The Lanzarote wetsuit test – March 2017

A few weeks back now in March 4 of our coaches and a bunch of Total Tri athletes ventured out to the Canary Islands for some warm weather training. Getting away from the British weather and the stresses of work and family commitments allows the athletes to train like a “Pro” for the week whilst ensuring they get the tan just right to be the envy of others at the early season races that are just around the corner! This year, the destination was Lanzarote and Sands Beach with it’s outdoor pools, 25 degree climate and hopefully not too much wind!!!

At Total Tri we have spent a lot of time looking at this decade’s latest craze -“Marginal Gains“. This phrase has become a marketing dream for the triathlon brands and retailers alike, with athletes emptying their bank accounts looking to save 2 watts here and 4 seconds there, telling the other half the new wheels cost a tenth of what they really cost and paying cash for £300 skin suits so “the missus” never finds out how! Let us not forget that the phrase marginal gains comes from the idea that after you do “ALL” the right training to be as fast as possible you are then looking for the extra time savings to maximise your race and this is not a way of skimping on the training and expecting that a ten grand bike will put you in the mix come race day. There are no shortcuts in this sport, just extra ways to refine what you are already doing.

We spent a lot of time last year working on savings on the bike from helmets to skin suits and tyre choice to bike position and we continue to refine this but head coach Chris felt that with the Total Tri retail store in Chester (part of long established sports retailer ‘Sail and Ski inc Total Tri‘ in the Chester city centre) stocking such a good selection of wetsuits from Huub, Blue Seventy and Zoot it was time to see how you could save more time in the swim. An area that a lot of age group triathletes would love to see improve.

After a bit of beg, borrow and steal Chris and Phil managed to acquire 4 of the fastest suits on the market for heading out to camp in Lanza and the “Big wetsuit test” idea was born.

How did we conduct the test?

The idea is very simple. A blind test with each swimmer in their own lane, not allowed to see the clock at any point. Each swimming 5 x 100m at tempo effort or 70.3 race pace, a pace easily sustainable for 3 suits each with the fastest and slowest time of each 5 struck off and the remaining 3 times averaged out. A timer sat at the end of each lane telling the swimmer when to leave on their allotted turn around time (1.30 for Chris and 1.35 for Phil, enough rest to keep the swimmer from becoming fatigued and losing any form). 5 minutes for the swimmer to swap suits between each 5 x 100m – Simple! Chris may have forgotten to mention we were doing this at 6.30am and the warm up was actually in the dark…….

Why would we do this test?

Having the choice of so many suits and so much marketing blurb these days we wanted to try to show that all of these brands make super fast suits. It is how they fit the individual that really counts.

What suits did we test?

Chris

Huub Archemedies 2 – Chris has used this model of suit the last 2 years
Zoot Wikiwiki
Blue Seventy Helix

Phil

Zoot Wikiwiki
Blue Seventy Helix
Zoot Prophet 2.0 – Phil has used this model of suit the past 4 years in various versions

And the Winner is………………………..

Drum roll please! Well not quite. There really was no winning wetsuit. Exactly what we had set out to prove. Both of our results came back with a clear winner and we both felt we could even feel which suit was fastest in the water which was interesting but as you can see below Phil was much faster per 100 in the Blue Seventy Helix and Chris in the Zoot Wikiwiki (which is handy as he loves the look of it!).  1.1-1.2 seconds per 100m over the suit they had both been racing in last season is pretty significant – and if you take out the tumble turns which should all be the same speed the difference in open water could been greater still.

Average time per 100m Average time per 100m
WETSUIT CHRIS PHIL
Zoot Wikiwiki 1.08:98 1.18:47
Blue Seventy Helix 1.09:10 1.17:13
Zoot Prophet 2.0 1.18.25
Huub Archemedies 2 1.10:25

Significantly, both athletes commented that the suit that felt the tightest  fit without feeling restrictive (Chris felt the body length a little short for him on the Helix although the suit was very snug) was the fastest and they felt they knew the result before being told just on feel.

Over an Iron Distance swim this could be anything from 1-1.5 minutes saved just for a choice of suit – Maybe this isn’t a “marginal” gain after all!!!

Total Tri retail will endeavor to put on a wetsuit test in the Chester area during this summer so keep tuned in to us on social media for the latest updates.

www.facebook.com/TotalTriTraining/

Twitter – @TotalTri_UK

Sail and Ski inc. Total Tri Store
10 Queen Street,
Chester
CH1 3LG
01244 401449

 

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