If you haven’t bought a wetsuit in a few years, or if you are like me and simply haven’t swum for a few years you may be surprised at the amount of advancement that has taken place in wetsuit technology. Thinner, lighter materials make the suits more flexible and the method of manufacturing allows for panels of varying thickness to be joined intricately to place the right material in the right place.
“Trinube” tests out the Rocket Science Aqusense wetsuit and gives us his opinion.
The wetsuit, the great crutch for all those who prefer not to train for the swim leg of a triathlon. Just how much benefit does a top of the line suit offer over the alternatives?
When I first took a look at the Rocket AquaSense wetsuit my first reaction was how lightweight it was. It was like they’d shaved the skin off a baby dolphin and turned it into a race suit. The arms are remarkably thin but surprisingly durable - I was genuinely worried when getting the suit on that it would rip apart - happily I can report it is very strong and the lining does an admirable job of keeping it all together. From a lay point of view it looks well made from quality materials with welded seams. It has a reverse zip which is not my preference but seems to be the norm in other high end wetties. It uses “Buoyancy Laminated Technology” which is supposed to offer greater buoyancy with less thickness and the overall svelteness of the suit would seem to suggest they’ve succeeded.
It’s also a fairly stylish suit with a few splashes of colour and some not so discreet marketing.
My second reaction was ‘it’s tiny!’. This was a medium sized suit which, according to the RS website is suited for people from 170-185 cm (I’m 177) and 75-82kg (I’m @79). Size and weight wise I am bang in the middle but when I held it up against myself it was obvious it was going to need to stretch a LOT.
“it’s tiny!” How am I going to fit into this?
I found it quite a struggle to get on, even with plastic bags (although in fairness I was still damp from a warm up swim). For those who like the numbers it took 3 minutes and 48 seconds of huffing and puffing to get suited up. Like most suits, it felt very snug, particularly across the shoulders where I am fairly broad.
Ready to go, fits snug but pretty comfortable. Looks the goods too.
About now I should make a confession that I normally wear a sleeveless suit for just this reason, but I was very keen to see if a top of the line sleeved suit could make me feel equally free in movement - more on that later.
So how does one go about testing a wetsuit? Just swimming and giving you a time would be meaningless without some baseline to work from so I headed down to the secret tranny wetsuit testing facility tucked away in the bowels of the shire to work out what this suit can offer in terms of performance.
For the sake of reference I’m an average sort of triathlon swimmer. I’ve done two Ironman swims; a 1:06 and 1:08 - both at Busso. I have a very standard speed and can lock into that pace without much variance making it easy for me to get a good idea of the difference a suit makes. I did a short warm up then averaged a number of swims in each suit. These times are for straight swims in seawater with no current and dead flat. No idea of distance but probably a few hundred metres. I would consider the pace to be IM type pace (not sprinting).
Baseline swim - speedos only - 5:10
Rocket Science Aquasense Suit - 4:34
It FEELS fast and that’s a pretty handy increase in pace but I also wanted to compare with my regular sleeveless suit to see if there’s any real world advantage for me.
Sleeveless - 4:41
So over a relatively short distance the Aquasense suit appears faster and extrapolating that to an IM swim could be as much as a minute quicker over sleeveless. Of course there is clearly a huge advantage over a non-wetsuit swim.
There are a couple of other things to consider though. Both suits plane like surfboards when you first get in - anyone who’s worn a swim wetsuit will know the feeling - but I still feel freer in the shoulder in a sleeveless. That said I’m sure there are a LOT of people who are a little narrower in their top half for whom there would be far less restriction and the AquaSense would be perfect (and fast). I’m still concerned I would fatigue a bit quicker in the shoulders in a long swim but that’s a very personal observation and shouldn’t be seen as a black mark. I can honestly say of all the long sleeved suits I have tried this was easily the least restrictive.
I still prefer sleeveless but the Aquasense had less shoulder restriction than any other suit I’ve tried.
Now another less obvious consideration is the time to get the suit OFF in transition (yes, we actually timed this). To remove the very snug Rocket suit was 23 seconds and to remove my sleeveless was 7 seconds. This means in anything up to an Olympic distance race the advantage in the water will likely be negated by the extra time to remove it.
There is one more positive note I’d like to add and that is the overall comfort and cut of the Aquasense. Whilst snug it is beautifully designed and tailored around the neck - very comfortable without the slightest suggestion of chafing (although I did slip some BodyGlide on before I started).
Maglock technology, a simple yet very effective way of dealing with the westuit cord.
It’s not a cheap suit - $695 recommended retail - but that probably compares with equivalent suits from other manufacturers. It’s no doubt fast but like any suit it will depend on how well it fits your particular body shape. I don’t think warmth would be an issue but it is very lightweight so if you intend doing Lake Tahoe or some other cold water event you might like to test it first. It’s as stylish as a wetsuit can be and very comfortable. It is clearly a quality product and includes some progressive technology.
So I guess it comes down to would I buy one. If I wanted a sleeved suit and money wasn’t an issue I would dive in and get it. It has a lot of good features and I can’t think of anything to criticise beyond personal preference issues (reverse zipper). Having said that, if I was actually in the market for a new wetsuit I would still buy sleeveless. If the Rocket sleeveless suits are of similar quality to the sleeved suit it would be a perfect buy for me.
If you’re currently shopping for a new top of the line wetsuit the Rocket Science Aquasense certainly deserves consideration.
Well made and finished
Seems very durable
Looks as nice as any other suit
Price (if you’re sensitive to cost)
Reverse Zip (just my personal preference)
NB. No baby dolphins were harmed in the making of this review