With the season starting soon, we thought we'd get to some more of the equipment part of swimming. We've answered a lot of questions on speedsuits, mostly locally at the bike shop, etc, but forums have even more questions. Essentially it goes like this "Should/shouldn't I get a speedsuit?" or "Is speedsuit A/B/C better than speedsuit D/E/F?" So, we'll give our answers and yeah they will be a bit biased towards the end.
Truthfully, you don't NEED a lot of the equipment that you have for a race, but most of it does help make things 'easier' and make you faster. There, said it!
You should wear a speedsuit if a) wetsuits are not allowed 2) you want to wear your 2 piece tri-kit or 1 piece with pockets during the swim. You do not need a speedsuit if 1) your budget does not allow the purchase b) you are going to swim in shorts only or shorts/bratop or swimsuit only 3) the swim is wetsuit legal d) you swim in an ITU style onezie. That is the shortest summary we could come up with on when speedsuits are 'needed'.
The how-to of a speedsuit. It goes OVER your tri-kit. You generally remove it before you start the bike leg of the race though there have been more than a few athletes, pros included, who forgot to remove them after the swim. You can ride in them, but most people do not. For a sprint or Olympic I might wear just my speedsuit if I didn't have an ITU style tri-kit. If I did that, I might wear a speedo or tri-shorts under the speedsuit for extra coverage.They need to be TIGHT, almost uncomfortably so. The purpose here is to reduce drag in the water so the suit needs to be tight to cover up the wrinkles, pockets, or gaps in your tri kit. It is also for convenience.
Which model of speedsuit? Up to you based on your budget. You'll likely get almost the same benefit out of the 2nd tier model as the top of the line. In the Roka suits that would be the Viper Elite. But if you're counting seconds (aren't we all) the top of the line Viper Pro will erase doubt. Men's suits are linked. Sizing? Our experience has been to go 1 size up if wearing over a kit. If you head over to the Roka website, use 'ROKA-Team-Marsh' at check out for a 10% discount!!