WARMWATER SPEED

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - SWIM BIKE RUN TRANSITION -

IT WAS 11 years ago that the first swim­skin hit the triathlon world – Nor­mann Stadler wore one of Blue Seventy’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary new suits and came out of the wa­ter min­utes closer to his com­pe­ti­tion than nor­mal. There were shocked looks on the faces of the lead men’s group as the Ger­man su­per-cy­clist went fly­ing by in the first few kilo­me­tres of the bike. In 2004, Stadler’s first Kona win, he came out of the wa­ter over three min­utes be­hind ri­val Chris Mccormack. Two years later, wear­ing a swim­skin, the Ger­man was 14 sec­onds be­hind his Aus­tralian ri­val.

Need­less to say, swim­skins have be­come stan­dard equip­ment for Kona com­peti­tors as they clam­our for ev­ery ad­van­tage they can get at the world cham­pi­onship. Worn over a tri suit, swim­skins help you slip through the wa­ter. They’re not as fast as a full-fledged neo­prene wet­suit would be, but, as Stadler’s per­for­mance all those years ago proved, they can im­prove your over­all time in the wa­ter by quite a bit.

Huub’s lat­est en­try into this mar­ket is the Al­ba­core Swim­skin, which is de­signed to help you go faster thanks to its hy­dro­dy­namic prop­er­ties and by im­prov­ing your stroke ef­fi­ciency. A spe­cial high com­pres­sion (read, snug-fit­ting) and hy­dropho­bic fab­ric that Huub refers to as a “Con­stric­tor sys­tem” puts you in a bet­ter po­si­tion in the wa­ter. Ac­cord­ing to their tests the suit can make you up to 4.5 sec­onds faster per 100 m. While we weren’t able to quan­tify the re­sults to that sort of ac­cu­racy, our re­viewer was no­tice­ably faster wear­ing the suit.

The fab­ric of the suit feels like a high-end com­pet­i­tive swim­suit and it fits very much like a com­pet­i­tive swim­suit might – to­wards the smaller end of the fit­ting scale. That’s all part of the de­sign, though, as the com­pres­sion doesn’t just help cre­ate a smaller foot­print in the wa­ter, it’s de­signed to im­prove your biome­chan­ics, too.

The end re­sult is a very fast suit that’s sur­pris­ingly easy to get off in tran­si­tion – you sim­ply un­lock the zip­per and pull the suit open and it comes off in a flash, set­ting you up for a quick change onto the bike.

Since most of your com­pe­ti­tion will also have their own swim­skins, you’re likely not go­ing to see a three-minute gain over the com­pe­ti­tion, but you’ll def­i­nitely gain some ground af­ter the first leg of the race.—km

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