Top Tech Suits Compared - The Gangloff Review
TOP TECH SUITS REVIEWED:
Men's High End Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
Arena Carbon Pro - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Blueseventy Nero XII - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Head Liquid Fire - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Dolfin Platinum2 - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Rocket Science FU2 Racer - Gangloff Review | Product Page
TYR AP12 - Gangloff Review | Product Page
FINIS Hydrospeed Velo - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Speedo LZR Elite - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Nike Flex LT - Gangloff Review | Product Page
Women's High End Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
Arena Carbon Pro - Stupp Review | Product Page
Blueseventy Nero XII - Stupp Review | Product Page
Dolfin Platinum2 - Stupp Review | Product Page
Rocket Science FU2 Racer - Stupp Review | Product Page
TYR AP12 - Stupp Review | Product Page
FINIS Hydrospeed Velo - Stupp Review | Product Page
Speedo LZR Elite - Stupp Review | Product Page
Nike Flex LT - Stupp Review | Product Page
Over the course of February, my fellow Mizzou coach Julie Stupp and I did numerous tests of the latest and greatest tech suits from the sport’s biggest brands. Our goal was to give you our independent opinions on how each tech suit fit, how the materials worked to a swimmer’s benefit and ultimately how they performed in the water.
And while we tried out each suit at least twice in the water, I would love to do a longer-term review some time in the future that takes place over 6 months or even a year. No question, tech suits change with time and wear.
Choosing a tech suit can be tricky business and you can read more about what I look for in a tech suit here. Ultimately, we found that each suit had its own unique pros and cons from its compression to water-repelling qualities to comfort and even style. Here’s our breakdown by suit.
The Arena Carbon Pro took me 10 minutes to put on. Its compression is awesome, even though the suit is quite stretchy. Hitting at the appropriate spot on my hips and knees, the Arena Carbon Pro has a great fit, even though it takes a bit of work to put on. Surprisingly, it is quite comfortable.
Though not as water-repellent as some of the other suits reviewed here, the compression owed to the suit content (52% Nylon, 47% Elastane, 1% Carbon Fiber) continues to be a highlight for me. The way the fabric is woven together gives the suit a cool checkered look, which helps both the performance and with aesthetics.
A lot of swimmers chose this suit at high-quality championship meets. I, too, feel confident wearing this suit for important races. This suit just feels right. My muscles are locked in, which allows me to move as I should through the strokes. I give this suit an A+ for performance.
Pros: compression and fit are close to perfect for this best-in-class suit
Cons: priciest suit on the market; takes a little time (and effort) to put on
The Blueseventy Nero XII was fairly easy to pull on taking me only 4-5 minutes from start to finish. Upon pulling it on, I immediately noticed its very good compression in the legs. However, I wish the compression in my hips was better; it was a little too easy to get over my hips. The suit rides a little high over the hipbones for my taste. Though some people don’t like the Steve Urkel look (am I aging myself here?), I tend to LIKE a suit that comes up a bit higher.
This suit, overall, was very comfortable and likely conducive to a long training or meet session.
Because of the composition of the suit (53% Polyamide, 47% Elastane), I felt “locked-in” in this suit; there was little give. It is also extremely water-repellent.
I like this suit and would feel comfortable wearing this suit at any championship meet. My go-to test (three strokes breaststroke for a 25-yard effort) showed me just how good this suit was; during this drill, the Blueseventy Nero XII helped me glide easily and keep my speed well into the wall. I hit the wall with some “oomph” indicating that I was gliding through the water properly. My one complaint is the compression in the hips. Even with my big booty, the suit felt a little bit loose. I give this suit a B+ for overall performance.
Pros: very comfortable for such a high performance suit; good compression in the legs
Cons: a little loose in the hips/butt; for some, it may come up too high over the hips (though I consider this attribute a pro); high price-point
The Head Liquid Fire is TIGHT and took me a full 10 minutes to put it on. It had decent compression, but it was the holes around the legs and the waist that are really tight.
Once I got it over my hips, the size of the waist was okay, but getting it over my booty (again, it is on the larger side) was quite difficult. Because the brief is not attached on the inside of the suit, I had to do some “smoothing” after I had the suit on. Taken together, if I were to order this suit again, I would likely size up.
Despite a lesser amount of Elastane (64% Nylon; 36% Elastane), the Head Liquid Fire still has good compression thanks to its small panels. These panels help it not stretch as much.
I would certainly consider choosing this suit for a race. One of the best attributes of this suit is its choice in multiple vibrant colors. Why is the color under the performance heading? I consider how you see yourself and how others see you as important components of performance. Don’t underestimate the power of confidence and intimidation. When you strut in a suit that is bright, you send a signal to your competitors that you’re not afraid to stand out.
Pros: good performance; great graphic colors
Cons: runs a little small compared to my usual sizing
The Dolfin Platinum2 was easy to pull on (even over my hips) and only took roughly 4 minutes to get into. Though I think the suit would benefit from more compression in the hips, its separate brief that is 100% nylon makes the suit extremely comfortable in all of the right places (know what I mean?).
This suit is made up of 70% Nylon and 30% Elastane which does not lend itself to extreme compression, but its ability to repel water (I could see the water beading http://youtu.be/LUnSXnnUads) gives me confidence in the suit, because you do not want your suit absorbing the water. You want your suit repelling the water, so you slide through it. This suit has stitching rather than bonding.
I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of this suit given its lower-price point! Typically, I want my suit to fit tighter, but when I dove in I felt an easy, fast glide. This reminded me that you can’t judge a book by its cover (or a suit by your initial evaluation). I think this suit is a good, solid choice and give it a B for overall performance.
Pros: beading of water; comfortable; nice price!
Cons: could have more compression compared to some of the higher-price point suits
The Rocket Science FU2 Racer felt tight, but not restrictive, allowing me to get it on in about 6 minutes. This suit rides a little higher in the back than in the front, which I really like (again with the large rump reference). It also moves with your body well. At times a suit will pull at the bottom or top as you move, but this one really stays in place.
At first glance, this suit looks like the old polyurethane suits,but is not. It has a high-polyester content with no Nylon (82% Polyester; 18% Elastane). It is not very stretchy, which is a positive in my book.
I really like the way this suit is cut and smooth's out my muscles, which contributes to the way it performs in the water. I give this suit an A- for performance.
Pros: great fit; smooth's out your muscles
Cons: drawstring issues; higher price-point
The TYR AP12 is very tight and took a lot of work to get into. A LOT, like 12 full minutes. I felt the burn in my forearms, as I pulled it up. Rather than the leg holes or waist being tight, it was the body of the suit.
The inseam is a little short, but the compression in the hips/butt is great. This suit is also available in a version that goes up even higher on the hips, but I tried the standard short version.
The content of the TYR AP12 (85% Nylon, 15% Lycra) lends to its stiff material without much give. Though the seams are stitched rather than bonded, the stitching is hidden quite well.
I consider this a very high-performance suit. I would wear this suit at any championship meet. It felt great pushing off walls at maximum speed with no slippage or movement. While I would not feel comfortable wearing this suit for an extended period of time because of how tight it is (it was even a little restricting on my turns), I have a lot of confidence in this suits ability to aid in fast swimming. I give this suit an A- for overall performance.
Pros: performance is very good; great compression
Cons: inseam is too short; drawstring difficult to stay in place
The FINIS Velo took me 5 minutes to put on. The sizing was a little funny and did not seem consistent with other suits that I tested. Next time, I will order one size larger.
Made of 71% Polyamide and 29% Elastane, this suit has very good compression. The material does not stretch a lot (a good thing in my opinion).
The FINIS Velo performs excellent in the water; however, water made it into the suit through the rear end where the fit was not perfect. I would give it a B- for overall performance, but I would really like to try this suit on again in a more appropriate size, which I am sure would bump it up to B+ or A-.
Pros: good compression; not too much stretch
Con: fit is a little funky compared to my normal sizing; make sure to get sizing right
Taking me 4 minutes to get into the Speedo LZR Elite, I noticed that it lacked in compression. However, the fit is fantastic and gave me the support I needed in all the right places. It is very comfortable and has good coverage (over your hips, down to the knees, over the butt).
Even though the material does not provide much compression, its content (70% Nylon; 30% Elastane) makes it extremely comfortable. Along with the Dolfin Platinum2, it is also the most water repellent of all of the suits reviewed here—the beading of the water is a great indicator!
Regardless of its compression, this suit performs VERY well. Its ability to repel water gives me confidence in my ability to swim fast wearing this suit. I also believe that the Speedo LZR Elite is a great choice in suit if you know you’ll be wearing it over an extended period of time (i.e. age group meet). All things considered, I give this suit an A for performance.
Pros: fits well; glides effortlessly through the water
Cons: lack of extreme compression
The Nike Flex was one of the easiest to get on taking me only 3 minutes. The suit had a little too much material, but the waist is tight, which I look for in a suit. I had a little trouble with the inside brief (you don’t want to see a picture of this), as well as the drawstring. Perhaps I should have sized-down one size.
This suit is extremely stretchy as it is made of 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex. It’s not normally the kind of material breakdown that works for me personally with the Spandex component.
I was disappointed in its performance. I was expecting more out of this suit, so it grades the lowest out of the suits among my test for performance.
Pros: tight waist leads to a good fit up top
Women's Tech Suit Reviews by Julie Stupp
I learned quickly with these reviews that I had to be careful not to judge or jump to a conclusion based on my initial opinions. My thoughts on most of the suits during my first wear, and especially the first wear before I jumped in the pool, changed after I swam. The way the suits fit before I got into the pool was quite different than after the swim, because all of these suits mold, form and accentuate different parts of the body when wet. One aspect of all tech suits is that they seem to get better with time and particularly with time in the water. These high-tech performance suits are each company’s best work and it shows in the material, manufacturing and in their performance in the pool. In this review, it was easy to highlight the winning attributes of each suit, and I truly enjoyed finding the little nuances of each brand.
The Arena Carbon Pro is another seamless high-tech racing suit that requires an athlete to take some extra caution and concentration when they’re putting the suit on. The Carbon took me somewhere between 8-10 minutes to get on, but then I spent a few minutes adjusting the shoulder straps and hip seams to make sure it was in the place. The fit of the suit is great, it is definitely snug and it holds a swimmers body in very well with its double lining and high open back. The suit is double-lined throughout the body, core and hips, but not in the legs. This tight fit means that the compression is absolutely felt in the water. The hip seams are unlike any other high tech suit I have seen. There is a small triangle where the three seams in the suit intersect on each hipbone. They work to not only the hold the hips in place with compression, but they also give you some flexibility and the necessary mobility to move in a stroke like breaststroke. Getting this seam in the right place is important not only for the fit and comfort of the suit, but also for the functionality. The Carbon is definitely a tighter suit, which is key for compression, but I could feel it in the shoulder straps. I do wish the legs of the suit were an inch longer as well, it didn’t cause any extra tightness in my quads, and I would just like the extra length for an advantage of more material.
The material of the Carbon (52% Nylon, 48% Elastane) contains carbon fibers and has a much different design than most other high-tech suits. It has a small square pattern that seams to work well on a swimmers body. When you stretch the suit with your hands, you can see the square design stretch but only in the place your pulling, not all over the suit. This is important while swimming because it means that one area of the suit’s stretch won’t cause drag or any other negatively affects in another area. The Carbon’s design and material is definitely durable and well made for a swimmers body. It has great water resistant qualities in its material. The suit produced beading and the white bubbling in the water that all swimmers look for when testing out a new high tech suit. I think the compression in the suit’s legs could have been even more impressive, if they had kept the double lining all through out the suit. The Carbon was well thought out and obviously designed to help a swimmers body slip through the water easier. It is tight yet comfortable and gets better with use.
The Carbon performed very well in the water. It’s best quality is compression. Like I said before, the compression isn’t just felt in one area or another it is felt throughout the suit evenly due to the seamless design. The Carbon even suctioned to my body more in the pool making me feel like the suit was working with me and not against me. The suit proved to be comfortable in all four strokes, but especially in the butterfly and the breaststroke. The movement of your hips and butt are most important in butterfly and breaststroke and, because of the suit’s compression in those areas, you become more aware of your movement in those two strokes. The overall slim fit not only helped to streamline my body while swimming but also on every flip turn and pullout. The tight fit in the shoulders straps and suit did create a little loss of mobility while bending over to do a start, but I think over time the suit might give a little more. The Carbon was one of the best fitting suits in the review. It has a well thought out design and is manufactured specifically for a swimmers body. This suit absolutely gives a swimmer the sought after compression advantage in the pool.
Pros: unique design and compression; because the suit is designed for a swimmers body with a durable yet mobile square pattern, it helps the swimmer feel more fluid in the pool. The suit’s overall compression can be felt in and out of the water and didn’t seem to change the more it was used, meaning it is a very durable material.
Cons: high price-point; shoulder straps and legs: the suit can feel a bit tight at first and pull on your shoulders, but hopefully with some wear this would become less noticeable. The legs of the suit could be a little longer to accommodate tall athletes and they would be ever better with the double lining
The TYR AP12 is definitely a tough suit to get into. I would suggest that a swimmer builds in extra time to their pre-race routine in order to not be rushed while putting on the AP 12. This was the only closed-back suit I tried on among the suit reviews and it turned out to be one of my favorite features of any of the high-tech suits. The closed back (or full coverage) added to the time to get the suit on, but another reason it was harder than others to fit into is because it is a tight suit. The suit is close fitting in a good way in all areas except for the seam around my leg. The seam definitely was something I noticed while swimming, but I think it could be avoided if the suit was a little bit longer in the legs. Overall the AP 12 is very well made and it definitely fits a swimmers shape.
The AP12 is made from a blend of 85% Nylon/15% Lycra with a Spandex, Nylon and Lycra lining that mold to the body in and out of the water. The suit is double- lined throughout the body, but not in the legs. This double lining is a key factor in creating the great compression you feel at all times. The only downside to the tight and compressed feeling of the AP 12 is that the material doesn’t give very much. There isn’t a lot of room for movement or flexibility on land or while swimming. I decided to test out the closed back feature and the tightness of the suit by doing a start. When I bent over the touch my toes on the starting block I had trouble doing so because the suit didn’t stretch at all. While this creates a slight inability to move, it does mean that the suit is well made and will last for a long time. I could tell that the suit had a top-notch ability to repel water because the white bubbling effect lasted for more than one dip in the pool. This is a huge advantage.
The AP12 performed very well in the pool, due to the compression, water resistance and closed-backattributes, all making the suit very likable. The suit molded to my body even better while swimming than it did on the deck. I felt the most compression in my hips and legs, which was great for swimming breaststroke. The AP12 suited all four strokes quite nicely; this would be a great suit for an I.M'er. The suit repelled the water so well that I never felt any water flow in or out of the AP12 on turns, pullouts or the start. The suit was comfortable on the shoulders but a little too tight on the lat muscles. This was where I felt a little bit of immobility in my strokes. The AP12’s structure created some of the most compressed and hydrodynamic qualities I tried on during this process. The closed back definitely closed the deal for me on this suit!
Pros: its leg and hip compression; I felt like I was wearing the AP12 and not the other way around. It is a suit that will last a long time and won’t lose its shape quickly.
Cons: on the flip side is the fact that the suit is not very flexible. Its inflexible features cause some minor mobility issues, but I think overtime it would begin to stretch out and move easier, it’s just something to consider.
The Nike Flex LT was rather easy to get on once you got past the tight legs of the suit. This ease always worries me a little bit; because I tend to think the easier it is to get a suit on, the less it will fit me properly. Unfortunately, this held true for some aspects of the suit. The legs of the suit were very tight, but the top half of the suit was too big. The suit had a high back, which I like, but it was too loose. There was too much of a separation between my skin and the suit. The top portion of the suit had too much material for my size and was unfortunately transparent. The suit’s design throughout the shoulders and upper back, as well as in the chest, was very comfortable and had an appropriate level of tightness. The overall fit of the Nike Flex LT was not as comparable to a Nike practice suit size; I would suggest getting a size smaller racing suit than you might normally wear. The good news is that Nike has been introducing a new “regular-size” line-up of suits for the Flex, and have re-sized these the current suits as “long size” – so this should really help. Definitely check with customer service when you order.
The thin material that makes up the Nike Flex LT creates a few more problems than advantages from its 80% Nylon/20% Spandex composition. There are several sections in the suit where it is double-lined for extra coverage, i.e. the chest, crotch and butt. This double lining is great for security, but the whole suit would have been better if it would have been double-lined because the sections that are made up of a single layer are see-through. Before I had even gotten wet I could see my belly button through the suit in the mirror. The double lining in the crotch is cut like a bikini bottom, which is an uncomfortable feature because it looks like you are wearing tiny underwear underneath the suit. The positive of the thin material is that you never feel weighted down in the water.
The Nike Flex LT was not as water-resistant or compressive as I would have hoped in the pool. Unfortunately the suit became a bit looser and more transparent once it got wet. These qualities obviously don’t equate to enough compression for a big race. On the other hand, the high back and comfortable shoulder straps helped make swimming any of the four disciplines a pleasure. Due to the thin nature of the suit, I worried that water collection might pose a drag problem but this was not the case. The Nike Flex LT lacked some key high-tech qualities, but it was comfortable and overall was drag resistant. The Nike Flex LT fell short for me on performance but had redeeming comfort qualities in the water.
Pros: the flawless design of the shoulder and back straps, they had just the right amount of tightness; the design in the chest was also great, because there was no room for water to creep in and collect. The Nike Flex LT did not cause any drag due to water bubbling or flapping inside the suit.
Cons: lack of high-tech qualities expected out of this higher-price point line of suits; there was a lack of compression and water resistance in the material and unfortunately the suit became transparent once it got wet.
At first, I was quite skeptical of the Dolfin Platinum2 because it only took me five minutes to put on and it made several snap, crackle and pop noises during the process – but this suit proved to be the dark horse of the review! The Platinum2 had an amazing fit in the chest, probably my favorite design yet. The cross stich on the outside combined with the inner-lining panels made me feel very secure in the suit. There would be no wardrobe malfunctions and more importantly I knew that the suit would keep me compressed throughout a race. I do wish the Platinum2 were a little bit longer, because the seam around my leg was cut too high and dug into my quads a bit. The back of the suit was high, which I like, but a little too loose. The high back left room for water to seep in the suit.
The Platinum2 was not only a comfortable fit, but also made of comfortable material consisting of 70% Nylon/30% Elastane. The suit had a great water-repellant qualities, which could be clearly seen underwater by the white bubbling affect and also when I got out of the pool; water was beading off of the suit in large quantities. On the deck, I was worried the suit might be too stretchy and could lose its shape once wet, but I was very pleased when I got in the pool and the suit molded to my shape. The cut of the suit and blended materials made for a great fit and feel in the shoulders straps and around my back. Overall the material was great; I just wish the lower back of the suit were a bit tighter.
The Dolfin Platinum2 exceeded my expectations in the pool. I was definitely surprised by how much I liked this suit. The core and chest compression made all four of my strokes, feel great. The breakouts, open turns and flip turns were also effortless in the Dolfin. The suit streamlined my body enough, while also giving me the necessary flexibility to swim properly. The only downside was the loose open back. The suit did create some drag when water would flow into the lower back. The water collection caused a bloated feeling in the suit, which isn’t ideal. But much to the contrary of my initial thoughts, the suit did not lose its shape or stretch-out at all in the water. I think this suit would last through several big meets. The Dolfin Platinum2 was the biggest surprise of the bunch. It was the dark horse competitor, who won from lane 8. It had compression, water resistance, and a flexible fit and seemed to mold to my body better, the more I wore it in the water. This is definitely a suit I would never have considered buying before – for no other reason then I wasn’t familiar with it – but now I will.
Pros: the high-quality water repellent that created an abundance of water beading off the suit; the perfect contrast between the compression in the chest and core, while still giving me flexible movement in the water. Nice price.
Cons: loose open back; because the suit doesn’t sit close enough to the body, there is some water that flows in and out of the suit and causes some unnecessary drag, while swimming.
The Blueseventy Nero XII was moderately easy to get on. It took me around 8 minutes to shimmy into from start-to-finish. Right away I knew it was a great-fitting suit. I felt the compression throughout the body of the suit, but especially in my core, which is a huge advantage in a race. I was also pleased with the comfortable fit, due to the thin yet very well manufactured cut of the material. The suit had a high back and the perfect amount of tightness in the shoulders. The only complaint I have is that the legs were a little too short; I could have used another inch or two of material for my height. I think the 28 other than the leg length was the perfect size for me in the body. After checking out the size chart my suspicions were confirmed, the size 28 was made for a 152 lb. female, but one who is only 5’8. No wonder the suit was a little short for me. I would suggest buying the suit based on your weight and not your height, because if it is too big in the body, the amazing compression qualities could be lost.
The suit’s nylon and Lycra blend of 53% Polyamide/47% Elastane was definitely sprayed with a high quality water repellent that was evident when I got out of the pool. I immediately saw a good amount of water beading off of the suit. The material didn’t lose any of its compression qualities once it got wet, which was great because that is the best quality of the suit. The Nero XII had a lot of mobility and was working with my body in the water and not against it. The only problem I could foresee with this suit is that the material on the side of my chest was not very tight, and it could show a little more than I would like after a race.
The Nero XII performed very well in the water. It was one of my favorite suits to swim in and it definitely made me more hydrodynamic because of its all-over compression. It not only compressed my core, but I realized how well it formed to my hips, thighs and butt after I swam a few laps. The suit can comfortably be swum in any stroke and made me feel streamlined. The streamlining effect carried throughout the turns, pullouts and especially the breakouts where it is easy for a tired swimmer to break their core or bodyline. There were no looming issues on the flip-turns, or in any crotch seams that have given me problems in other suits. It is obvious that Blueseventy has looked into every detail of this suit. The Nero XII was built to create a hydrodynamic swimmer, one who easily glides through the water in a compressed and comfortable high tech suit.
Pros: the most important is the compression of the suit; the suit’s cut fits the female body very well and it definitely has lasting compression qualities. I don’t see this suit wearing out anytime soon.
Cons: two minor cons of the Nero XII are the loose material around the chest and the missing inch or two on the legs. The material around the chest is by no means flapping in the water or causing any drag, but it is something I took note of. The suit was very well cut, but since I am a taller girl, I would have liked that extra inch on the legs. Perhaps in the next model, they could consider a long option, available for alternative sizing purposes.
The Speedo LZR Elite is quite a different build and fit compared to its lower-priced LZR Pro sibling! The LZR Elite took me approximately 8 minutes to get on and it did not cause me to get worn out or tired, but I was extra careful to take my time around the suit’s seams. The material surrounding the seams is rather thin, so I was worried that it might rip, when I was trying to adjust the suit and while I was securing it in all of the right places. The suit is very well manufactured and you can feel that they made this suit with a swimmer’s body in mind. It fit very well with the right amount of material in the legs, chest, back and shoulders and not too much in any one place. The high back and tight fit in the chest make me feel certain that there won’t be any drag or water flowing through the suit, while I swim. The LZR Elite was a bit tight in the shoulders and lateral muscles, but with a few more uses, I think it will become more flexible and comfortable without losing its shape.
The LZR Racer Elite came packaged with information about the material (70% Nylon Polyamide, 30% Elastane), how to put the suit on and how to care for it. This suit boasts compression panels that will enhance the swimmers performance – and it did not disappoint. The suit’s compression was most felt in the chest, hips and thighs, which is truly important in all four strokes. The best part about the material is the combination of the compression panels and the thin flexible material in between. The combo creates a comfortable, yet fast fit, because the panels create the compression, while the thin material creates the necessary mobility. This winning fusion makes swimming all four strokes easy and comfortable.
The LZR Elite performed very well in the water with definite repellant qualities on each compression panel. There was no lack of water beading off of the suit every time I got out of the pool. This is an awesome sight to see as a competitive swimmer because you know your suit is working for you and with you during every single race. It also has excellent compression in the legs that will absolutely be a lasting and a helpful quality to any swimmer who fatigues in a race. This suit made my swimming feel much more fluid because of the fit and blend of materials, there was not any pulling in one place or water pockets causing drag in another. The LZR Racer Elite highlights its two key high tech qualities of compression and water resistance very well in the pool and it did that more than just once for my testing. Bottom line, the LZR Elite is a very well manufactured suit with its high quality material and compression it makes swimming fast seem a lot more effortless.
Pros: a well thought-out product; the suit’s material combination not only makes you feel securely compressed, but also hydrodynamic, two qualities any elite swimmer wants.
Cons: a little tight in the shoulders and lat muscles during the first several uses and the thin material makes you extra cautious, when putting on or taking off the suit.
The FINIS Hydrospeed Velo was a tricky suit to get on because of the many different panels and seams of the suit. The Velo took me close to 10 minutes to get on and a majority of it was me just trying to finagle the seams and panels into the right spots. The seams created an awkward fit and look around the legs because they were much tighter than the stretchy material in between the panels. The tight seams caused my leg muscles to bulge in some areas and not in others, this created a weird feeling and also what I would imagine to be drag due to the uneven surface areas. The suit was pretty tight on my shoulders and was very low cut in the back. I kept trying to readjust where the suit sat on my shoulders and my low back, but nothing seemed to fix the problems. Unfortunately, this suit didn’t come packaged with a sizing chart but my guess is that this suit was made for a shorter swimmer.
The Hydrospeed Velo had a unique blend of materials made of 71% Polyamide, 29% Elastane that looked and felt unlike any other suits in the review. When I was wearing the suit on deck, I did not like the way the suit felt because it just didn’t seem to fit right, but after I got into the pool I had a much different opinion. Much like the look of the Speedo LZR Elite, the Hydrospeed Velo has thicker panels of compression and thin material holding the panels together. In the Velo, the thin material seems too flimsy, because it is completely transparent in the stomach area. Yet the compression in my legs and chest were terrific in this suit, especially after getting wet. The material had a way of sucking to my body and skin so much better after I jumped in the pool. Like I said before, this was completely the opposite result that I thought I was going to get while I stood on deck.
The Velo exceeded my expectations in performance mainly due to the way the suit formed to my body and shape so well after getting wet. The suit’s molding capabilities created an impressive amount of compression in my legs and chest, which helped my backstroke, freestyle, and butterfly feel great. Unfortunately, because of the poor cut of the suit, some of the high tech qualities were lost because the tight shoulder straps inhibited my movements in the breaststroke. The low cut back also allowed water to flow in and out of the suit during the breaststroke. This suit performed very well in 3 out of the 4 strokes and is definitely a great option for sprinters or long axis swimmers. The Velo is the biggest comeback suit among my reviews. Much like a negative split swimmer, the Velo started off at a mediocre pace and came out of nowhere with the closing speed. The Velo is a top-end competitor but needs a few slight adjustments in order to be the best.
Pros: good price-point among the group of suits; form-fitting and compression qualities that seemed to come to life after the suit was in the water. The suit completely surprised me and helped me to swim back, free and fly with a much more streamlined stroke.
Cons: sizing; the suit just didn’t feel like it was built for my body type, the measurements are a bit off in length and weight. These dimensions caused some drag that could possibly negate the suits great compression.
The Rocket Science FU2 Racer was by far the most challenging suit to put on in this whole suit review. Good thing this was the last suit I had to put on! It took me 15 minutes and the experience reminded me of the now-illegal suit days. The suit is rather hard to grip and pull on, because there aren’t any seams. On the flip side, that is a major positive because there isn’t any drag and it is a smooth-fitting suit. I believe the suit may not have been the right size for my height and weight stats; the legs of the suit were a little bit too short, and it sat too low on my butt, so I might have needed one size up. This made the suit a little too tight in the shoulders straps and around my quads. Once I got into the pool, I was able to properly adjust the suit and then it fit much better. All of the hard work putting on the suit in the locker room proved to be worth it once I got into the water.
The material of the FU2 Racer made of 82% Polyester/18% Elastane is reminiscent of some suits I tried 3-4 years ago that were super fast, like the Arena X-Glide. The suit is very water repellent and also had total body compression. The suit fits like a glove because the material is completely double lined and it doesn’t stretch easily. This combination is the reason for the overall compression you feel in the suit. The FU2 Racer only has 2 seams, one in the legs and one on the butt of the suit. They are well- bonded seams and I believe the suit will withstand several high-level competitions. Rocket Science thought a lot about the manufacturing of The FU2 Racer and that can be seen in details like the flex panel on the side of the suit. These flex panels live up to their name and give you the mobility needed in the water in contrast to the non-stretchy material that covers the rest of your body.
The FU2 Racer performed very well in the water, because it has all of the high-tech qualities I look for when choosing a racing suit. The checklist of compression, water resistance and comfort were all there. It was comfortable while swimming all four strokes, because the suit formed and molded to my body so well after getting in the pool. The total body compression made me feel very streamlined on my starts, turns and pullouts. The water beading off of the suit was seen after multiple uses, so I know that the spray Rocket Science used was of high quality. The FU2 Racer definitely requires some time manipulating the fit in and out of the pool, but it makes swimming fast seem easy and worth the extra time to put it on. Putting on the FU2 Racer ended up being time well spent, because of its performance in the water.
Pros: its details; the suit was well thought out with specifics like bonded seams and flex panels. The FU2 Racer also has all the necessary high tech qualities like overall compression, water resistance and durability.
Cons: amount of time and energy it takes to get the suit on. If the suit was the correct size, I don’t think the shoulder straps would have been too tight and I don’t think it would have been too low in the back. Sizing chart would have been helpful.
What tech suit do you use for competition and why? What are the most important things you look at when choosing a tech suit? Leave your comments below.
*Mark Gangloff and Julie Stupp will answer questions and comments from readers early next week.*
About Mark Gangloff
Mark Gangloff is a two-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist in the 4x100 meter medley relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He is the U.S. Open national record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke set in July 2009 in Indianapolis and attended Auburn University. He now works as an Assistant Swimming Coach at the University of Missouri. His large hand size is 8.5 inches from wrist to the top of his middle finger and 10.5 inches spread across from his thumb to pinkie.
About Julie Stupp
Julie Stupp is the first athlete in NCAA history to qualify for the NCAA's in both swimming and track & field. She first competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials as a 14-year-old in 2000 and made the final of the 400m IM at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. She is an IM and breaststroke specialist and competed for Auburn University from 2004-2007, where she was an 11-time All-American. She is now an assistant swimming coach at the University of Missouri.
NOTE: Please note that reviews are the opinions of Mark Gangloff and Julie Stupp -- not those of SwimOutlet.com. They are offered only as general information to customers. Size and fit are unique to each person’s body type and every swimmer has different suit needs. For specific questions about a tech suit, customers are encouraged to contact SwimOutlet.com customer service. For more information about “How to Choose a Men’s Tech Suit” go here and for info on "How to Choose a Women's Tech Suit" go here.Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: firstname.lastname@example.org duran
2 weeks ago.On the lady's side, my daughter wears a 26 in her competition swim suit. We are getting ready to purchase her first Arena Carbon Pro. How does the sizing compare? Thank youDan Waterman
2 months ago.Keep 'em coming. There's nothing on the web more helpful than unbiased peer reviews on products coupled with analytical feedback. Well done Mark and Julie.Anh.Hoang
2 months ago.Very useful! Thanks.Aida Davis
2 months ago.Hello, what do you think about the Jaked for women??
Thank you !!!Mary
3 months ago.This helped me sooooo much when I was deciding between a tech suit! I have never bought a tech suit before and this review really helped me to narrow now my options. I have always LOVED Swimoutlet and now I love it even more! Thanks!Mark Gangloff
2 months ago.Mary,
Julie and I had a great time working on this project. We are so happy it helped. Swim FAST!
2 months ago.Marcel -
Please see the link below to the Arena sizing chart for help with choosing the best fit.
3 months ago.Mark, what size did you order in the Arena Carbon Pro compared to the LZR Elite? I wear a 27 LZR and have always worn this suit. I have always loved it, but hear the new best suit is the Carbon Pro. So this year I ordered a 28 in the Carbon Pro, and could not fully get it on. I jumped directly to a 32, got it on, and it felt good... but is it supposed to be really far down? Like right above your kneecap? Also- Is it supposed to ride low at the waist or high at the waist? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Great Reviews! Thanks!Mark Gangloff
2 months ago.Gary,
If you wear a size 27 in the LZR and dont feel comfortable in the size 28 Carbon I would go with size 30. It seems like a jump up to size 32 is a little much. It should not go all the way to the knee caps and it does not ride that high. I hope this helps.
3 months ago.Thanks for all the valuable information on how to buy a high performance tech suit ( every suit has its pro & con). I would really like to buy one of the suits. I would like to know if I can put my triathlon trunks over the high tech suit for my 13 mile bike ride and then finish with a 3 mile run?
Thanks for the professional input. VioletSwimOutlet.com
3 months ago.VFit -
We would recommend you either do the whole race in the tri suit (http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=tri suit&checkRealSearchInput=Y) or, if you would like something to help you through the water quicker, you should look into a swimskin: http://www.swimoutlet.com/Swimskin_s/1190.htm.
These are made with high quality material and hold up well for triathletes. You still need to remove it prior to getting on the bike, but it's made to get out of easier than a tech suit.
TYT and Blueseventy make good swimskins: http://www.swimoutlet.com/Swimskin_s/1190.htm
Hope this helps!
3 months ago.Glad to hear it was helpful!!Michael
3 months ago.Hey Mark - what suit did you get in the Arena Carbon Pro compared to a Speedo LZR Elite or TYR AP12? I've worn all three - choosing to go 26 in LZR and 28 in TYR. This weekend I raced in an Arena, and found that a 26 was way too tight. I could barely bend over and my breaststroke kick was extremely limited.
Just wondering if you sized up for the Arena from your LZR size. Great reviews!Mark Gangloff
2 months ago.Michael,
Sorry it has taken me a few days to get back to you. I was coaching at the SEC Swimming & Diving Championships last week. The Speedo LZR Elite is more stretchy than both the Carbon and the AP 12. I would go for a size 28 in the Carbon if you use a size 28 in the AP12.
MarkAdd a Comment
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