Archive for wetsuits

Races like this are AWESOME!

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2009 by brianestover

The Sahurita Triathlon was yesterday.  Great little race, swim 500m out, make a U turn swim 500m back, 2 loop 16.8mile bike and a 5k run. Sarah had some race wheel issues that morning and we needed to drive to another house to grab some other race wheels for her.  That put me even later then I usually am to the race venue.  No worries though. Racked the bike, got numbered, grabbed the wetsuit and went to the bathroom.  Got on the wetsuit about 5 min before the first wave went off.  This is probably the only time I’ve been glad to be in wave 2.  I was able to get in, swim a bit, then readjust the wetsuit.  Lined up to the left, next to the start buoy.  The crowds seemed to be to the right which was perplexing since the first buoy was right in front of me.  There was no need to angle into it, and the lip of the cove we were in would pinch people who lined up right.  Oh well, part of racing is using your brains, and this was my shining moment of the day!  Later in the race I pull a Homer Simpson moment, DOH. Gun goes off, it’s a drag race to the buoy.  There are two people to my left, several to my right.  I’m breathing every 3 checking it all out.  Slowly three of us emerge leading the charge.  Brandon, on my right and Seton owner of on my left.  Just like last weekend, I couldn’t hold Brandon’s feet and he slowly drifted away as we raced towards the U turn.  Seton and I were swimming stroke for stroke towards the turn.  I apologize to those from wave 1 who I swam over, Mr. Breaststroker was the first victim, about 200m into the swim.  I never saw you when I looked up two strokes prior.  Sorry for using your face to catch the water, it’s provides a much better pulling surface then water does though, it’s weird to feel someone’s nose between your fingers and their goggles in the palm of your hand.  Swam over a few more people before we hit the 500m mark. There was a guy in front of us who made a 270 degree turn instead of the required 180 and headed back into Seton as we rounded the buoy.  This caused Seton to head into me as he sounded the collision alarm. After the turn, I figured since he isn’t swimming faster then me and I’m not swimming faster then him, I’m sitting on his feet. Near the end of the swim I sensed Seton slowing a bit, looked up and saw Brandon just ahead.  Pulled to  the side of Seton and headed for Brandon’s feet.  I typically outride Brandon and he typically outruns me. I can think of 6 or 7 races where we finished next to each other in the standings, about 50/50 him in front of me.  In my mind, coming out of the water on his feet was better then coming out of the water :05 down.  The three of us exited as one and charged towards transition.  There was about a 100yd run to the lake.  You could hear zippers being pulled down and lots of heavy breathing as the three of us were bolting along the path.  Saw Billy, one of the guys I coach who was in the first wave right ahead of us leaving on his bike. The three of us grabbed our bikes and headed out.  I exited right behind Brandon, ahead of Seton and about :10 up on Thomas.

100m into the bike I hear a disc wheel, Thomas comes flying by me then Brandon, then Brandon re-passes, and now I’m back about :10 total with Billy just ahead of the train.  Thomas repasses, then I pass brandon, then Billy about .75mile later.  Then Thomas comes charging by, then I charge past him then brandon, then Thomas, then me, then Billy, then me, then thomas then brandon, the lead was changing so fast and so many times that it was hard to keep track of who was where.  It was a constant go as hard as you can go, get to the front and try to ride everyone off your wheel bike race.  This is how racing was meant to be, your eyes are bulging, your ribs hurt from breathing so hard, sweat dripping from under your helmet, disc wheels are making the sweet, lovely sound only a disc can make and you’re thinking when in hell is this guy going to drop and not come back to the front.  There had to have been 10-12 lead changes in the first 8 miles. Near the end of lap one I was thinking there is no way I can keep this up, forget about running after this.  

As we started lap 2, I took the lead going around the right hand turn and pushed hard.  This was a close to 2 mile section and I never dropped below 30.5mph.  I figured if anyone was coming back around me it was going to cost then (and me). Near the end of this section, Thomas comes past me,  I drop in legally behind him, see a small rise in the road and go back around him.  Make the right hand turn, look under my legs and can’t see anyone.  Make the next right hand turn just under a mile later and the sound of a disc wheel comes roaring towards me. Thinking it was Thomas I ask if  we gapped Brandon? Brandon just smiled. Ummm, I’ll take that as a NO.  I drop in behind him, amazed at how fast we are coming up on lapped riders.  After the next right hand turn we are both as far left as we can get, being squeezed by lapped traffic, squirt past them on the outside of the right hand turn, and begin the drag race at 27-28mph towards transition. I pass him, make the downhill right and a quick left into transition, as I’m getting out of my shoes, he rolls beside me and we get off our bikes side by side.  Thomas is ~ :10 behind us. And now I turn off my brain.  Instead of running straight to my rack which was 20 feet past the dismount line, I turn right, run all the way down the row of empty bikes, past where Brandon is racked, make a U -turn then run all the way back to my rack.  My friend Joe who was in charge of transition, told me it cost me almost :20 to make that run.  Put on a shoe, hear someone yell “go Thomas” as he exits transition, put on the other shoe, see brandon leaving, I grab my number and visor then run back down the empty rows to get out of transition. Thomas is ~:20 ahead of me, Brandon ~:15. That’s as close as it got.  I averaged 5:57 per mile for the 5k, those guys (thomas is an ex-sub 30min 10k runner so no hope there anyway) pulled ahead a bit more when it was all said and done.  We passed everyone in the first wave  except for 3 people, one of whom I caught on the run.  After the waves were complied I missed 4th place overall by :14 seconds. The mistake I made in transition cost me one spot on the overall result sheet.  

For those of you interested in the power numbers,   AP 244, NP 247, avg speed 25.9mph.

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 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 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.

Swimming Sucks

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by brianestover

Well it probably would suck less if I swam more.  February was an enormous swim month for me, 6800 yards, all in the first 4 days of the month.  This month I’ve got 4300 in.   3300 over the last two nights.  Who knew holding 1:20’s could hurt so bad? My huge main set (lots of sarcasm) was 3x3x100 descend 1-3, descend the intervals. (although I do want to point out I did swim 6 of these under 1:20).  Started at 1:35 finished on the 1:25.  That last round you really only have to make the second interval.  The first takes care of itself, cruised it hit the wall and go. The second, once you hit that who really cares about the third?  It’s over. Get to the wall, cool down then get out. 

Someone, anyone remind me to stop taking months out of the water at a time.  Seriously, it sucks trying to get back into swim shape. Good thing while at TriFest someone mentioned there were only 22 days until the Tucson Triathlon or I would have waited another week.  But what that conversation really meant was holy crap, Oceanside 70.3 is 6 days after that and I don’t think I could crack 28:00 for the swim right now with a wet suit.  Probably need to be in the low 26 min range out of the water to be near the front of my AG.  It might also help if I sorted out my TT bike situation as well, but lets face it, I’ll worry about that next week.

Day 3 – Done!

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , on December 24, 2008 by brianestover

It seems that the City of Tucson is undergoing some budget problems.  They have closed all but 3 of the year round pools.  And to further save money, the pools are closed today and Christmas day.  Next week they are closed the 31st and 1st.  So this testing is taking a bit longer to accomplish then I originally thought or planned. 

But some thoughts on day 3.  The wetsuits I swam in yesterday were completely different.  One was all fancy (even the lifeguards noticed that it was the fanciest of the suits I’ve swam in) the other was plain, maybe the plainest wetsuit in the testing lineup.  No fancy anything.  But it was well constructed, thick rubber where it was needed, thin rubber where it wasn’t.  No fancy this or that.  In fact putting it on, it reminded me of my old, poor, self destructed wetsuit. So I had high hopes for it when I swam it.  It swam well, in fact both suits swam fairly well, but fancy was :02 slower for each 400 then the plain Jane suit.  There is still round two to go for both suits, so the jury is still out.

I think manufactures feel they need to have all the gizmo’s on their suits to compete for the high end dollar.  Fancy doesn’t always = fast. This thought,  that I need to compete with the Jones’s, is a sad statement for both the consumer and manufacter, when fancy stuff is more important the fast stuff.  When manufacters feel they have to load their products with gizmos that don’t help you go faster and may actually make you slower just to compete for your dollar, especially at the top end of the retail cost structure. It’s a sad statement by the consumer when they blindly buy what they think is the fastest product,  even though it may be slower then something less costly.  More is more unless it’s less. Which in the case of many of the products we consume as triathletes, more is less and less is more.

I want the fastest wetsuit for me for when I race, not the coolest wetsuit.

Merry Christmas everyone.