Wetsuit review by Steve Crowley, Team GB Para Triathlete, Olympic Distance
I started out my triathlon career like most people do with an entry level wetsuit: it was fairly poorly fitting with no technology, just a standard 5mm of normal neoprene all over. It had its fair amount of use and was used for racing and training. As my triathlon career started to move forward I managed to get some sponsorship and support from a well known British wetsuit brand.
The difference between my old suit and my first foray into the high level premium wetsuit was like night and day. The major noticeable difference was the quality and flexibility of the high end neoprene. The technology has evolved so quickly, and with so many advances I was soon using a suit with 1.5mm neoprene around the shoulders and arms. That was my first experience of a suit that offered minimal resistance and a feeling as close to non a wetsuit swim as I had ever felt.
The biggest mistake I feel that you can make with a wetsuit is the simple act of not taking your time when putting one on. The key is to make sure it’s comfortable and unrestrictive before you get in the water. Pulling it around between your shoulders prior to zipping it up and then practicing your stroke on the land to ensure that there is no resistance will ensure a smooth and efficient swim.
So onto the Deboer Fjord 1.0….
Straight out of the box It’s like no other suit in appearance. The quality is instantly apparent. It has some impressive looking technology to the arms and shoulder neoprene, which is so thin, and the Whaleskin neoprene is an absolute first for me.
I couldn’t wait to try it out in the water. My only swim option at the time was a sea swim, though it was a fairly cold day and the sea was pretty rough! It was a bit of a battle of a swim and by the end of the swim I felt slightly underwhelmed by the suit. Not to mention a little bit cold. I’d had high expectations, but you can’t choose the weather. My luck had continued to be poor when it came to my swim timings and I couldn’t seem to catch the right conditions to really test it out.
I’d always adapted to a new suit fairly quickly, but with this one it seemed to be taking a little bit of time. As mentioned the conditions were definitely not helping matters and a little bit of frustration was starting to creep in. After the third or fourth attempt I pretty much had the eureka moment: perfect conditions, a good fast group to swim with and things just seemed to click in place.
For me (I swim better wetsuit vs non wetsuit) instantly noticeable was my body position in the water - it was spot on. There is the right amount of buoyancy, especially around the legs to give them enough lift and minimize any drag. I’m not much of a leg kicker so the lift is a massive help.
The real shock came when I looked at my watch on the far turning buoy nearly 1800m into the swim. It wasn’t just the average speed that was a shock, it was also how smooth and controlled it had been. I hadn’t thought about anything else except keeping things relaxed, and by the end of the session I had clocked up just under 4kms with an impressive average pace, yet got out feeling like it had been an easy aerobic swim. The biggest take home from this was the range of movement and lack of resistance in the shoulders that the suit had provided, this had allowed me to keep it relaxed and to concentrate on my stroke without any fatigue setting in.
This is the first wetsuit I’ve used where it’s taken me a little while to understand it. This could have been partly down to the conditions, or possibly because it’s so different to anything else out there. But it is definitely a joy to wear, I’ve never swam in a suit that gives me such a feeling of freedom and movement.
I did find it a little cold on the longer more aerobic swims, but this was swimming in the British sea - I think it would be fine for a race pace, duration in the water. I’d be interested to see the difference between the Fjord and Floh when it comes to water temperature.
Neuff Red says:
Thanks for the review Steve! You might be interested to hear that deboer has just announced the launch of their new Ocean 1.0 wetsuit, insulated for cold water. Review of their warmest performance wetsuit to follow.