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Ultimate Guide to the Best Swimskins

Swimskins have been growing in popularity during the past few years in triathlons and open water swimming. This is primarily due to their benefits for speed and aerodynamics and also the fact that they are legal even when the water is too warm for wetsuits.

Overall there are not a ton of options when it comes to swimskins, but the TriNewbies team has reviewed the best swimskins and came up with the list below.

Quick List of The Top 5 Swimskins

1. Best Overall Swimskin, Roka Viper Pro Swimskin – $295 at Roka.com (Mens/Womens)

2. Best High End Swimskin, Roka Viper X2 Swimskin – $375 at Roka.com (Mens/Womens)

3. Most Comfortable Swimskin, Zone3 Sleeveless Swimskin – $204.99 at Amazon.com (Mens/Womens)

4. Best Budget Swimskin, Synergy Triathlon SynSkin$204.99 at Amazon.com (Mens/Womens)

5. blueseventy PZ2TX – Price not available at Amazon.com (Mens/Womens)

Swimskins for triathletes are similar to those used in competitive swimming, but they may have some additional features to cater to the needs of triathlon. These features can include increased durability to withstand the rigors of open water swimming, reinforced seams for improved longevity, and added buoyancy to assist with swimming in choppy or turbulent waters.

Advantages of Swimskins

Swimskins often offer some degree of buoyancy, which can help keep you closer to the water’s surface and reduce the drag caused by excessive body submersion. This buoyancy can contribute to improved speed and reduced fatigue during a swim, ultimately resulting in faster swim times.

It’s important to note that the extent of the time improvement will vary depending on the you swim technique, skill level, and the specific design and fit of the swimskin. The effectiveness of swimskins can also be influenced by factors such as race distance, water conditions, and individual differences in body composition.

While swimskins alone cannot guarantee faster swim times, they can provide a competitive advantage by reducing drag and improving hydrodynamics, potentially leading to improved performance and faster swim times for triathletes.

Overall, swimskins can be a valuable piece of equipment for triathletes when faced with a non-wetsuit swim, offering improved hydrodynamics and buoyancy during the swimming portion of the race. They can contribute to faster swim times and better energy conservation, ultimately enhancing performance in triathlon events.

1. Best Overall Swimskin – Roka Viper Pro Swimskin ($295) – Womens/Mens

ROKA Men's Viper Pro Swimskin for Swimming and Triathlon Black

Roka is definitely the leader in the swimskin space, with most pros and amateur triathletes donning their swimskins. The Roka Viper Pro is the top of the line swim suit. The Viper X2 Swimskin is USAT and IRONMAN legal and continues to utilize two varieties of the same premium stretch-woven textile from Italy, a hydrophobic Teflon® coating, high-tech bonded seam construction with novel hidden stitch reinforcement and a low-profile autolocking YKK zipper.

The Roku Viper Pro and X2 (below) both come with no-sew stretch woven technology, meaning there are no creases or lines in the suit to increase drag. The suits also provide a good amount of compression, which also helps reduce drag while supporting the core and the legs in the water, helping both swimming posture and speed. The suit has printed silicone leg grippers on the inside of the leg opening for a straight seam cut and the company promises “no sausage leg”.

Here are Roka’s top swimskin tips:

  1. Swimskins should fit snugly but comfortably without inhibiting your breathing or arm movement. Fit may feel different while swimming vs. on land, so make sure to try the suit in the water. They are meant to have a tight, compression fit, like a competition pool swimming suit.
  2. Note that swimskins are meant to be worn on top of a race top/bottom or race suit only for the swim portion of the race. They are very specific, high-performance garments not meant to be worn alone like traditional swimwear and the suits can be see-through under certain light or when wet. Undergarments such as a tri kit or swimsuit are strongly advised.
  3. Your race kit will affect the fit slightly, so please be sure to try them on and swim in them with your race kit or another suit underneath.
Roka Size Chart for the Viper Swim skin

2. Best High End Swimskin – Roka Viper X2 Swimskin ($375)Womens/Mens

The Roka Viper X2 is the top-of-the-line swim skin, and also tops the list as the most expensive. If you’re looking for the best swim skin your money can buy, the Viper X2 is the way to go.

The main difference between the Viper X2 and the Viper Pro is the IXI Taping which is placed in various areas in the swim skin. This allows your movements, especially lower to upper body, to become more in line and provide a smoother swim through the water.

The Viper X2 Swimskin is USAT and IRONMAN legal and continues to utilize two varieties of the same premium stretch-woven textile from Italy, a hydrophobic Teflon® coating, high-tech bonded seam construction with novel hidden stitch reinforcement and a low-profile autolocking YKK zipper. It is strategically designed with a pattern and panel layout that liberates your arms while providing support where you need it. All these little details add up to free speed on race day. For the ultimate in swimskin performance, the ROKA Viper X2 promises unmatched support, technology and comfort.

3. Most Comfortable Swimskin – Zone3 Sleeveless Swimskin ($204.99)Womens/Mens

Zone3 Men's Streamline Sleeveless Swimskin (Black/Red, Small)

The Zone3 brand is well known in the triathlon world and is known for it’s quality products.

The Zone3 Streamline swim-skin has been developed as an entry-level version of our classic swim-skin. The suits have been developed due to a number of requests from Ironman athletes who are looking for that extra core support and reduced drag during non-wetsuit swims.

The suit is designed to go over the top of your race uniform so offers good body coverage. The fit is designed for speed and the seams are glued and head bonded for comfort and to maximise drag resistance. There is also zip on the back with a cord attached to allow the suits to be removed easily.

The suit is made using top end Italian fabrics, including the tried and tested Revo Energy fabric on the main body. It has hydrophobic fabric for maximum compression & minimum water absorption and a water repellent coating on the body for a faster swim. The suit has fully bonded seams for comfort and minimal drag and a fit designed for speed and maximum coverage.

It has a bright purple back for increased visibility in the water.

Please remember that this is a high-performance product and care should be taken when putting the suit on. Once on, you’re all set to start swimming faster than ever!

4. Best Budget Swimskin – Synergy Triathlon SynSkin Swimskin ($209.95)Womens/Mens

Synergy Men's SynSkin 2 Triathlon Swimskin (Small, SynSkin 2)

The Synergy Synskin is the perfect entry level swimskin that offers the excellent benefits of water resistant materials and aerodynamics at an extremely reasonable price.

The suite comes with many of the same features as the higher prices models, including bonded seams, which reduce drag, and YKK auto locking zipper for smooth removal. Like most swimskins, sizing can be an issue. The chart below should be a good guide, but there have been complaints about weird sizing so be sure about the return policy before you order, as you may need to go a size up or down.

Synergy Size Chart for the SynSkin 2

5. blueseventy PZ2TX Triathlon Swimskin (Price not available) Womens/Mens

blueseventy PZ2TX Triathlon Swimskin - Ironman and FINA Approved - (Men's) (XL)

The blueseventy swimskins are available in both women’s and men’s versions and are approved by IRONMAN and FINA.

The blueseventy is packed with features and offers low drag thanks to ultra-soinc bonded seams reduce chafing, pressure points and provide a smooth surface flow in the water. The hydrophonic energy fabric provides an excellent fit, great coverage and exceptional speed in the water while welded seams further reduce surface drag. The white heat reflective fabric provides optimal thermoregulation, which allows your body to maintain its core internal temperature.

The blueseventy swimskin provides great elasticity, optimal muscular compression and exceptional breathability with an innovative side panel that improves swimming position and athlete performance. It has and advanced YKK auto locking zipper (no string or lanyard needed). This unique zipper system reduces drag, is faster to remove and due to its light weight and flexibility, is more comfortable.

The blueseventy swimskin offers a ton of great features listed for the other swimskins, this makes the blueseventy PZ2TX a solid overall swimskin.

blueseventy Swimskin Sizing Chart

Advantage of Swimskins

One key advantage of swimskins for triathletes is their hydrodynamic properties. By reducing drag and improving streamline, swimskins can help triathletes swim more efficiently, conserving energy for the other legs of the race. Additionally, the buoyancy provided by the swimskin can help you maintain better body position in the water, aiding in swimming speed and reducing fatigue.

Regulations Around Swimskins

It’s important to note that the rules and regulations regarding swimskins can vary between triathlon events and governing bodies. Some races may have specific guidelines on the use of swimskins, including restrictions on the thickness or material of the suits. Therefore, it’s advisable for you to check the rules of the particular event you are participating in to ensure compliance.

Swimskins vs Wetsuits

Wetsuits are thicker and bulkier that swimskins and generally are used more for warmth and buoyancy. Swimskins provide neither of those, instead focusing more on the aerodynamics and hydrophobics to make the swimmer more streamline through the water. The newer swimskins have tried to add in some features for warmth like the blueseventy so if you do get cold in water this could be worth a look.

If you are looking for a wetsuit, check out our top wetsuits!

The advantage of a wetsuit is for colder races since they do provide warmth, but for some races with water temps in the high 70’s and above, wetsuits could be illegal and dangerous due to overheating. That is really where the skimskin has its advantage since there is little risk of overheating due to the thin fabric.

WetsuitSwimskin
WarmthYesNo
BuoyanceYesNo
AerodynamicYesYes
Improves SpeedYesYes
USAT LegalYes, up to 84 F Water TempYes
WTC (Ironman) LegalYes, up to 84 F Water TempYes

Conclusion

Swimskins can be a valuable asset for triathletes seeking to enhance their performance in the swim leg of the race. While wetsuits are commonly used in triathlons, swimskins offer a compelling alternative in situations where wetsuits are not permitted, or the water temperature is too warm.

The advantages of swimskins in triathlon are notable. This specialized swimwear provides reduced drag and improved hydrodynamics, allowing swimmers to move through the water with greater efficiency. The tight and streamlined fit of swimskins minimizes resistance and promotes better body positioning, resulting in improved speed and reduced fatigue during the swim leg.

Furthermore, swimskins often offer additional buoyancy, helping triathletes maintain optimal body position and glide through open water more effectively. This can be particularly beneficial in rough or choppy conditions where stability is crucial.

While swimskins may not be as common in triathlon as wetsuits, they have found their place among competitive swimmers and triathletes looking to gain a competitive edge. It’s important to note that the specific rules and regulations regarding swimskins can vary between triathlon events, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the guidelines of the race you plan to participate in.

Ultimately, whether you choose a swimskin or opt for a wetsuit in your triathlon journey, both options have their advantages. Consider factors such as water temperature, race regulations, personal preferences, and the specific demands of the course when making your decision.

Whichever route you take, investing in quality swim gear that fits you well and enhances your performance can make a significant difference in your triathlon experience. Embrace the swim leg with confidence and stride towards your goals with the support of technology and gear designed to help you excel.

FAQ – Swimskins for Triathlon

Do Swimskins improve swim time?

Yes, swimskins have the potential to improve swim time for competitive swimmers, including triathletes. Swimskins are designed to reduce drag and enhance hydrodynamics in the water, which can result in faster swimming speeds. By providing a tight and streamlined fit, swimskins help minimize resistance and turbulence caused by the swimmer’s body, allowing them to move through the water more efficiently.

When and How to you wear swimskins in triathlons?

Swimskins are meant to be worn over your tri-suit and are taken off after your swim in transition, rather like a wetsuit.

What is a triathlon swimskin?

A triathlon swimskin is a specialized swimwear designed for use during the swimming leg of a triathlon. It offers improved hydrodynamics, reduced drag, and added buoyancy to enhance a triathlete’s performance in the water.

How is a triathlon swimskin different from a regular swimsuit?

Triathlon swimskins are specifically designed for open water swimming and the unique demands of triathlon races. They often feature enhanced durability, reinforced seams, and additional buoyancy compared to regular swimsuits.

What are the benefits of using a triathlon swimskin?

Triathlon swimskins provide several advantages, including reduced drag, improved streamline, and increased buoyancy. They help triathletes swim more efficiently, conserve energy, and maintain better body position in the water.

Can I use a triathlon swimskin in pool swims?

Yes, triathlon swimskins can be used in both open water swims and pool swims. However, keep in mind that the rules and regulations of the specific event or governing body may have restrictions or guidelines on the use of swimskins.

How do I choose the right triathlon swimskin?

When choosing a triathlon swimskin, consider factors such as fit, comfort, hydrodynamic properties, buoyancy, and durability. It’s important to try on different options and find one that suits your body shape and personal preferences.

Are triathlon swimskins legal in all triathlon events?

The rules regarding the use of swimskins can vary between triathlon events and governing bodies. Some races may have specific guidelines on the thickness or material of the swimskins. Always check the rules of the particular event you are participating in to ensure compliance.

How should I take care of my triathlon swimskin?

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance of your swimskin. Rinse it with fresh water after each use, avoid exposing it to excessive chlorine or sunlight, and store it properly to maintain its performance and longevity.

Can I wear a wetsuit instead of a swimskin in a triathlon?

In certain triathlon events, wetsuits are allowed or even required depending on the water temperature. Swimskins are typically used when wetsuits are not allowed, or the water is too warm for a wetsuit but a swimskin is still desired for its performance benefits.

Remember to refer to the specific rules and regulations of your triathlon event, as they may have specific guidelines regarding swimskins, wetsuits, and their usage.

Rating: 4.00/5. From 5 votes.
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Joe Obringer
Joe Obringer
Joe Obringer is an former collegiate swimmer in the Big Ten.  He has competed in many triathlons, including Half Ironmans.

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