Category Archives: Swimming

Beginners Guide to Triathlon Wetsuits

This post was generously contributed by guest blogger Michael Finnigan 

When I first considered doing a triathlon I was particularly concerned about how expensive the kit was. I was worried that I’d compete in one event, lose interest, and then have wasted a lot of money. So I held off for years. Much later I still found myself daydreaming about the sport and I decided to take the risk. After all, the bike and running gear I would use – the wetsuit was a gamble.

Now, I’m sure many of you tough-guys out there were in the same predicament as me and didn’t want to part with your hard earned cash. There was even a time where I seriously considered taking to the northern waters my swimming trunks – it was only 200m after all – but an experienced friend made me see sense and gave me some much need information regarding triathlon clothing, which I’d like to share with you.

So let’s start with the basics. Triathlon wetsuits provide athletes with a number of benefits: Buoyancy, warmth and improved performance in the water, thanks to their streamlined material. They also have a thick layer of neoprene that keeps out the cold and will let you stay in the water for much longer than without. They also give you a sense of security as the added buoyancy removes the fear that you’re going to sink and trust me, after almost a mile or so in the freezing water there are times when you think you might.

Triathlon wetsuits come in three categories: Beginner, Intermediate and Expert. Beginner suits are made with budget in mind. They need to get you through training and events and if you don’t spend a lot of time in the water you are unlikely to realise what you’re missing with more expensive suits.

Intermediate suits are for people who train regularly and plan to compete in wetsuit legal races. They’re made from buoyant rubber and are more flexible and comfortable than beginner suits. The better quality material also improves speed in the water.

Expert suits, on the other hand, are the best of the best. They offer an enormous range of movement and warmth. They’re lightweight and comfortable and are incredibly buoyant. Their unique shape will help you get the most out of your stroke, making you travel faster with less effort.

There are lots of brands to choose from, but the main things to consider when you’re buying a wetsuit are:

  • How cold is the water?

If you’re up north then consider a thicker suit.

  • Are you a slow swimmer?

If so, consider buying a more buoyant suit.

  • Are you quick of the blocks?

Then buy a more flexible suit to get yourself ahead of the pack.

Ultimately there are a lot of things to consider and getting the right one for you will determine how well you do in a race. Renting a suit before you buy is also a good way of working out what type of suit is best for you and if you get one from the internet make sure that you have the option to return it if it doesn’t fit. In my opinion flexibility and buoyancy is king, as you are probably going to be warm enough in almost any suit.

 

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RMT Review – Wetsuits Uncovered

Wetsuits are an essential piece of kit for a Triathlete but often get overlooked by the bike and running shoes! There is a huge variety of options out there with prices ranging from as little as £80 right the way up to the elite models specialising in speed technology exceeding £500!

The RMT team got hold of four wetsuits which cover the whole spectrum of wetsuit prices and tried and tested them in the freezing waters of the UK (and an indoor pool as well!) We judged each wetsuit on its speed, comfort, the quality of the material and durability in the water. As always, each wetsuit will be awarded an “RMT Ranking” which will hopefully help you spot the right wetsuit for you!

2XU v:2 Velocity – RRP £499.00

Available at Wiggle

If you are looking for pure performance and the best wetsuit money can buy, look no further than this offering from 2XU. 2XU have stormed into the wetsuit market as a leading brand and its clear to see why. This wetsuit is great looking with smart lines and that iconic logo from 2XU.

The Velocity has Titanium Alpha Coating for enhanced blood flow in the lower limbs which is one of several advancements from the 2010 model.  Everything is geared towards elite performance including Propulsion Panels on the lower legs and Velocity Strakes for improved hydrodynamics and increased forward motion.

With great comfort as standard, if you are willing to push the budget for that perfect bit of kit, this is the one for you.

  • Value for Money – 8
  • Functionality – 10
  • Comfort – 10
  • Performance – 10
  • RMT Ranking – 10

 

 Blue Seventy Axium– RRP £149

Available at Wiggle

Only available at Wiggle, this a great value for money wetsuit that shows that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to get a good product. One of the key things the RMT team were looking for when testing was  that even during long swims that it didn’t rub! Although we couldn’t test this fully in open water due to the cold, we found it performed well in the pool.

It also has a great feature called a quick release ankle system which really cuts those seconds off in T1. We all have had problems getting wetsuits off during the transistions so anything that helps is great news! There is always comments about the neck line of a wetsuit and the Blue Seventy seems to address this by having a low lying one which removes any feeling of restriction. This wetsuit is great and specifically designed for our triathlete’s big thighs so we recommend this as a good for value buy!

  • Value for Money – 9
  • Functionality – 8
  • Comfort – 8
  • Performance – 8
  • RMT Ranking – 8

 

 Speed Tri Comp – RRP £200.00

Available at Wiggle

The Speedo Tri Comp wetsuit is a mid range model which provides the best balance between elite performance and value for money. This wetsuit is suitable for an intermediate level competitor who wants to upgrade to a suit with increased speed and performance but does not want to compensate this with speed.

The coating of the suit is the renowned Yamamoto coating which Speedo has purposefully positioned underneath the chest in order to reduce water friction! The RMT team found the suit both comfortable and supremely buoyant!

The Speedo Tri Comp lacks the additional high performance features of the 2XU Velocity model but what it lacks in performance it more than makes up for in comfort. The RMT team found the Speedo Tri Comp the most comfortable of the four wetsuits tested with the exception of the 2XU model.

Overall, the RMT team found the Speedo Tri Comp wetsuit comfortable and of high quality. This wetsuit is perfect for an entry level triathlete who wants to upgrade to a high performance, tried and tested wetsuit!

  • Value for Money – 7
  • Functionality – 7
  • Comfort – 8
  • Performance – 7
  • RMT Ranking – 7

 

Orca Sonar – RRP £284.99

Available at Chain Reaction

One of the world’s most popular wetsuits just got better! The new Sonar model wetsuit from Orca has been a favourite for serious triathletes for a number of years and this season’s model does not disappoint!

For people serious about open water swimming who are looking for a step up from an entry level wetsuit, the new generation Sonar offers more technology than ever before. The suit has been redesigned to include panels of Aerodome Neoprene that have been proven to provide up to an additional 30% more buoyancy!

The RMT team noticed that the seamless body of the suit is extremely comfortable and felt like it was perfectly moulded to the body. We found the suit incredibly fast and there is a clear difference in the level of buoyancy provided by the Sonar compared to an entry level equivalent.

The new Sonar model also benefits from a brand new low profile neck seal designed to sit flat against the neck which we found significantly reduced the amount of water entering the suit!

Overall, the new Sonar is another fantastically impressive wetsuit from Orca. The suit is incredibly fast and does not compensate its speed with comfort. The wetsuit is not cheap but you can be certain that you are getting hold of a top quality suit which you can be sure will deliver on performance.

  • Value for Money – 8
  • Functionality – 9
  • Comfort – 8
  • Performance – 9
  • RMT Rank – 9

 

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