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When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster?
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Help me settle a debate. I've been going back and forth with two guys who claim that above 62 degrees there is no benefit of a full sleeved wetsuit. It shouldn't bother me, but it's driving me crazy!
I've always thought that a full wetsuit is always faster. Am I way off base?

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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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Mallen4574 wrote:
Help me settle a debate. I've been going back and forth with two guys who claim that above 62 degrees there is no benefit of a full sleeved wetsuit. It shouldn't bother me, but it's driving me crazy!
I've always thought that a full wetsuit is always faster. Am I way off base?
You're right. More buoyancy in a full sleeve.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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I would say a full is always faster. There are some advantages to a sleeveless - better range of motion and less strain on the shoulders, it's cooler for swims closer to wetsuit water temp limits and it's easier to get on and off.

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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [GMAN 19030] [ In reply to ]
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GMAN 19030 wrote:
I would say a full is always faster. There are some advantages to a sleeveless - better range of motion and less strain on the shoulders, it's cooler for swims closer to wetsuit water temp limits and it's easier to get on and off.

And for some of us: It's cheaper.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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its faster.

most likely they dont have full sleeve, so in that circumstance, sleeveless is faster.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Cervelo Apple] [ In reply to ]
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They have both. They claim the better feel for the water during their catch and pull is what makes it faster.

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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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While I think you friends' 62 degree threshold is quite low, if you've ever swam a race in 72-ish degree water with a full sleeve wetsuit, you might think a sleeveless is faster... cuz it gets HOT in a full sleeve. Or, maybe (unlike me) you're a very efficient swimmer and spend more time propelling yourself through the water instead of thrashing in it... then, a full sleeve wetsuit might not feel so hot in 72-ish degree water.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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Read this thread, especially Monty's posts.

Proud member of FISHTWITCH: doing a bit more than fish exercise now.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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Well I tend to like my sleeveless in the warmer water.

Just wore my Cat 5 Sleeveless last weekend and had a great swim.

The advantages I see with the sleeveless:
-- Faster removal
-- More arm freedom (not that I feel restricted in my full sleeve version) but there is less
-- Better position - I find in the sleeveless my legs are elevated even more to the point where I notice less leg drag.
-- Cooler in warmer water - Water was 75 degrees for the race and I would have sweating my balls off in a full sleeve to the point of overheating dehydrating... Having extra skin surface to cool helps.

The advantages I see of a full sleeve:
-- Warmer
-- Maybe helps a tiny bit with drag and catch. To me this seemed to be negated by the body position improvements for me in the sleeveless.

I was VERY surprised how fast the Cat 5 Sleeveless was. I thought about drag on my arms, less neoprene, worse body, but it was the opposite.

Now I get the trial and error of deciding the cut off... My guess is somewhere around 70 degrees and below will be full-sleeve and above sleeveless until non-wetsuit legal.

I think for a lot of swimmers, the sleeveless will reduce leg drag and hence negate the lack of neoprene in the sleeves, catch panels, etc. Definitely as the water gets warmer, sleeveless starts getting a huge advantage with cooling, just as if I went in a sleeveless in 62 degree water I might be slower from the cold.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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On the run.

For swimming (assuming you have a modern, reasonably flexible tri wetsuit) full sleeve is faster, period.


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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Titanflexr] [ In reply to ]
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Titanflexr wrote:
On the run.

For swimming (assuming you have a modern, reasonably flexible tri wetsuit) full sleeve is faster, period.



It might be faster to 90-95% of the swimmers, but to some of us, just because it floats more doesn't mean it is faster. To call it faster we have to use a very simple measurement, time. For me, full suit equals 45 seconds slower than sleeveless over the same 1.2 miles distance, on the same course at the same HR avg. Shoulder rotation is a huge issue is you are a good swimmer. And I hate to disagree with Monty, but if you "feel" faster, you are faster. That's the main reason why swimmers shave their legs, arms, chest to begin with.

Cheers!

Carlos
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After 3 years, time to go long again. IM Canada 2013
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Sandbagging] [ In reply to ]
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So you are comparing open water swims to each other, a year apart? Well, I suppose if you do that then you deserve whatever results come. Your "if I feel faster, I am faster," is silly. I do not feel a bit different when I put on my race wheels, skinsuit, and aero helmet. 250 watts still feels like 250 watts, but I am sure as heck moving down the road more quickly. My run intervals feel the same every time, but some days they are sure faster than others.
Your n=1 experience does not float. :)
Chad
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [cdw] [ In reply to ]
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cdw wrote:
So you are comparing open water swims to each other, a year apart? Well, I suppose if you do that then you deserve whatever results come. Your "if I feel faster, I am faster," is silly. I do not feel a bit different when I put on my race wheels, skinsuit, and aero helmet. 250 watts still feels like 250 watts, but I am sure as heck moving down the road more quickly. My run intervals feel the same every time, but some days they are sure faster than others.
Your n=1 experience does not float. :)
Chad

Hey Chad, I am comparing OWS same year, same month, same week, same day, 2 hours apart. That's called testing..

On the water, I stand for what I said, if you feel faster you are faster. Bike and run? Who cares! ;o)

Cheers!

Carlos
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After 3 years, time to go long again. IM Canada 2013
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Sandbagging] [ In reply to ]
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Uhh, I think it is a bit of a stretch to call two attempts testing, especially when you have no idea about current and other factors. Not that you could not test, but that is not how I would go about it. Desert dude did test suits and has done it on multiple occasions in much more controlled environment. I do not recall him ever saying a sleeveless was faster. As such, I doubt a sleeveless is really even faster for you. It sounds like you need to get a nice modern suit and adapt to it until you match the rest of the population.
Chad
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [cdw] [ In reply to ]
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cdw wrote:
It sounds like you need to get a nice modern suit and adapt to it until you match the rest of the population.
Chad





Tim
Last edited by: twinracer2: Jul 29, 11 13:00
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [cdw] [ In reply to ]
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You got a point on trying a different wetsuit. I have a Helix, which is supposed to be a great one, but maybe it's just to the best for me. My shoulders are still very constrained on it. That's why when I use my Axis LJ I feel much better and able to keep a better technique, therefore being faster.

Cheers!

Carlos
-----------------------------------------------------------
After 3 years, time to go long again. IM Canada 2013
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Sandbagging] [ In reply to ]
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Sandbagging wrote:
Hey Chad, I am comparing OWS same year, same month, same week, same day, 2 hours apart. That's called testing..

On the water, I stand for what I said, if you feel faster you are faster. Bike and run? Who cares! ;o)

Cheers!

Actually, if you ARE faster, you are faster. That should be obvious. Feel is all but useless. Now, in your example you may have been faster, but you only spoke of feel.

All this said, there's a girl on my team who doesn't gain much at all from a wetsuit. There's another fantastic swimmer who does gain from a full wetsuit. Then there's me, who's decent for having less than 18 months of swim training, but I gain a ton from it (though less than last summer). Oddly, I get slower with a pull buoy and paddles...

Aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines. -Enzo Ferrari
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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A sleeveless wetsuit can be faster than a full-sleeve if the full-sleeve doesn't fit right (too big, too small, completely inappropriate for your body shape) or is worn incorrectly.

For reasons stated, as well as that adding even a few millimeters on either sides of an oar (your arm) is going to get you through the water faster.

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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [TriAya] [ In reply to ]
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Just to stir the pot...

Here is what I am thinking. The additional buoyancy of the full sleeve vs sleeveless has to be 10% or less. I suppose we could cut up a suit and weight it, but going with the old Rule of 9 for estimating burn percentage on surface area each arm is about 4.5% of your body. So 9%... well your head is also about 4.5% and hands and feet - so I think a 10% suit surface area is a good estimate for this exercise - but I would guess the actual difference in a full vs sleeveless is closer to 6-8%.


Now, durring a stroke your arm is out of the water about 50% of the time giving you only about half the additional buoyancy at any given time .


I suppose you could have some sort of buoyancy resistance throughout the catch phase as you push your arm deeper into the water.


Given my assumptions are correct, and they seem logical to me, combined with things like comfort and mobility it is completely reasonable to see how a sleeveless can be faster under some conditions.


It is probably a lot like the bike fit not being only about aero if it compromises metabolism.




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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Sandbagging] [ In reply to ]
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It was just an idea. As humans we are all not really that different. If you find you are not benefitting from something the way everyone else is then it may be worth it to find out why. You may find in the end that YOU swim faster in a sleeveless, for whatever reason, but if so you are giving up speed to others. Personally, I would guess the greatest speed loss come from the shoulder holes letting in water and creating drag. No matter how good your fit is in a sleeveless, it is not as tightly sealed as a good fitting suit with arms.
Chad
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Mallen4574] [ In reply to ]
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On paper a full sleeve suit is always faster. More neoprene= more buoyancy+slicker scs coating= lower drag coefficient.

But honestly you could swim the exact same swim in both suits, with the same effort and chances are you won't find which is faster.

Feel to some is very important. You get that without sleeves. You also get an unrestricted shoulder. With that comes colder arms and possibly more under arm or neck chaffing due to the movement of the suit.

Warmth and less drag is more important to others. You get that with sleeves. Technically speaking this will always be a faster suit. In a drafting situation the extra buoyancy may help you slow and length your stroke while lowering your drag and making you more streamline in the draft.

What fits you the best and feels comfortable to you will be the fastest suit for you. I say it in that order as fit is the #1 issue with a swimming wetsuit. You try a wetsuit on dry, and it should fit borderline uncomfortable while not restricting breathing or range of motion. When you get it wet it will loosen up. Obvious stuff.

What suit do you prefer? Have you found a sleeveless suit that fits you perfectly and tried it in the water? Does it feel better with your shoulders free? Have you found a full sleeve suit that fits perfectly and tried it in the water? Does it feel faster?

Don't change up something that has been working for you because of 62 degree water. You have to get your face, hands, and feet wet. Chances are that your arms will warm up seeing as how you are moving those more than anything else.

All this being said, I don't think there will ever be a consensus one way or another without a lot of testing. Fit, feel, range of motion, flexibility, drag, water conditions, your strength as a swimmer... Just a few things that may effect your which is faster on that given day.

jake

Get outside!
Last edited by: jakers: Jul 29, 11 16:36
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [jakers] [ In reply to ]
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jakers wrote:
On paper a full sleeve suit is always faster. More neoprene= more buoyancy+slicker scs coating= lower drag coefficient.

I've heard this several times and I wonder about that extra buoyancy from the sleeves. During the entry and catch phase, your arm is mostly horizontal. After the catch, your bottom arm reaches and pulls and benefits from finding deeper, more dense water. Added buoyancy on this arm seems counter productive during this most propulsive portion of the stroke. At the same instant, the top arm is out of the water in its recovery phase. It seems that added buoyancy at this point is moot.

Exactly when during the stroke does the additional buoyancy from the arms benefit the swim?






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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Tri-Banter] [ In reply to ]
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Tri-Banter wrote:
jakers wrote:
On paper a full sleeve suit is always faster. More neoprene= more buoyancy+slicker scs coating= lower drag coefficient.


...At the same instant, the top arm is out of the water in its recovery phase.

...It seems that added buoyancy at this point is moot.

Exactly when during the stroke does the additional buoyancy from the arms benefit the swim?

First, "on paper" doesn't mean that it translates to actual performance.

Also, when do you have better glide? With a full sleeve wetsuit? or in the pool with no wetsuit? Personally I feel a much greater glide while "my top arm is out of the water in its recovery phase" with a wetsuit on. Granted this will be helped by the thick panel down the front of the suit, but the 1-2mm thick sleeve will also help to keep you planed out during the "recovery phase".

Keeping in mind that your stroke goes underwater, this thin sleeve will not create drag or slow your arm speed without benefit. A larger surface area pulls more water. Now you can say that the SCS coating negates this, but in comes the catch panel breaking up the water and helping you to have a much greater pull.

For the most part you are correct, this extra buoyancy isn't going to put you in the olympics, but it also is not enough to hinder your stroke rather it is just enough to help you lengthen your stroke and aid your pull.

This will vary from person to person, but again, this is how it should work.

Reference: USAT message on June 21st 2010

"...The adoption of this rule is designed to eliminate any competitive advantage gained by enhancements in wetsuit technology in recent years. Studies have shown there is a marked and measurable performance benefit to the use of certain wetsuits, specifically added buoyancy effectively reducing passive drag. These performance benefits have led to an increased, and artificially induced, reduction in physical demand required during the swim leg of a triathlon and an increase in speed."


From Desoto Water Rover:

"...
  • 8mm: Found only on the arms from the triceps to the wrists. This thickness creates a larger surface area with which to push water. The thick arms also create an additional level of surface buoyancy during the reach and glide phase of the swim stroke..."

So is the point moot? No. It is designed to be a performance enhancing feature on the wetsuit. Definitely separating a full sleeve and sleeveless.

jake




Get outside!
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Tri-Banter] [ In reply to ]
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Tri-Banter wrote:
jakers wrote:
On paper a full sleeve suit is always faster. More neoprene= more buoyancy+slicker scs coating= lower drag coefficient.


I've heard this several times and I wonder about that extra buoyancy from the sleeves. During the entry and catch phase, your arm is mostly horizontal. After the catch, your bottom arm reaches and pulls and benefits from finding deeper, more dense water. Added buoyancy on this arm seems counter productive during this most propulsive portion of the stroke. At the same instant, the top arm is out of the water in its recovery phase. It seems that added buoyancy at this point is moot.

Exactly when during the stroke does the additional buoyancy from the arms benefit the swim?

early vertical forearm = much more surface area with wetsuit sleeves.

theres really no argument here. sleeves is always faster unless you pick an ill fitting suit.
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Re: When is a sleeveless wetsuit faster? [Tri-Banter] [ In reply to ]
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Tri-Banter wrote:

I've heard this several times and I wonder about that extra buoyancy from the sleeves. During the entry and catch phase, your arm is mostly horizontal. After the catch, your bottom arm reaches and pulls and benefits from finding deeper, more dense water. Added buoyancy on this arm seems counter productive during this most propulsive portion of the stroke. At the same instant, the top arm is out of the water in its recovery phase. It seems that added buoyancy at this point is moot.


(Emphasis added by me)
The water isn't any denser at an arms length (ok, it is, but it's fractions of grammes per tonne).
The added buoyancy during the recovery is actually worse than being moot. Your total mass is increased by the sleeves but they are not displacing any water, so during the recovery the sleeves serve to reduce buoyancy. If the sleeves had a density of 0.5 and the arms were out of the water for 50% of the stroke then sleeves would indeed have no net effect on buoyancy. However the arms are out of the water for way less than 50% of the time, and I suspect the density of the neoprene is less than 0.5 (perhaps Fleck or someone can confirm), so the sleeves still have a worthwhile buoyancy benefit.
Last edited by: BigBloke: Jul 31, 11 10:52
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