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What is Yamamoto Neoprene?

38, 39, 40. These numbers do not reference European shoe sizes nor do they allude to a series of symphonies, instead these are the proletariat model numbers that correspond with Japanese rubber manufacturer Yamamoto’s lines of neoprene rubber. The fact of the matter is you may be able to find a tri-wetsuit that’s not made from Yamamoto neoprene, but it wouldn’t be easy. These ubiquitously used materials are pervasive within the majority of triathlon wetsuits found in today’s market and if you’re a triathlete you’ve more than likely heard the name and numbers thrown about alongside that sleek new wetsuit you’ve been eyeing.

You may wonder what the numbers mean and what significance, if any, they carry that makes these levels of neoprene best suited for triathlon wetsuits?

Yamamoto began producing wetsuit material in 1961 and have grown with the sport of triathlon ever since Dan Empfield’s pioneering work marrying the garment with the sport. Yamamoto’s rubber was chosen after the discovery of the unique properties that the rubber holds making it a perfect fit for triathlon specific garments. Yamamoto neoprene is a limestone sourced rubber and whose amazing properties include:

  • Nitrogen gas blown rubber that augments the insulation of the wetsuit, making it warmer
  • A 23% higher closed-cell structure than oil derived neoprene, making it more buoyant
  • Maximum elongation of over 480%, whereas human skin stretches only up to 60 to 70%
  • 95% water impermeable whereas oil derived standard is nearly 70%
With each model already possessing these impressive qualities, the underlying difference between each series is found within the increased flexibility and buoyancy gained by each subsequent model. It is understood that 39 is more flexible than 38 and 40 more-so than both, however where 39 represents an increase in durability over 38, 40 is considered to be more fragile than 39 and is thus used strategically throughout the suit to provide critical flexibility where needed without sacrificing the wetsuit’s durability.

Open Water Swimming in Triathlon

The shortest leg of the race in triathlon is often funny enough, the most feared. By far, you’re certainly the least out-of-control of your surrounding environment in this leg, which can allow for the capability to put a nice damper on your time. Most triathlons take place in some kind of a body of open water, so assuming your pool skills will transfer right over isn’t the case, and often times, can be dangerous. There’s many tips that can be followed to keep yourself safe, and drop seconds to minutes on your swim. We spend tons of money on gadgets, wheels, aero-dynamic and light-weight everything to save seconds and minutes, so why not take the time to practice open-water techniques for the swim? Below are some triathlon swim tips.

Pool Swimming

Pool heaters, a line to follow, lanes to keep our flailing bodies in, and visibility as far down as the eye can see. What’s not to like about training in a pool? Well, it’s not a realistic representation of the race environment. Certainly, it’s great for things such as speed-work and interval training, but it needs to be used in conjunction with your open water training. We’re not required to lift our head up in a pool to see where we’re going, or to modify our breathing according to surprise waves smacking us over the head, and if we get tired, oh boy! …a nice wall or lane line to grab onto won’t be there. Certain aspects of oceans and lakes call for specific gear, technique, and safety measures. Train to increase your conditioning, practice being in the environment to get you mentally prepared for the elements.

Necessary Equipment

So you’ve been training in the pool and want to venture into a lake, river, or ocean swim. Where do you begin? Most people do fine with some swim goggles, some find that a wider-lens goggle allows them to spot better in the open water. Here’s an example:

Wetsuit? Or no triathlon wetsuit? You’ll find at your triathlon races, about 95% (depending on temperature) of triathletes will be in wetsuits. Your first idea about this is probably that they’re wearing them to keep warm. Swim purists are strictly against this notion of wearing neoprene to swim. I myself was one as well, until I saw friends who I was lapping in the pool beating me in the open water. Not gonna fly. Tri wetsuits will give you quite the advantage. Sure they’ll keep you warmer than not having one, but they’re designed to make you more buoyant and reduce your drag. This allows you to conserve power, thus saving you energy and making for a faster time. My advice: get one.

Chaffing. It’s painful and unnecessary, but has a strong likelihood of happening with your tri wetsuit if some kind of a lubricant is not used. The chaffing will most likely happen around the neck, but there’s a few areas we strongly recommend as well to put the lube. Below are the two options, BodyGlide and TRISlide.

TRISLIDE

Body Glide

Both will protect against chaffing, and also aid in getting the wetsuit off quickly. We suggest putting it around your ankles, wrists, and neck prior to putting on the wetsuit before training and races.

Now that you have the necessary gear, there’s a few things you should consider prior to your open water swim training. It’s best to be checking the swells and currents prior to when you’ll be swimming if you’ll be swimming in the ocean. In a recent race I did at the Camp Pendleton Sprint Tri, the starting wave did not take note of the strong current and swam an additional 200-500 yards at least. Those that caught on and realized they needed to start their swim further down to avoid fighting a current, were able to gain a few hundred yards (which equates to at least a 2-5 minute lead) HUGE.

For Your Safety..

If you’re not an experienced swimmer, trying to get past the waves (or break) will be almost impossible if it’s a large wave day, and incredibly dangerous. Check to see if there is a lifeguard on duty if possible, who will quickly notify you of any potential dangers such as undertows or rip currents. If you do have a higher anxiety about open water swimming, choosing a day when there’s greater visibility out in the water (usually on a sunnier day) is certainly a smart idea. If the ocean seems far too terrifying, I would highly recommend swimming in some kind of bay or lake if you can access one. There’s fewer possibilities of potential anxiety triggers, and will serve as a great way to segue you into unprotected open water swims. It’s incredibly important when you’re getting into any body of water to not go alone. You never know what’s going to happen in the water. As an example, a fellow friend of mine was swimming in the bay when an unsuspecting 10 foot wood oar split his head open from a boater. He luckily had friends to drive him to the hospital. With that said, there’s a reason fish swim in schools. So should you!

Specific Open Water Techniques for Racing

Where the heck do you put yourself in the start of the swim pack? Before you answer, consider this: Would you hop in the fast lane on a 5-lane freeway going 45 and expect to not get honked at, tail gated, or dirty looks? Probably not. The swim isn’t a good idea to do this either. Line up according to your ability. Fast swimmer? Jump to the front. Let’s just say if you’re swimming a sub 7 or sub 6 minute 500 yard time, you’d do fine at the front. Mediocre swimmer? Get to the middle. Consider this the equivalent of how people stagger themselves at 5k’s and marathon starts. It’s also smart to place yourself on the outskirts of the pack, not directly in the center. If swimming isn’t exactly your caveat, stay towards the back. You’ll thank yourself later. You will avoid unwanted kicks and elbows this way. Once you’ve figured out how to place yourself, let’s think about how you’re going to get yourself through the waves, or from the sand to the water. With a technique known as dolphin diving, getting through the shallower water and under the waves will save you time and energy (and maybe a few waves to the dome). Below you can find a perfect example of how to do this. I do not recommend doing this if you’re a beginner in very shallow water (let’s say, below the knees). Once you become more familiar with this type of diving, you can utilize it in shallower waters, but I wouldn’t recommend it until you get a better grasp. This method is often used in lake swims as well.

Once you’re past the waves or initial start of the swim, you’ll feel pretty crowded. In the majority of open water swims, the wave of people you start with will spread out within the first few minutes. The only race I’ve participated in that this is not the case is an Ironman. The Ironman Arizona swim will never throughout the 2.4 miles of swimming, spread out. Back to the point. Most races will. You’ll begin to feel synced with your stroke. However, it is IMPERATIVE you are looking up. This is what we call “spotting” in open water. Everyone will tell you differently on how often you should be raising your head to see where you are, but I say a good rule of thumb would be every 10-30 strokes, depending on how experienced with this you are. Most triathlons will have you swimming in some kind of twisted triangle or rectangle similar to the one pictured below:

There will be buoys marking the corners, which are what we’ll call your trackers. They’re huge and brightly colored. You need to make sure you’re staying in line with these trackers, by picking up your head to see where you’re going. The only reason you swim in a straight line in the pool is because of the fat solid black line you swim on top of to keep you in check. It’s a good idea to practice spotting in a pool, or at least practice in open water prior to racing. You can easily add on a few hundred yards or more depending on how long your swim is if you’re not spotting the buoys. You also might swim yourself into a nice kayak, which are often conveniently located right in the middle of the line of swimmers. I myself have smacked my head hard on one of these puppies and proceeded to blame it on the nice kayak volunteer for being in my way. Point being, look up. The example above is of a lake swim. Most ocean swims will have you swimming parallel to shore, which means you’ll have the waves at your back coming in. Body surfing these in and beginning to dolphin dive once it’s about waist deep can save you some precious time.

Key Points To Take Away…

  • Pools aren’t a substitute for open water
  • Get the necessary gear to make your life easier for open water swimming
  • DO NOT swim alone or at least tell someone on shore you’re swimming and to keep an eye out
  • Learn how to study your surroundings; know the currents and swells
  • Place yourself correctly at the start of the swim start in a triathlon
  • Learn what spotting and dolphin diving are and how to utilize them (know your swim course as well)
  • Enjoy it! Stay calm, and remember why you started it all in the first place

Further Guides to Help:

Sleeved Wetsuit or Sleeveless?

Choosing the Right Triathlon Wetsuit

Printable Triathlon Gear Checklist

Wetsuit Fitting Diagram

Do I Need a Wetsuit?

A common question among first time triathletes is, “Do I need a triathlon wetsuit?” Wetsuits are almost always recommended in triathlons, but I’m writing this from the perspective of necessity.

This is a big concern because it’s often a hefty monetary investment, beating out the entry fee for a first timer. You can usually borrow a friend’s bike, or use your own hybrid/mountain/beater, but wetsuits are a different story because the fit is particular to a person’s body.

So do you need a wetsuit?

Wetsuit Fitting Diagram

I know it's not the most appropriate image for the article, but hey I thought it was helpful.

It depends.

Off the bat, when the water temperature is warm enough, wetsuits can be banned outright by the race, or permissible but rendering the athlete ineligible for awards.   If you’ve signed up for a race that falls under this instance, you won’t need one.

The USA Triathlon (USAT) rules on this point:

  • If the water is 78 degrees or lower, you can wear wetsuits without any issues.
  • But if the water is 78.1 – 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards.
  • If the water temperature is 84 degrees or above, wetsuits are banned outright.

The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC/Ironman) rules on this point:

  • If the water is 76.1F degrees  or below, wetsuits are allowed without issues.
  • If the water is 76.1 – 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits, but will not be eligible for awards.
  • If the water temperature is 84 degrees or above, wetsuits are banned outright.

For races where wetsuits are allowed (meaning the water temperature is on the cooler side), there are a few factors to consider.  Let’s get started.

Is it a pool swim?

If yes, there’s no need.  Have a good race!

No?

Is it an ocean swim?

If yes, then a wetsuit is recommended.   Waves and currents make ocean swimming challenging, especially for the more casual swimmer.  Having a wetsuit helps with buoyancy, making it easier to stay afloat, and also helps  you swim faster.  It’s a safety net of sorts, as the wetsuit can do quite a bit of work for you.  But if you’re a life long swimmer, and it’s a badge of pride to swim only with a jammer or bathing suit, perhaps this doesn’t apply. There is no doubt that a wetsuit will still provide benefits even if you don’t really need it to finish the race.

Not an ocean swim?

Is it a Lake swim?

If yes, a wetsuit is generally still recommended for the benefits of buoyancy as noted above.  But, the need here isn’t as dramatic.  Calm lake swims in bearable waters is something you may already do every summer.  Enjoy.  Same analysis for the life long swimmer as noted above. A wetsuit will provide benefits even if you are a great swimmer.

But what if the water is super cold?

Then yes, it’s recommended, but you might be able to abate the cold by also using a neoprene swim cap under your colored race swim cap provided to you.  This is where those life long swimmers would fall into. For all categories of people you should probably get a suit to help combat the cold.

Do you need all the help you can get?

A young lady I helped in the store told me, “I need all the help I can get.”  She blurted this statement as part of a logical assessment of her newbie abilities after I explained to her the different attributes and levels of suits we carry.  She ended up going with a Zoot Women’s Prophet that was on sale, fitting into her budget.   If you, like her, are not very confident in your swimming abilities and have heard yourself saying this, then you will take solace in having a wetsuit for the race.

It doesn’t have to be a high-end wetsuit, but practically any of the popular swim/triathlon wetsuits would give you the help you’ll need. I won’t argue the fact that a more expensive wetsuit generally offer more benefits. However I will say that there are so many choices out there that sometimes the most expensive option isn’t the best option for you.

So after going through this exercise, you may have concluded that a wetsuit is something you need.

I’ve compiled a few wetsuit resources along with actual products for your research:

Best of luck to you on your search for a triathlon wetsuit.

Helix Wetsuit Review

The Helix. Crazy. Fast.

Finally, a high-end wetsuit designed for an elite level athlete. The Helix wetsuit is designed for athletes who understand that certain wetsuits may increase your buoyancy to the point where the suit counteracts a strong swimmer’s stroke, forcing them to float too high in the water, interrupting a memorized motion that’s been practiced and refined for years. Blue Seventy’s top-tier design keeps athletes neutrally buoyant while strategically placed buoyancy panels deliver float in all the right areas.

In addition to a high-performance body position the Helix offers a rare and dangerously thin 1mm thickness in both the shoulders and arms, giving the athlete serious range of motion but also allows for a greater “feel” of the water. This means that the athlete is more aware of their arm position, encouraging better technique and a more efficient overall stroke.

This is a great thing if you’re a serious swimmer looking for a serious suit, but for the serious triathlete the Helix not only offers full graduated compression in the legs of the suit, improving blood flow; the back of the knee is composed of special flex panels to keep your transition bound legs pumping up the beach without added resistance.

The reverse zip design is yet another advanced attribute that is designed for a more masterful athlete. What it means for you:

  • Faster suit exit
  • Can’t be pulled down by other swimmers
  • Thinner neck results in greater comfort and improved sighting

This is far and away the Helix’s greatest design triumph and tragedy. Honesty, I can’t zip it without help, period, which is where for me the suit looses some of it’s luster. If you’re a strong swimmer, advanced triathlete or swim stroke nerd then the Helix will be the fastest suit you’ve ever worn or will ever wear and if you’re not, you have a suit to look forward to wearing when all that training and coaching pays off.

Blue Seventy Axis Review


Oh swimming. With 85% of triathletes coming from a running, cycling, or other background, it’s no wonder so many people fear this leg of the race the most. If  swimming isn’t your strength, Blue Seventy has an answer. The Axis. Blue Seventy has recognized the fact that there’s different needs for different types of swimmers. Some athletes have denser leg compositions due to established thigh muscles and dense calves. Many of these swimmers tend to drop their lower half in the water. Thus, the Axis was innovated with balanced buoyancy zones. This suit in particular focuses higher buoyancy in the hips, thighs and lower legs. This helps to elevate the lower body, creating a more streamlined position in the water, and more efficient stroke for the swimmer.

The Blue Seventy Axis was also designed with Femme Fit, a design unique for women, designed by blue seventy. This fit is designed with a woman’s shapes, curves and all skill levels taken into mind. There should never be a one-cut fits all wetsuit on the market. Clearly, a woman’s body is shaped differently, and wetsuits should reflect this. Here are the differences:

  • Lowered neckline
  • Extended zipper length to accommodate wider hips, and in aiding exiting and entering suit
  • Slimmer, 1.5mm thick arms to allow for higher stroke cadence
  • Re-design of suit in bust and torso area (women tend to have shorter torsos)
  • A wider range of sizes to choose from (7 to be exact) from XS to Large Athena
  • 360-flex reach panels to create supreme flexibility and arm maneuverability

With all of this said, I hear over and over within wetsuit sales, “I need all the help I can get in the water and I’m not a strong swimmer. Which wetsuit do you recommend?”

The Axis it is.

TYR Hurricane Category 5 Wetsuit Review

TYR Hurricane Category 5

Over the weekend, I was looking at my Facebook feed and saw some photos from Age Group Nationals in Vermont.  What floored me a bit was the fact that so many people were wearing TYR wetsuits, in particular the Cat 5!  Being the inquisitive I am, it warranted further investigation.

The Facts:

  • The wetsuit is made of the highest grade Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene, with 40 where the red stripes are on the shoulders.  This allows for unparalleled flexibility.
  • A higher cut on the legs makes this suit extremely easy to put on and take off.
  • The wetsuit itself was designed with valuable input from pros such as Andy Potts.
  • Over 30 of the top triathletes switched to the Hurricane before it even launched.  To name a few, Chrissie Wellington, Andy Potts, Mirinda Carfrae, Hilary Biscay.
  • Graded force catch panels – Thick graded panels are strategically aligned on the forearm to allow a catch and pull stroke like a built-in paddle.

The Swim

  • Shoulders feel great
  • Core stabilization feature is impressive.  The material that ends up wrapping around your core seems to separate the rest of your body, to ensure a proper swim form.

Taking it Off

  • Taking off the Hurricane Cat 5 was pretty easy, especially when it’s wet, thanks to the higher cut on the legs.

TYR makes their Cat 5 as a sleeveless wetsuit as well.  See the rest of the TYR Hurricane Wetsuits.

TRISLIDE and BodyGlide

We’ve all made the same mistake and suffered similar chafing consequences and while we can’t all be “Slippery Pete’s”, the alternative to having a natural friction free sheen has been either BodyGlide or the new to market, TRISLIDE.

Both of these products offer a silicone based formula so that it applies and stays where you want it to, forgoing the days of applying Vaseline or cooking spray which stains clothes, washes away with sweat and is just a generally messy experience. Having used both of the products I was impressed with TRISLIDE’s unique spray applicator approach and diminutive size that won’t hog a lot of space in your transition or gym bag. On the other hand, BodyGlide is every bit as functional as the new kid in school, TRISLIDE, and has more training years, chafe free miles and a tried and true race pedigree to its credit.

You can’t go wrong with either, but without, you’re facing a not so slippery slope of painful swims and running workouts which will ultimately increase recovery time and as a result, an increase in race times. Pick up a stick or can and you’ll know what I mean.

TYR Hurricane Category 3 Wetsuit

“You’re only as fast as your wetsuit will let you be.”-TYR


With that said, and your money pockets taken into consideration, feast your eyes on the Category 3. TYR’s Hurricane wetsuit series is composed of three tiers (pun intended), 1, 3, and 5. For those that want the primary technologies of the Category 5, but don’t want to spend top dollar, the C3 is the perfect option for a mid range suit. The wetsuit boasts light-weight Yamamoto 38/39 SCS coated neoprene, as well as varying 5mm panels. The high-buoyancy 5mm panels found in the chest, legs, and core were designed to help the swimmer to be elevated in the water and keep the swimmer from dropping their lower half. This feature, known as Speed Wrap Paneling, as well as the ones listed below were carried over from the CAT 5. The only features the Category 3 doesn’t come with when comparing it the 5, are that the entire surface area isn’t 100% Yamamoto Nano SCS rubber, and the inside isn’t lined with soft jersey fabric.

  • Free Range of Motion Zones – Less pinching and constriction, meaning more flexible reach.
  • Form Fitting Wrist Cuffs – Multi-stretch cuffs at the wrist allow powerful strokes while keeping water from entering the suit.
  • Quick Release Ankle Cuffs – Tapered legs allow for a speedy release of the suit without much effort.
  • 360 degree core stabilization system: Creates the sensation of your core feeling a wrap-around support which works to elevate the swimmer, ensuring optimal body position and saving energy over the long-term of the swim.
  • Graded Force Catch Panels: Paneling along forearm allows for greater pull in the water, such as a built-in paddle would.

If you do have an entry-level wetsuit and want to make the upgrade to a mid range suit that’s going to come with all the bells and whistles, the Hurricane Category 3 by TYR is great choice. Check out this wetsuit and many other triathlon wetsuits at One Tri.

Zoot Fuzion Sleeveless Wetsuit Review

Looking for a Sleeveless Wetsuit?  The Zoot Fuzion might be a great candidate in your search for your first or all around training triathlon wetsuit.

Offering nine sizes, this wetsuit was designed to ensure a proper fit on different body types.   A notable feature on this suit is that fact that it’s made with Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene.  It’s the world’s most light weight and low-density rubber, making the suit extremely flexible, buoyant, and durable.  This translates to more speed.

The Fuzion also has a tapered collar line SCS smoothskin, which will help minimize chafing.  An updated cuff construction seals out water, and helps with getting the wetsuit on and off, giving it a feature that many entry-level wetsuits do not have.

The torso and thighs are 5mm,  sleeve and underarms are 1.5mm, and in the legs between 3-4mm.

Links of note:

Orca Alpha Review

My first impression on the Alpha is that it’s another flagship wetsuit from a quality manufacturer, and it is. What I’ve discovered is that reviews or outside industry impressions are scarce and far-between for the Alpha and that the majority of the copy on the internet comes straight from Orca’s marketing department. Allow me to fill in the blanks.

You can expect the standard top of the line qualities from the Alpha: 40 cell Yamamoto, Nano SCS coating, quick out ankles etc. These are all features that have become commonplace most of the uncommon top tiered suits but what sets the Alpha apart from the rest of the pack are three key features.

  1. The Alpha’s shoulders are ridiculously thin. 1.5mm thin to be exact. The idea is that you want a balance between form and function and the 1.5mm thickness gives your body the range of motion needed for your swim stroke without sacrificing buoyancy.
  2. Instead of simply adding a gripper or pattern for the catch panel the Alpha instead features a 3mm thick contoured catch panel, branded as “AquaTread”. The added thickness layered on the super thin 1.5mm shoulders/arms gives the suit just a bit more buoyancy positioned in the perfect place
  3. “Aerodome” 5mm neoprene.  Orca took a 5mm cut of it’s 40cell Yamamoto neoprene, put a bunch of holes in it and then sealed it. The holes increase the buoyancy of the paneled areas by 30%, trapping air and using it to keep your tired rear afloat.

After looking over the suit I can’t wait to take it out for a test swim and as far as flagship wetsuits go, the Alpha is now at the top of my list.

Sleeveless vs Sleeved Tri Wetsuits

It’s a roaring debate between some, others it’s a cut and dry situation, but still the debate remains: is there an added benefit to swimming with or without sleeves? The short answer is sleeved tri wetsuits will always be faster, but then again, only for some.

The facts:

Sleeved

If looks could kill this suit would leave competitors dead in the water
  • Added buoyancy (aids in sighting strokes as well)
  • More efficient glide stroke
  • Greater surface area with addition of catch panels
  • Increased insulation for colder water swims
  • By far the more popular version of triathlon wetsuit
  • Can potentially keep water out better (which means less weight to pull)

Sleeveless

  • Greater range of motion
  • Less strain on shoulders
  • Better feeling of the catch
  • Increase in comfort for warmer water

What the debate ultimately boils down to is which suit best fits your body type and the water conditions that you’re racing in. If you have shoulder problems from an injury or surgery or an old-school/hardcore swimmer, you will notice an added benefit from wearing a sleeveless suit. If you’re a struggling swimmer looking to gain from added buoyancy or a hardcore racer looking for the latest and greatest to shave off a few seconds on your splits, a full-sleeve suit is what you’re looking for.

Debate over sleeved vs. sleeveless wetsuits at the Slow Twitch forum:

http://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/When_is_a_sleeveless_wetsuit_faster_P3430382

What triathlon wetsuit is the best? – This is another resource to help you determine which tri wetsuit is right for you. If you want to learn more about buying the right triathlon wetsuit this article may help.

Zoot Conduit Review

Last Thursday, I went out for a group swim at Corona Del Mar with some work peeps, and grabbed the Zoot Conduit to use.  I’ve always liked (rather, I hated the least) helping people put this suit on because it is fairly easy to do so.  It has stretchy flex panels, and the arms are thin yet durable to where I’m not afraid to put a puncture through it.

The verdict?!  My thought was… Why would I ever need another suit?  And, what would an extra 200 bucks buy me?!  The suit’s amazing for the price point.  My favorite features are the arms.  Relatively speaking, I’m barely able to notice that I have a giant rubber band wrapping around my body when I’m out swimming.

This suit has the mark of Karen Sing, the queen of neoprene, who is perhaps the most well-known wetsuit designer in the industry.  If you’re a wetsuit nerd, the Conduit, resembles Profile Design’s Marlin in that it also has flex panels through the suit.  It’s no surprise, as Ms. Sing is currently at Profile Design working her magic.

This is a great suit for a “mid-level” price point.  If you’re looking for something better than a base model, the money you spend on this wetsuit is worth every penny.

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

Nineteen Frequency Wetsuit

With awesome flexibility, the Nineteen Frequency Wetsuit features excellent freedom of movement in the upper body,  and delivers the speed and buoyancy where it’s needed.

  • Dual Seal Zipper – unique hidden zipper design features an additional internal seal next to the skin to further reduce water entry.
  • Uncollar – This will make you forget about uncomfortable and restrictive wetsuit collars. With its ultra-thin dual-sided construction and just the right height, you will forget that the suit has a collar.
  • Wingspan System – This is the evolution of Nineteen’s ground breaking flex panel. Now incorporating Yamamoto Cell 40 foam with an all-new ultra-stretch jersey, this 1.5mm panel is contoured around your lats and reaches all the way to your lower back. When combined with high-stretch arms, seamless shoulder construction and more 1.5mm neoprene on the side of your body, the Frequency encourages body roll and a fluid swim stroke — all designed to improve your swim technique.
  • PT Buoyancy Panels – The PT Buoyancy panel puts the most 5mm neoprene where you need it the most, around the hips. This lifts the hips in the water putting your body in the most powerful and hydrodynamic position possible.
  • Easy Off Legs – A very stretchy 2mm stretch panel covers the entire back of the calf allowing for ultra fast leg removal. The Frequency is fast in the water and fast on land.
  • Arm Grips  – These unique silicon seal bands at each wrist will minimize water leakage at this critical point allowing for fast and smooth hand entry and catch.

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

Zoot Conduit Wetsuit Review

I had the joy of swimming in the Zoot Conduit wetsuit, (formerly known as the Synergy), last weekend in an ocean swim. Quite frankly, after experiencing superior range of motion and essentially feeling like Gumby, I came to the conclusion alongside my co-worker that there really shouldn’t be any other triathlon wetsuit on your radar in this price range. That’s a bold statement coming from somebody who comes from a strong swim background and has swum in some of the best wetsuits on the market.

Here are some factuals on the Conduit as to why I most likely came to this wetsuit conclusion:

The tri wetsuit is a combination of 5mm, 4mm, and 1.5mm. What importance is this? The 5mm in the body gives you supreme buoyancy while the 1.5mm in the arms and shoulder makes for unsurpassed flexibility. The grade of neoprene is c39 with scs nano coating, which is on the higher end grade of materials. GLIDEflex panels can be found around the center of the chest where the arms stem away from your sternum, as well as down the ribs and continuing down the side of the legs. This feature is specific to this wetsuit, and one of the reasons I felt like I could move so well. The paneling allows for easy stretch and give where the limbs branch out from the core, allowing for free flowing movement.

Zoot has won me over with this suit. Perfect solution to upgrading your entry level wetsuit.

Get the Zoot Conduit Tri Wetsuit at One Tri.

Nineteen Tsunami Wetsuit

The Nineteen Tsunami is Nineteen’s mid level suit with advanced features second only to the Nineteen Frequency.  The 5mm of neoprene on the legs assist with providing the optimal swim body position.

  • Yamamoto Arms – In combination with WingSpan Lite, the Pipeline employs full Yamamoto neoprene in the arms to provide unmatched flexibility in its class.
  • Wingspan Lite – Built on the success of the Frequency’s WingSpan System, the Pipeline now has twice the stretch panel size of its predecessor. More importantly, the shape of WingSpan Lite provides an even greater benefit; by extending down your sides our all new pattern allows for greater extension and improved body roll. In addition, WingSpan Lite encircles your shoulders for unrestricted swimming.
  • 253 System – Successful pattern places varying thicknesses of neoprene where they are most effective at maintaining excellent body position and optimum flexibility.
  • Speed Cut Leg Opening – Speedcut leg and arm openings use elliptically cut ankle and wrist cuffs to deliver the fastest possible exits.
  • Uncollar – This will make you forget about uncomfortable and restrictive wetsuit collars. With its ultra-thin dual-sided construction and just the right height, you will forget that the suit has a collar.
  • Dual Seal Zipper – unique hidden zipper design features an additional internal seal next to the skin to further reduce water entry.

Here’s a video

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Nineteen Pipeline Wetsuit

Noted has having the most accurate sizing chart, Nineteen Wetsuits developed its wetsuit by balancing superior craftsmanship with exceptional value. The Nineteen Pipeline features a maximum of 5mm of to provide the swimmer of needed buoyancy.

Nineteen Pipeline

A notable feature of the wetsuit is the variance in neoprene thickness, 2-5-3, on the arms, torso and legs. This variance is important with triathlon wetsuits, as different parts of the body require different neoprene thickness to encourage proper swimming form. The higher cut on the legs allows for faster transition. Still unsure about this wetsuit? Nineteen Wetsuits features a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty, the longest in the industry. Brilliant.

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2XU T:2 Wetsuit

Update 02/16/13:
The latest 2013 wetsuit will be coming out soon. In the mean time here is a link to the current 2XU T3 wetsuit: 2XU T3 Wetsuit.

The 2XU T:2 Team Wetsuit is an update to last year’s T:0 suit that was wildly popular at triathlons everywhere. As an “entry-level” triathlon wetsuit, the T:2 packs quite a few features that makes it stand out from other suits in its class.  Just check out this wetsuit comparison chart and see for yourself!

Composed with 39 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene,  the 2XU T2 wetsuit has rollbar, floating zip and transition panels coated with both SCS and 2xU’s proprietary SXS coating, making the suit slick and fast.  The 2011 updates include strakes running down the chest to improve your direction in swim.  This feature is cool, as it was unique to the V:1 from the past two years.

The floating zip enhances flexibility in the back panel which allows the zip to move in partnership with the body, especially during the recovery and catch phase of the stroke.

On the legs, the panels are 3mm thick, giving the swimmer enough flexibility to run into transition and to remove the wetsuit.  On the shoulder and arms, it’s 2mm, giving you the flexibility and range of motion you’ll need during your swim.

With all these updates, it’s fair to say that this is an entirely new suit!  Back by 2XU’s 2 year warranty and wide range of sizes available, you can rest assured that you’re covered, for both defects and fit.

More triathlon wetsuit resource links:

  • All triathlon wetsuits – OneTri.com offers one of the largest
  • 2XU Wetsuits  – Here is a link to all current 2XU wetsuits
  • Triathlon Wetsuit Rentals –  Here is one of the largest triathlon wetsuit selections on the internet. You find another place that allows a large selection of “try-to-buy” rental wetsuits.
  • Wetsuit Buying Guide – Here is a helpful triathlon wetsuit buying guide that is updated yearly
  • Wetsuit Comparison Chart – This is a men’s triathlon wetsuit comparison chart but it applies to wome’s wetsuits as well
  • Triathlon Equipment Guides and Articles – Here’s another resource for triathlon gear guides and articles

2XU R:1 Race Wetsuit

The Setup

Picture this: You’re a sophomore triathlete now with some mad masters honed swim skills, but you got mouths to feed/bills to pay/or you’re a student without a big budget, and you need wetsuit to replace the cheapest tri wetsuit you bought online last year. What to do? Wetsuits are tricky, but there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Fit – a proper fit in terms of wetsuits is worth almost everything. You’re looking to see what kind of panels the suit has, and where. You’re going to want to try it on to see how it feels. When buying online, you can usually return the wetsuit back to the retailer if it doesn’t fit after an initial try on – like with us at OneTri.com.
  • Material – Does it have Yamamoto Neoprene? Yamamoto neoprene is commonly used for its quality and SCS coating. It’s pretty common in wetsuit but not all triathlon wetsuits are made with Yamamoto which isn’t always a bad thing. What cell? With higher cell neoprene usually comes more flexibility. It usually also means that it is easier to tear because it has a higher density of air pockets in the neoprene. Common cell ratings are 38, 39, and 40. 39 is found in most mid to high level wetsuits. 40 is almost always found in high-end wetsuits in select areas due to its flexibility.
  • Coating – Does it have some sort of coating, such as SCS or the manufacturer’s proprietary coating?
With the above in mind, I’d like to introduce the 2XU R:1 Race wetsuit as a mid-level replacement or addition to what you currently own as part of your triathlon gear. Below is more of the 2XU R1 Wetsuit Review.
Features on the 2XU R:1 Race Wetsuit
This 2xu R1 wetsuit features Yamamoto 39 Cell Neoprene, and has 2XU’s proprietary coating throughout the suit. What this means is that you’re going to feel like an aquatic animal (think dolphins, seals, or if you’re so inclined, a shark) gliding through the water. On the forearm (the blue looking surface that runs from the wrist to the elbow), is a catch panel that helps you grab more water during the catch phase of your stroke. The catch panel feature it something you’ll probably never see on an entry-level suit.
As far as the thickness of the 2xu R1, in the shoulder area, it’s 1.5 mm, and along the torso and chest, it’s 4.5mm. This variance is aligned with mid to higher category suits, as the smaller 1.5 mm shoulder thickness is for greater flexibility, and the 4.5mm along the chest torso area is for buoyancy. The lines you see running down the chest are strakes that should help you going in a single direction. Backed by 2XU’s 2 year warranty, and wide range of available sizes (11 for men, 5 for women), this suit will fit most body types.
Piqued your interest? Go to OneTri.com to add the 2XU R:1 to your cart today to try it out for yourself!

More triathlon wetsuit resource links:

  • All triathlon wetsuits – OneTri.com offers one of the largest triathlon wetsuit selections in the nation (Current count is 11 brands).
  • 2XU Wetsuits – Here is a link to all current 2XU wetsuits
  • Triathlon Wetsuit Rentals –  Here is one of the largest triathlon wetsuit selections on the internet. You find another place that allows a large selection of “try-to-buy” rental wetsuits.
  • Wetsuit Buying Guide – Here is a helpful triathlon wetsuit buying guide that is updated yearly
  • Wetsuit Comparison Chart – This is a men’s triathlon wetsuit comparison chart but applies to women’s wetsuits as well.
  • Triathlon Equipment Guides and Articles – Here’s another resource for all types of triathlon gear guides and articles.

Orca Equip Review

Intro

Moderately priced at $299, the Orca Equip Wetsuit is an excellent choice for what is considered in its price point, a mid-tier triathlon wetsuit.

Specs

With SCS coating throughout the majority of the Orca Equip wetsuit, its composition is 39 cell Yamamoto neoprene.  At the torso, chest and and arms, the thickness is 2mm.  Varying neoprene thickness throughout the suit is important, as less neoprene is needed in certain areas, notably the arms.  You’ll likely want the flexibility and range of motion there.

Throughout the lower back and torso, 3-5mm neoprene panels are used throughout the suit for buoyancy.  This is important, many swimmers, eh hem, triathletes tend to sink their lower half of the body while they swim.

Insights

The one insight I would impart is the fact that the Equip, like other Orca wetsuits, have a “performance” fit to them.  Because many of us don’t have the luxury to try on wetsuits before buying them, this bit of information might be important.  When you fall in between sizes, it’s not a bad idea to select a size up when making the purchase.  From my experience fitting people, and back when I took a lot of customer service calls, this was often the case with these types of suits.

Conclusion

The Orca Equip is a good buy.  My person philosophy with triathlon wetsuits is that because they’re thrashed at races, and heavily used in training, I don’t intend them to last often more than two years.  Because this is a suit with all the key intermediate features, at this price point it’s a no brainer.  But if you’re able to afford it, and are in the market for higher end  Orca Wetsuits, a Sonar, 3.8, and Alpha is something worth looking into.

If you are just getting started and want a list of all reputable triathlon wetsuits just click on this link: triathlon wetsuits. Best of luck with your training, races, and wetsuit search.

Aqua Sphere Phantom Wetsuit

When you wear briefs to do all your Ironman triathlons, you probably mean business, or perhaps your name is Faris Al-Sultan (triathlete pro and Ironman World Champion).  The new Aqua Sphere Phantom was developed with significant amount of feedback by pros Faris Al-Sultan and Terenzo Bozzone (triathlete pro and Ironman 70.3 World Champion), leading to a wetsuit that has three patent pending technologies.  I got a chance to preview this suit, and I thought I’d share a few tidbits.

  • Auto Positioning Sleeve – A 5mm forearm band. This band acts as a visual cue to encourage proper hand and arm rotation.  More importantly, it promotes high elbows for good swim form.
  • Core Power System – more than just a fancy name for new technology.  This system is an actual girdle that wraps around your lower back to help stabilize your core while you’re swimming.  Better stable core = better swim form.  This system also helps make the suit a little tighter there to ensure water is kept out.
  • Reserved Zipper – The zipper is “reversed”.  Pulling it down zips it up, and zipping up opens up your suit.  I like this system better.
  • Bio-Stretch Zone – The zone that is referred to here is a 1mm that spans from the front of your arm pit down to your lower back resembling the shape of on side of an apple when you slice it from the top.  This zone is marked by green paneling.  This provides excellent freedom of movement as a result.
  • Automatic Six-Pack – The suit outlines unabashedly outlines a six pack for you, need I say more?
  • Rooted in Aqua Sphere’s long history in Diving, the suit includes a wrist gusset that makes it virtually leak proof on the cuff.
  • Yamamoto 39.

With its price point pegged in the mid-$600, this is considered a high end wetsuit that comes with some very intricate features that is unique to the Phantom.  It’s a very cool suit, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of these on the course.

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