Test and compare wetsuits with Roslyn McGinty

Test and compare wetsuits with Roslyn McGinty

Unless you are a sponsored athlete it is likely you spend a lot of your personal time and money finding the best kit for your racing. And if you are forking out large sums of cash for a piece of kit that promises that you will ‘ go faster’ it is natural that you want to know it works!

Since having her INCUS|NOVA Roz McGinty has been testing her kit choices to make sure she is using the running shoes and wetsuits that support her technique and form and that will ultimately make her faster on race day. 

“My new wetsuit was extremely expensive and as the company claims to produce the world’s fastest and most comfortable wetsuits, I wanted to prove it myself by comparing it with other suits I have,” Roz begins. Testing wetsuits, particularly in a warm indoor pool, is an arduous task, “ it takes quite a bit of time to test. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get out of one wetsuit into a new one! Each wetsuit is taking 15 minutes to change.”

Using her NOVA Roz is able to get some comparable data that will help her make the best choice of what to wear on race day. “Without the Nova I’d just test using time and perceived effort –  but that way you aren’t getting any measure of  efficiency and no metrics to show what might have made the difference. Comparing Swim Economy against time is a key way of showing whether the suits are genuinely faster.”

It’s hard to create a constant control in the pool but Roz is still able to see patterns in her data, “ it is interesting. I’m looking at everything; time taken, perceived effort, heart rate, rotation, pitch and swim economy. Pitch is influenced significantly by the flotation of your wetsuit so I’m comparing it across different suits.”

Liam Walton, who is the biomechanist and sport scientist who leads the testing and validation program for INCUS shares some of his tips on how you can do some home testing to satisfy your own curiosity.

“Buoyancy is a really useful component of wet suits, they aren’t just about staying warm. The extra flotation they provide helps counteract the tendency of our legs and hips to sink which creates drag and slows us down. When comparing wetsuits, the two metrics to look at are pitch and swim economy. Is the wetsuit helping with your sinking legs and are you swimming more efficiently for the same effort?”


Ultimately that is what you want from a piece of super-duper go-faster kit – that you swim, run or cycle faster for the same effort!

“When you are comparing different suits, you need to pick a constant that you can fix, in the pool this is pace or stroke rate. You can use a tempo-trainer to help you do this. Pick a pace that you can manage comfortably but that is close to your race pace.”

“Ideally you would test one wetsuit per session so you could match your warm-up time and ensure each test is done without fatigue. If you can’t do that make sure you allow full recovery between each suit. 400 metres should be enough data to reveal differences, anything less than this is hard to analyse.”

Trying this at home?

  • Identify pace that you can replicate comfortably in each test
  • Swim 400m minimum in each suit with adequate rest between tests
  • Look for the suit that provides the nearest to 0 degrees pitch angle – it is stopping your legs from sinking
  • If your Swim Economy improves it shows you are swimming more efficiently
  • If you are more efficient you can swim faster for the same effort 

A new wet-suit could make you faster but you can’t buy speed forever!  Using INCUS will help you develop your technique so you can keep improving your swim times every session.

Read how race-winning professional triathlete Ruth Anstle transformed her swim.

One final tip from Liam, “if you wear your INCUS|NOVA under a wetsuit make sure it's flat to your back and not nudged out the way by the zip.”

Head to our Swim Store now for more information

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