon or swimming specfic wetsuit. This will ensure that you a performance fit and give you lots of flexibility around the shoulders whilst also giving you buoyancy to help your endurance. It will really help to improve your swim speed. There are a number of brands available and price generally go from £100 up to £1000. If you can spend over the £200 you will get a much better suit for your money and have a more comfortable swim.
Some swimmers will but a lubricate such as bodyglide on the back of their neck incase the wetsuit rubs but again they should be build for comfort so this is not always needed.
As I said to Julia, the Zone3 suits could be a good option because you will be able to get them on and off easily which can always be a problem for novices.
Here is also a link to some of our reviews so you will know what to look for:
Exactly, the most common problem for all swimmers is body position in the water. It is so much hard if you have to drag your hips or legs lower in the water and will make you much slower. As I mention to Kate, I'd try and do a lot more work with and without a kickboard. Work on your front and both sides. Hold the board at the very top and also with just your finger tips at the bottom. Work on using your abs and kick to keep yourself alinged in the water.
The Zone3 buoyancy shorts have proved to help many swimmers with this problem:
When it comes to sighting in open water it does take some practice. Sighting can often slow someones swim down a lot if it is not smooth so practice trying to perfect your technique so it becomes part of your stoke. Before you breath to the side, gentle raise your head upwards, take a look at the direction and then swivel your head from that position to the side and take your breath.
Also, if you are finding it hard to see the buoys before you start look at what is in the skyline behind the buoys - maybe there is a tall tree or landmark you can head for instead which is more clear.
Open water racing and training can be very different to pool training. I really had to change my approach when switching from pool to open water. Try doing more sub-threshold swim sets but for around 20-40 mins. Keep it as aerobic as possible so you're going as fast as you can but without going over the red line! Combine this with some shorter distance speed sets nearer the time of the race to get peak fitness. Also, train in the open water and aim to get a more relaxed and fluid technique - be less worried about perfect form which would be needed in the pool.
For your wetsuit, yes most suits can be cut down on the arm and the legs to allow them to come off quicker but I would only recommend cutting the legs and use v sharp sissors. The Zone3 wetsuits are design with a silicone coating on the arm and the legs to try and help this common problem. Example below: