Had a lot of suits to pick from but since I have a good relationship with our local 2XU rep, two of my favorite local shops carry 2XU and i love my current 2XU race suit I figured, well lets review 2XU's new fusion welded speed suit. It also helped that I have about three days to our print deadline and I could just pick this suit up down the street.
I'm 5'10" and weigh about 155lb so I ended up in a size small. Suit fit really nicely, compressive and supportive but not cutting off circulation anywhere and nice and stretchy so it fits nicely over the traps but isn't restrictive at all.
The width of the shoulder straps and subsequently the cut as the suit transitions down to under the arms is a bit slimmer than I expected but it still worked extremely well. Still no water entry on the chest (okay a bit of water entry but not enough to mention) and it leaves the bottom of the arm opening extremely open so no chance of chafing.
Back zip was a bit tough and I couldn't do it myself but the zipper seems soundly reinforced and there is no binding of your arm extension and reach. Custom zipper pull is way way way better than some other zipper pulls I've used. It has a nice cam action and is locked in the down position and open in the up. Should pretty much elliminate the zipper pull down I had on more than one occasion while swimming in my aquashift suit. I would however like a hole in the zipper pull so I can string a 6" or so string through it to help pull the zipper down when getting out of the suit. I guess you might really not need this as the zipper seems to pop open when released pretty well but juuuust in case it got stuck...
Leg openings were very nice and applied even pressure and the only reason I mention this is that I've worn a few other suits which seemed like a tournaquet on my bigger than typical swimmer quads. The suits wide silicone grippers (kinda neat, guess they're laminated on) worked well and I didn't loose circulation like my old suit. Not sure how they'd do on skinnier legs though as they weren't super tight on me and i have fairly large quads...
Overall fit was very nice. The seams are all either welded or stitched with welding over the stitching so you have no stiched areas on your skind and all seams are flat and don't bind. Didn't think of it in the pool but the neck opening was very comfortable and the chest panel while tight was much less restrictive than other suits I've worn in the past and I could almost see wearing this suit for the full duration of a cool weather sprint tri.
Okay so the swim test. This is NOT a scientific test. I repeat, this is NOT a scientific test in any way and I am not a scientific testing device. I'm not all that in shape yet but I think that I was able to pull off a pretty consistant effort and was actually surprised a bit by the results. Should also mention that I did this workout fairly smashed as yesterday was a killer ride up 10,000 feet to the summit and of Haleakala on Maui (awesome!!!) but I still think the test went pretty well. Details below.
-did the test in a 100m long course pool thinking that minimizing push offs would probably minimize the time differences in 100s
-planned to swim with a partner in the lane next to me as she's perfect and exactly the same pace as me, possibly a second faster per hundred but she'd keep me honest through the test
-we both did a 1100m warm up with some faster stuff in there to get stretched out nicely
-after the warm up we did 4x100 descending two times through with a 2min or so break in between for me to dry off a bit and suit up (did the first set in a pair of tri shorts, tri dork in the pool alert!!!, and the second set in the suit)
-tried to keep my breathing pattern identical for the two sets as when the pace picks up I switch from bilateral to breathing every stroke
-did the 100s on a 1:40 send off as I'm not quite down to the 1:30 yet and figured if we pushed it it would be pretty hard to keep the stroke consistant.
-first time through I swam times of 1:26, than 1:26, than 1:22 and then cranked it down to 1:19. My partner was consistantly about 1sec or less ahead of me. Basically I was finishing on her hip or her feet for each 100
-two minute or so break, dried off a bit, got the suit, got help zipping it up and jumped back in. After the first set I was actually feeling a bit tired and started to worry that the second set might possibly be SLOWER... damn totally not the result I was hoping for.
-first 100 of the second set, man the suit felt weird for the first 20seconds or so, felt like i was higher in the water and lost a bit of sensation of my hip movement as I couldn't feel the water as much through the suit. Some water moving around in the chest and a touch entering down my lower back on flip turns (less than my wetsuit though) and my reach felt absolutely the same. I went 1:24 and finished about a second in front of my partner, possibly 2 second improvement from sans suit
-next 100 was again 1:24 on a moderate pace and about 1-2 seconds in front of my partner, again an impressive 2 second difference on what felt like the same effort level
-picked it up a bit to try and replicate #3 from the first set, not all out but a bit harder and breathing every stroke for the second 50. Ended up going 1:19 and finishing about 2 seconds up on my partner!
-last 100 was kind of a wash as we were both fed up with our times (she's a former collegiate swimmer) and said we'd go 1:15 or bust but than again #4 on the first set was all out as well and that was only a 1:19 for me, a 1:18 for her. Cranked it up and wow a 1:15 and I stayed dead even with her even though I was pretty sure she'd drop me. Big time improvement but again on this one it would be hard to really quantify whether it was the suit or the extra push.
Conclusions: Well for not being very scientific the test sure seemed to lean towards the suit being pretty damn fast. I might possibly be have been a bit more warmed up for the second set but I was definitely a bit tired for the second set and still saw the times drop. Second my partner who was my benchmark went from being a second in front of me to a second behind me... Based on the 2-3 second savings I saw that might mean up to 30-40 seconds in a 1500m swim or more in an olympic. Subtract the 5-7 seconds to take off the suit and you're still saving mid 20s and up seconds wise, which while not as much as an aero wheel set will save you is pretty impressive and is about 150+ meters in a quicker 10K run. Worth the $300 retail? I'm not sure. If you have every other trick in the book covered, you've got the $300 to burn and do a lot of non wetsuit swims (or just want to be the hammer of the local pool) I can't really see why you wouldn't want one of these suits. If you're on a budget, throw in some extra workouts, pick your race suit smartly (tight, no loose pockets) and you'll probably come out even. But in a sport where money can buy speed, these suits, or this one at least sure seem like a legal way to improve that PR.