July 28, 2018
Trying on wetsuit's in your local tri shop on a midsummer's day getting hot, sweaty and sticky. Not exactly appealing. Not to mention the cost, required care and effort that it takes to understand what exactly makes the difference between them all. So the question begs … are they really worth the effort?
Frankly, yes. I have been racing on the British Elite Triathlon circuit for 4 years now. Each year going through the same rigorous process of testing, trying and experimenting the latest wetsuits on the market and then coming back to the same conclusion. I am faster, stronger and more powerful in every swim with my wetsuit, no matter the distance or quality of the field.
So what exactly is the difference between them all? And is it worth spending the big bucks to get the biggest gains? To begin with, triathlon/swimming wetsuits differ drastically from surfing wetsuits in shoulder flexibility and range of motion. Where surfing wetsuits are designed to keep you warm, triathlon wetsuits are designed to provide performance in 3 key areas: buoyancy, flexibility and durability, ultimately allowing you the freedom of movement that you need to produce speed through the water.
Over the years the technologies used to design wetsuits have rapidly improved, thanks most of all to the increase in popularity and participation of triathlon. As the level of competition rises between brands, so does the value your money.
Aqua Sphere's Pursuit wetsuit – is where performance begins. Priced at £140, we haven't found a suit on the market that provides more competitive qualities than the pursuit, proven through its use as the Great Swim Series hire wetsuit of choice since their start-up.
However, many triathletes find themselves looking for a suit that's going to provide that extra edge, helping them to make the next step forward from the entry-level style of racing. For the past three seasons, Zone3's Aspire has helped me to bridge the gap from Junior sprint racing to Senior Olympic distance racing. Designed with a unique one-piece shoulder that removes any restriction from your shoulders, the Aspire has topped almost every wetsuit review and coming in at £269.99 provides a sweet spot between price and performance.
Finally, for those not only genuinely serious about race-day speed but the latest high-performance tech, it seems HUUB's Archimedes has provided dominance on the World's highest stage, having been used to win Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze in London 2012 and Rio 2016 summer games. At £439.99, the technologies used on the 3rd edition of the Archimedes provides a reduction in muscle fatigue through bicep release compression, Yamamoto materials that showcase unmatched buoyancy through strategically placed panels and a hydrodynamic SCS coating that boosts your efficiency through the water.
So through the hot, sticky try-on's, late-night washouts and all the latest tech to keep up with, wetsuits are worth the effort. Whether it's for casually joining in with your club's open water swim on a Monday night throughout the summer, or for shaving off the minutes in your next competitive triathlon they allow us the freedom to explore, not only our limits but the limits of the water.
Cover Photograph Credit – Paul Manser.
In Blog Photograph Credit – Sam Winter
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