Archive for Wetsuit

Wetsuit Test Results

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2009 by brianestover

The reason behind this testing is simple.  Find the fastest wetsuit for me for the next few seasons.  I contacted wetsuit manufactures and Trisports.com to get all the suits lined up to swim.  Thanks you to Aquaman, Desoto, Nineteen, and Xterra, for sending me suits to test.  Thank you to Trisports.com for supplying me with the following suits: BlueSeventy, Zoot, QR and Synergy .

To insure as unbiased results as possible and make the test as fair as possible,  I did two rounds of testing for each suit. Each days testing consisted of 2×400 on the 6:00.  Then I changed suits, swam 200 to make sure the suit was on properly and swam another set of 2×400 on 6:00.  Two suits got tested per day.  I did not know which suits in round one were being tested until that morning.  During the second round I swam the suits in the reverse order of the first round to hopefully eliminate fitness gains.

The first suit to be tested was the suit I was born with.  It’s a marvelous suit (thanks Mom & Dad) and has served me well through the years. No neoprene, no zippers, no easy exit leg openings and a few scars from normal wear and tear.  We all know wetsuits are faster, but the goal here was to peg how much faster a wetsuit was against my OEM suit.

How did they swim?  I’m going to present all four times for the suits then an average time.  You can compare how the suits did for me against my OEM suit.  I’ll also list what I liked or did not like about the suit, but please remember this is specific to me. This info about the suits will vary depending upon the individual.

No wetsuit.  5:07, 5:10, 4:56, 4:57.  Average time: 5:02.5.  No complaints, no leaking, no chafing a fine suit, for non-wetsuit swims if I say so myself. 

Wetsuit number 1 was the Synergy Hybrid. 4:31, 4:31, 4:28, 4:27. Average time: 4:29.5.  It’s a new to the market suit. When I first picked up this suit I thought Orca.  But then you see the rubber on the back of this suit and you realize the Synergy is one of a kind.  I’ve never seen wetsuit rubber stretch so much.  I really liked this suit, although being somewhat slim of build; I found it too stretchy across my upper back, or too much of the stretchy rubber. I could have used a little less material in the suit, but if you have wide shoulders or a muscular back this may be an option for you.  With the exception of a seam on my right elbow this was a comfortable suit. Here is a link to the video showing how much stretch the rubber has.

The next suit tested was the DeSoto First Wave. 4:35, 4:40, 4:30, 4:30.  Average time 4:33.75.  Desoto makes a one, or should I say a two of a kind suit.  It’s a two piece suit.  You can mix and match the top and bottom to get a top notch fit.  I originally swam in a size 4 top, which felt great except at the wrists where it was too big, or my wrists are too small. Every stroke you could feel water entering the suit at this critical area. When I tried the size 3 top, it was just a touch too tight through the shoulders, but no water entered through the wrists and I think the times I swam reflect that. This is a great concept in a suit.  It eliminates a weak area in many suits, the zipper, which leaks water into the suit.  Because it’s a pull over top, there is no water leaking inside the suit through the zipper. The collar is very comfortable and doesn’t leak at all. In fact this suit was one of the driest suits in the entire testing.  I just couldn’t get the top to fit right unfortunately.  The bottoms felt great, tight, comfortable and not constricting. This suit was the easiest to put on and by far the fastest suit to take off.

Next up was the Xterra Vector Pro X2.  4:29, 4:31, 4:25, 4:27.  Average time: 4:28. When I choose to get back into triathlon in 2005 after taking eight years away I ended up with an Xterra top of the line suit.  I was not impressed, tight shoulders, chafing around my entire neck and my arms felt like someone tied weights to them.  The new Xterra’s are way better then the suits of old. This suit felt like I was shot out of a cannon.  It made me want to swim fast right from the get go. Four of my six fastest first 100’s came while wearing this suit.  This might be something to consider if you are an off the front swimmer who tends to get a line of people on your feet early in the swim.  They did a lot right with this suit. This was the second driest suit upon exiting the pool.  If I had one complaint about this suit though it would be the collar closure, I could never get it to close so it didn’t scratch my neck.  It scratched me when I breathed only to the right, never chafed, just a tiny little reminder that I couldn’t get the neck just right.  For me this isn’t a big problem I can breathe either side. All in all though this suit felt fast.

The next suit was the Zoot Zenith suit. 4:32 4:34, 4:32, 4:32.  Average time: 4:32.5.  I put this suit on and wanted to walk around and kick people’s ass. The panels on this suit made me feel like Batman and everyone else was a bad guy.  This suit is a 2mm base suit with 3mm panels sewn into the suit to provide a suit that should float like a 5mm paneled suit.  The panels ended up channeling water through the suit so you rolled and felt the water roll right along with you. This suit had the most comfortable neck collar of any suit tested.  It was also the lowest collar.  Lower and more comfy doesn’t always equal faster.  Most of the water entering this suit during the testing came from the collar area.  For me it was just too low. The wrists and ankles sealed rather well and the suit is very comfortable. The suit came off rather quickly thanks to its 2mm body and paneling.

The Nineteen Frequency was next. 4:30, 4:32, 4:28, 4:29.  Average time 4:29.75.  This suit reminded me most of my recently deceased wetsuit.  This is a well thought out suit, great paneling. Lots of 5mm rubber where the suit meets the water and lots of thinner rubber where you need the flexibility.  Well designed legs for easy exit and this suit went on well.  In some respects I think this is one of the best designed suits that I tested. To be fair to this suit, I died on the 4:32 repeat, through the 300 I was on 4:28-:29 pace.  This was the 4th 400 of the day and I just couldn’t hold it together over the final 75.

Next up was the QR SuperFull.  4:34. This suit got pulled from testing because it was just way too big.  It’s a very, very flexible suit.  My other suits are QR’s and I just went with the same size.  This is a one size down suit from previous models.  I knew this suit was too big when I could pull the collar up to my ears. Nice suit, very flexible, and I think this could be a fast suit given that it felt like I was swimming inside a water balloon.

Aquaman Gold Cell was next.  4:29, 4:29, 4:27, 4:27.  4:28 average time. This suit has a very tall neck. Hardly any water comes through the neck.  At first I thought this might be a chafing or restricting neck, but I was wrong.  This is probably the most comfortable neck in the lineup.  The inside of this suit is smooth skin neoprene lined.  You smell just like a wetsuit upon exiting the suit, the tradeoff is that it’s extremely easy to put on, even when wet.  If you are doing TTT, this could be the suit for you.  It’s a fast, comfortable suit. I now know why so many Europeans use Aquaman and the fault that more Americans don’t.  They do little advertising; the suit isn’t in any tri retailer I’ve been in over the last three years. Trying to find an Aquaman wetsuit to touch is like trying to find a snowball in my back yard here in Arizona in July. I received this suit from France with a note from the owner assuring me I’d like this suit. He was 100% correct.  He said Aquaman is so good they don’t have to advertise.  I think if they want to penetrate the US market they better find a way to get this suit into more consumers’ hands. Many suits I’d consider inferior are drowning out this suit at the start line.

The final suit is the Blue Seventy Helix.4:25, 4:27, 4:24, 4:28. Average time 4:26.  This suit stands in stark contrast to the Xterra.  That suit feels like you’ve been shot from cannon.  This suit swims fast but feels slow. I kept checking the clock every 50 and thinking no way is this suit this fast.  If you are a touchy feely person this isn’t your suit.  If you like objective data then this might be your suit. This was probably the most uncomfortable suit to wear around the deck before swimming.  The Torsional Stretch Technology, the blue bands, dug into my back and the armholes dug into me as well.  Once swimming though, this suit was very comfortable.  One complaint was this suit was one of the slowest off in transition suits. I think it’s partly the design, lots of taping over the seams, tight fitting and small leg and arm holes.  Of course these are some of the things that make this suit, and others, fast. Does fastest in the water but slower in transition equal a faster suit?  It depends.  If you are an off the front swimmer then probably it does.  If you are in the middle of the pack from the gun until exiting out of the water, then I’m not so sure.

I was able to talk with several of the suit manufacturers.  There were several things that most agreed upon: 

The SCS coating for many swimmers isn’t going to make a difference.  Getting a clean start will probably do more for you then having the top of the line coating on the suit.

Fit, fit, fit. You need to try on several suits, they all fit different, they all feel different and they all swim different. Get the right fitting suit.

Putting it on correctly is another big area of concern.  It should be snug into your crotch, pull all the excess material up from your legs, up towards your shoulders. It may take several pulls to get the suit on properly. Make sure the arms are aligned properly.

Long sleeves are faster then no sleeves.  The Euro’s know this, the elites know this but many American age groupers are slow adopters. This is probably due to some bad fit issues with long sleeve suits in the past.  Make sure the suit fits.

Most of the rubber used in these suits comes from the same factory. 

Water grabbing panels on the arms may not do anything for you, they may actually be slower. But it’s a price of entry on top line suits now.

Being in the scrum of swimmers is going to negate much of the differences between suits.

No wetsuit is going to make up for a lack of swim training.  If you swim 35 minutes in a half ironman, a wetsuit isn’t going to make you a sub 30 swimmer.

Round 1 – Finally Done!

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , on December 27, 2008 by brianestover

Swam in the last suit today for round 1.  Round 2 begins tomorrow.  Really fast suit, really fast times.  I should have swam faster or managed my time better today since I’m out of time to write right now.

I’m going list the suits alphabetically and the times from the fastest swam to the slowest swam.

 

Suits swam:

Aquaman

Blue 70

Desoto

Nineteen

QR

Synergy

Xterra

Zoot

The times:

4:25   4:27   4:29   4:29   4:30   4:30   4:31   4:31   4:32   4:32   4:32   4:34   4:32   4:35   4:40   

 

That’s 8 suits tested but one of the above suits was removed due to it being way to big.  I included the suit and it’s time in the list.

One suit didn’t arrive at Trisports.com in time to get tested, hopefully I’ll test that suit early in 2009 and retest the ill-fitting suit again.

Round two begins tomorrow.

Day 4 – Wet and not just in the pool

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , on December 26, 2008 by brianestover

A cold, rainy, grey and windy day here in Tucson today.  Too bad all those other suckers at the pool didn’t have wetsuits.  They looked real cold running from the locker room to the starting block area, in the rain. Too bad the lifeguards didn’t make them sit under the lifeguard stand for 5 minutes for running on the pool deck. I see standards have fallen since I’ve last life guarded.

So how did day 4 go?  It was bad and good.  Bad because even though the sizing charts on one suit said one size, that size is way to big on me. On this suit, sizing down should be recommended, and I’ll tell you which one it is after all is said and done.  It was so big on me that I removed it from testing.  It’s just not fair when every suit has been pretty spot on for fit to have something that is way to big in the testing.  Based on the only 400 I swam in it, that this suit could be really fast if it fit correctly.  It split out 4:34 but filled with water on every turn, you could feel the ocean of water in this suit rolling from side to side just a fraction behind you.  Not to mention the extra 1.5inches of rubber I could grab at the shoulders.  I’m going to see what I can do about getting the proper size then re-testing this suit.  Like I said it has all the makings of a good wetsuit with thick rubber where it’s needed and flexible rubber where it’s needed.  Coming off the turns I popped to the surface like a cork and was able to get right into swimming. 

After removing the previous suit, I got to swim in one of the suits that really intrigued me. It went on easy but needed some fine tuning to get it to fit correctly.  What really matters is how did I swim in the suit.  Fast. Real fast actually for a more precise answer.  If we were ranking the suits on one round only, this suit would move into the leader board position.  It has a mere :01 lead on the next fastest suit.  This suit swam different then the other fast suit. The previous fastest suit felt fast, like you were motoring through the water and the splits on the clock showed that.  it almost encouraged you to take it out fast and go for the swim of your life right off the bat.  This suit felt good, but not fast. It felt like you were swimming well but not swimming like you were shot out of a cannon.  I couldn’t see the clock going into the turns because my right goggle filled with water.  So I was swimming blind on how fast I was going.  But when I finished and looked at the clock, it had tied for the fastest 400 I’ve swam in the testing.  That includes having one crappy turn where my push-off was next to nothing. The second swim was only :01 slower. So it’s neck and neck between these two suits.  

Round two, as a reminder is the same as round one, 2×400 on the 6:00.  The only difference is the suits get reversed for round two.  If it was swam as the first suit of the day in round 1 it goes last for that day in round 2.  Only one suit so far on tap for tomorrow and we’ll see how that goes, unless the delivery guy reaches into his truck and drops off a box for me this evening.  Then it’s onto round two!

Day 2 – DONE!

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , on December 20, 2008 by brianestover

WOW!  That’s all I can say about one of the suits I tested today. Holy crap this thing was fast. You know how people drive on Sunday, nice and slow, in the right lane where slow people should drive, well this suit felt just like that.  It just didn’t feel fast. At the hundred I checked the clock and thought maybe it’s time to get some prescription goggles.  At the 200 I thought maybe the second hand on the clock was sticking again like it did a few months ago (when I swam :35 for 100yds thanks to the sticking second hand).  I was doing math after the 300, figuring out my average pace for 100 and realized about 350 in (yeah my math skills aren’t super awesome) that this suit was crushing it.    I swam my fastest 400 by several seconds in it.  The second 400 in it tied for the next fastest time with another suit.  I completely died on that last 400. That last 400, I was flying.  In at the 200yd mark well ahead of any of the other 400s that I’ve swam in this test so far.   Didn’t even feel like I was swimming that hard. About 275 the wheels started to come off and by 350 the lifeguard was tossing the rescue buoy in after me.  Even imploding and swimming a huge positive split, the suit swam tied for the second fastest 400 of the test.  It just didn’t feel fast but I keep looking at the clock and thinking no f*cking way am I swimming this fast.  I’m interested to see what this suit can do in the second round when I swim it first for the day.

But it’s still early in the test, I have 5 or 6 suits to still test.   So we’ll see how round one shakes out. Then round two will begin. 

That last 400 is really tough when you’ve done 3×400 and have been swimming them like you are doing 1×400.   The scary thing is some ex-college swimmer was holding 1:10-:11/100 in the lane next to me.  Even with a wetsuit I was barely out swimming him.  Damn you ex-college swimmers.  Why do you have to be so fast in the water?  Why?

On a side note, I’ve realized at this point in December, I’ve logged more yards in the pool then all of last Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb combined.  Actually, this week I’ve logged more yards then all those months combined.  This should bode well for me, maybe not so well for the rest of my age group, in the early season tri’s like Oceanside 70.3.