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Swimmers: Should You Use A Speedsuit? Which Speedsuits Are Best For Triathlons?

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By Jim P.

runners-in-training-wearing-speedsuits-by-reflexblue.gif A speedsuit is a thin outer garment you wear in non-wet suit races that provides some hydrodynamic advantage over traditional triathlon racing suits.

They are awesome for warm water races because they really slip through the water. Wetsuits are faster overall due to their superior hydrodynamic and buoyancy and should always be used when the rules permit — if you want to be as quick as possible.

You would only opt for the speedsuit if wetsuits were not allowed.

There is a mixed opinion about allowing speedsuits in triathlon events.


Pros & Cons Of Speedsuits

Those against using speedsuits in triathlons feel that they give an unfair advantage to affluent triathletes who can afford such high-tech gear. They say that permitting speedsuits means that a triathlete can “buy speed.”

There are some who object to “new toys” being added to the sport, and say it should be about what you can achieve, not how much money you spend. Some triathlon purists feel like speedsuits give an undeserved advantage to inferior swimmers, and diminishes the achievements of those who perform without them.

Proponents of speedsuits say that triathlon is a great sport for innovation and embracing new technology, and apparel enhancements (like speedsuits) should be allowed. They say that although slightly quicker it’s not going to stop a good swimmer beating a poor swimmer in a speedsuit.

Proponents also point out that enhancements like aerobars and aerowheels are also expensive and aren’t ruled out on the basis of cost. They say it’s impossible to level the triathlon playing field when it comes to the economics of the sport. A top-end tri bike is simply going to out-perform a lesser bike. That’s just the way it is.











Best Speedsuits

Let’s say you are in the pro-speedsuit camp and want to get one.

What are the options?

What follows are the top speedsuits.

Some are unisex, others have a men’s and women’s style.


Pearl Izumi Elite Speed Suit

  • not a true speedsuit but a hybrid between a speedsuit and a one-piece tri suit
  • a fairly hydrodynamic suit that can be worn all day
  • fits more comfortably than most speedsuits
  • designed to accommodate lower-body movements of the triathlon run and bike


Aquaman Insulator Speedsuit

  • superior materials: Yamamoto rubber and SCS coating
  • tight-fitting suit


Nineteen Frequency Speedskin

  • wingspan technology, which offers comfortable upper back flexibility
  • seamless construction from top to bottom, which provides an even stretch
  • high on comfort


BlueSeventy PointZero3 Swimskin

  • the only suit used at 3 different Olympic venues (triathlon, open-water swimming and swimming)
  • almost-zero-drag suit covers the entire leg
  • the choice of nearly half the field in Kona, and with good reason
  • offers 10 total sizes (six for men, four for women)
  • save $50 if you decide you don’t need the full-leg version


Xterra Velocity

  • Hawaiian age-grouper Jon Flanagan used the Velocity for a 47:02 swim in Kona
  • Xterra covers 100% of the Velocity in nano SCS coating, the speedsuit equivalent of coating something in platinum
  • the coating actually creates a thin layer of air between the suit and water, helping you slide through the surf undisturbed
  • save $100 on knee-length version


Profile Design Mako Speed Suit

  • thigh-length inseam means this suit comes off easily, making for a speedy transition
  • uses Yamamoto SCS rubber to achieve neutral buoyancy


2XU Kona Fusion Speedsuit

  • no seams: the front and rear panels are “fused” together, offering an even stretch and knocking off more drag
  • 2XU has enough sizes to fit waists ranging from 25 to 45 inches


Maystorm SA 1 Swimskin

  • most affordable speedsuit on the market
  • the SA 1 keeps the stitching off the front of the suit, providing uniform flexibility
  • suit fits extremely tight


Orca RS1 Aero Tri Suit

  • best suit in terms of appearance
  • the RS1 Aero is a hybrid suit that can be worn all day long
  • use of AeroSkn fabric, a hydrodynamic (for the swim), aerodynamic (for the bike) and breathable (for the run)
  • ideal for short-course, non-wetsuit races


Zoot SpeedZoot

  • 20-inch inseam, which provides better water resistance than a shorter inseam
  • easy to remove
  • capri-length fit
  • SCS coating on the outside to keep things slippery and nylon on the inside to keep water out
  • tiny mesh panels that run on the front, back and legs and provide a second skin-like fit


De Soto Liftfoil Tri Speedsuit

  • a speedsuit that is also a trisuit
  • new “Ultra Thin Buoyant” tri-pad offers floatation during the swim, padding on the bike and is unnoticeable on the run
  • made of De Soto’s “Liftfoil” Skin fabric
  • no pockets and no lining
  • has a 16-inch front zipper that offers less drag than speedsuits with zippers in back
  • Hydrolinear seamlines hug your body while allowing for maximum reach and glide in your stroke


Be sure and leave a comment if you have experience with one of these speedsuits or would recommend one that isn’t listed. Thanks!