As the sport of swim-run gains in popularity, so too does the desire to have the best of the best equipment on hand to potentially make the task of swimming and running (then swimming again) a little “easier”.
The sport of SwimRun has grown in numbers and events over the past few years with its original roots firmly established across Europe. The reason we mention Europe is that at most of these events, they come with a cold water swim. When the water is cold, you need a what? A Wetsuit of course! Not your everyday triathlon or scuba-diving-surfing wetsuit (these can still be used of course) but a highly specialised and specifically designed wetsuit for SwimRun events.
Why do you need a wetsuit for SwimRun events?
The water temperature is cold
The water temperature, more often than not, is cold. This requires the use of a specifically designed wetsuit. At some events, the use of a wetsuit will be considered compulsory so as to avoid the onset of hyperthermia. This can become a real possibility when the water dips below 16 degrees Celsius.
Wetsuits will give you some much needed additional buoyancy which will make the swim a little easier and faster. The “worse” off you are in the swim department, the more the wetsuit will be of benefit to you.
A wetsuit can be considered to be a “soft” safety device. Because of the (restricted) flotation benefits that the use of a wetsuit provides, it can double as a “life-jacket” to a certain extent. Have you ever tried to submerge yourself with a wetsuit on? It’s not the easiest thing to try and do.
If you are competing in conditions where the water and outside temperatures are cold, a specifically designed SwimRun wetsuit will protect you to a certain degree against these environmental elements
How is a swimrun wetsuit different to a normal wetsuit?
Most will come designed with a front zip instead of the traditional back zip we are accustomed from most triathlon wetsuit brands. You will need to get this suit on and off yourself – a front zipper will solve this issue. Perhaps not as aero streamed as the top end triathlon wetsuits who have their zips at the back, but not too far off either.
Most of these suits will come with short-cut legs. This makes sense as you need to be able to run in them in some instances. A full-length leg is not as effective as the half size one when it comes to the sport of SwimRun.
The top end swim-run wetsuits will come manufactured with built-in pockets (outer and inner) for storing items such as gels, energy bars and race course maps for example. This special design feature is something you will not find in a traditional triathlon wetsuit.
Certain models (such as the Zone3 Evolution) will allow for removable sleeves. This makes it easier (sleeveless) to swim in if the water is warmer but still allows for some form of extra protection (sleeves) should the water be considered cold.
Due to the nature of the sport, which involves climbing over rocks and running through shrubbery, certain key strategic areas on the wetsuit may be reinforced with a more durable neoprene. There is no sense in buying a wetsuit that is going to rip apart after just one event. These SwimRun wetsuits have to be more “hardened” than the traditional triathlon wetsuit.
With our Evolution wetsuit, we include a whistle, compass and 8mm calf sleeves as a standard feature. In the sport of SwimRun, these items are much-needed tools of the trade. The whistle and compass would ordinarily need to be carried along inside a dry bag or bum bag, but by including these two items in the manufacturing process, we have made them easier for you to carry and store in the wetsuit.
What are the key features that zone3 have brought to SwimRun?
- The Evolution comes with removable sleeves for warm water and cold water swim options.
- 3 pockets built into the design of the Evolution (1 big outer back pocket and 2 smaller inner pockets)
- 8mm Thick Neoprene Calf Sleeves come included with the Evolution, and are available to purchase separately also. These both aid the buoyancy of the swimmer during the swim legs (perhaps not as effective as a pull-buoys but not too far off either). They also provide for some extra warmth against the cold water elements as well as possibly preventing the onset of cramp in some instances. They are easy to remove for the run sections, and just as easy to put back on for the swim sections.
- A whistle and compass are included as standard items of the Evolution, and are also available to purchase separately.
- The use of durable but at the same time, highly flexible neoprene is a standard feature in both of the Zone3 SwimRun wetsuit models.
- The option for an entry-level SwimRun wetsuit. This year we released the Versa, a SwimRun wetsuit specifically designed for beginners to the sport, at a lower price point.
What to look for as a newbie to SwimRun?
Does the wetsuit feel comfortable when first trying it on?
We all differ in size and shape – some models just fit better than others. We suggest that you try on both models and see which one “feels” best for you.
Check the bank balance and buy a suit that fits the budget.
If it’s your first SwimRun event and you are on a tighter budget, the Versa has all the features of a SwimRun wetsuit that will enable you to give the event a good crack, plus the ability to purchase the accessories separately. If you intend on doing a few SwimRun races, we would suggest you go for the Evolution now – rather than upgrading at a later stage. What’s more, the Evolution comes with the accessories included!
Buy your wetsuit in the right season
Your body weight may see-saw during the year depending on the seasons. Generally speaking, we are the smallest in summer and gain a little weight in winter. It might be a good idea to buy the wetsuit at the start of summer and make sure it’s as tight as possible. A loose fitting wetsuit will fill up with water, which will negate the benefits of the buoyancy qualities.
Do some research
Do some of your own research online and ask your fellow, more experienced SwimRun athletes for advice as well. They might have some tips and pointers that would make the purchase of a specific model you may have been eyeing, a little easier to conclude.
Trust your instinct
If the impending purchase does not ”feel” right, look for something else and make sure you are 100% confident in what you are about to buy.
Lastly, Happy Wetsuit Hunting!
The purchase of a swim-run specific wetsuit is almost like buying a new bike. As we all know, you can never own enough bikes – it would seem the wetsuit purchase might not be too far away from this either.