It might be tricky to don, but a properly fitted tech suit will help you swim your
We get up early, work hard all season, put in the yardage, book our tickets, pay our meet fees, and schedule our “vacation” around swim meets. With varying degrees of confidence, we’re committed and we’re ready to go fast. When it comes time to put some serious cash down on a new technical suit, it almost feels like all that preparation hinges on the right suit choice at the checkout line.
Simply put: it kinda does! Making a great decision about a technical suit isn’t just about adding another zero to the sales total to ensure that extra tenth of a second drop. It’s all about fit, and it doesn’t have to break your budget.
All major companies have their own version of the greatest technical suit fabrics, which are woven polyester blended micro fiber. For those of us who’ve been around the deck for a few decades, the new tech suits feel a lot like the old paper suits. And there is a big similarity; the construction is very similar to the old paper suits, but the new fiber is much more advanced. The woven aspect of the suits allows it to be strong, yet very thin. The unique blend of materials combined with advanced hydrophobic coatings makes the fit and function of these new suits far superior to the paper suits of yore.
Today’s suits feature advanced adhesives and bonding agents instead of stitching. These materials improve the streamline of the suit and provide a snug yet comfortable fit. Bonded seams decrease the overall drag a suit produces and makes for a flatter and more conforming fit. The Speedo LZR Elite, TYR Tracer AP12, and Arena Carbon Pro Mark 2 all use bonded seams to improve fit and reduce drag. Bonded seams, however, make a suit more expensive.
Men’s Fitting Tips
For guys, it’s simple: you’re going to get a jammer: a suit that covers from the hips to just above the knees. Men’s tech suit fitting is simpler than for women; if you can get the suit on, then that’s probably a good fit. However, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind when shopping for a new tech suit:
Knees. If the suit touches your knees, then it’s too big. The bottom of the suit should ride just above your knees, at the bottom of your thighs. It should be snug without feeling like a sausage casing or like it’s cutting off circulation.
Silicone grippers. If your suit has little silicone grippers along the bottom inside of the legs (which help keep the suit legs from riding up), then you should flip those inside out as you’re putting the suit on. This will allow the suit to slide over the knee and onto the thigh more easily. Flip those seams back down to lock the leg in place.
Hips. If your, ahem, back crack is showing, it’s a little too small. Male tech suits are going longer up on the hips and belly, not shorter. The only rule of thumb is the suit must not go over and above the navel, so you’ll have some options on a high-waisted jammer if you prefer that fit. A high-waisted suit allows you to pack a little of your belly into the suit, giving you additional streamlining and connectivity through your torso. Regular tech suit jammers typically ride just above the hips.
Men’s tech suits should fit like a tight pair of socks, i.e., holding everything snugly without pinching, throughout the length of the suit.
CAUTION: Make sure you’ve got plenty of string exposed for tying the suit down after you get it on. A classic rookie mistake is to just throw the suit on without checking the string, only to find you’ve lost an end somewhere in the waistline.
Women’s Fitting Tips
Ladies, you’ve got some serious options and decisions to make when it comes to selecting the right tech suit. Ordering blindly online is a surefire recipe for frustration, but once you find your suit and know it fits, you can order future suits online.
Shoulders. This is the number one area of confusion and range of comfort for a suit that fits. There is no general rule of thumb for how comfortable you should be, but it may be helpful to start with the premise that all areas of the suit should be taut, but not necessarily tight.
If you can get the suit on completely and over the shoulders, then that suit is a candidate for you. You don’t have to sacrifice all flesh and feeling to have a good suit. The compression zones and construction pattern of today’s technical suits should provide a nice snug fit from shoulders down, and shouldn’t cut into you anywhere. The shoulders will be squeezing down, but you should feel just as much horizontal compression across the chest and torso as you feel down on your shoulders. Ask a friend to slide a couple fingers under the straps and lift up about 2 inches. If they can’t, that suit might be too small for you.
Torso. You should feel compression across the chest and belly but still be able to breathe normally. There should be no gaps on the chest letting water in the front or under the armpits. Water’s going to get in, but you don’t want to give it an easy path.
Knees. Just like with men’s suits, if the suit touches your knees, then it’s too big. Instead, seek a suit that rests just above your knees, at the bottom of your thighs, with a snug but not-too-tight fit.
Silicone grippers. Again, just like with men’s suits, if your suit has little silicone grippers along the bottom inside of the legs flip them inside out to make pulling the suit into position easier. Flip the seams back into place once you’ve seated the leg properly.
Show Me the Goods!
The Swim Team Store has a full range of all technical suits and any accessory or swim product you’re interested in.
Please review our tech suit collection and come visit us at Spring Nationals in Santa Clara. We’ll get you fitted and make it easy for you to shop online after you find your perfect fit.
Nothing will replace hard work and the technique you’re perfecting every day, but technical suits allow you to maximize your efforts when they’re fitted correctly. We’d love to help you find the right suit and drop some time!
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