Having agreed to sell HUUB Wetsuits to you good people, I wanted to make sure that the wetsuits stand up to scrutiny, that they aren’t just marketing hype. Some of the fastest triathlete swimmers in the world are wearing them, like Richard Varga, and now ex World Champ Helen Jenkins – as well as Alistair and Jonny Brownlee – are all wearing the new kid on the block!
The Huub website says “The best wetsuit in our opinion ever created. The Archimedes (named after the great Physicist and Mathematician Archimedes and his Buoyancy principle) This suit quite simply delivers the buoyancy and flexibility that you would expect along with a host of benefits created by the experts in scientific and practical swimming development.”
Firstly, the suit looks sharp! Lets be honest, with most of the kit we buy, if we’re prepared to spend a bit of cash, we want to look good! Regardless of shape, size or swim speed, the dark material with the silvery panels, contouring and flashes (red on the men’s, pink on the women’s Axena) certainly help with making the suit look fast. And purely from a psychological point of view, if you think you look fast it certainly helps you to swim quicker.
Of course there are several suits out on the market that look fast, but how do the specs match up?
Firstly, I’d like to get the only negative out of the way. There are a lot of suits and brands around that have marketing material on their suits. That is, there are elements of the specification or the suit that don’t serve any real or useful point. For the Archimedes, this element is the bicep release panels. When swimming we talk about having high elbows to help maintain pressure on your forearm and hand through the water. Huub say that this panel is to take pressure off your bicep when your arm is in this bent position, but through the midpoint of your stroke your bicep is under isometric contraction; that is, it doesn’t expand (concentric), it just holds the arm in place. It just renders the stretchier panel fairly irrelevant – it certainly doesn’t make the suit any worse.
Now to the positives!
The suit fits well – having sold a few to clients of different sizes (small to tall, lightweight to slightly larger), Huub have done a great job making sure that the suits don’t just fit one body type. A good fitting suit makes more difference than anything the wetsuit has to offer, and certainly is more important than the cost of the kit! Added to this the mix of 39 and 40 cell neoprene (the softest/smoothest/most flexible neoprene that is currently widely available) and the super stretchy and comfortable jersey on the inside, the Archimedes is incredibly mobile without being too stretchy. There are a few suits that are made completely of the 40 cell neoprene (TYR Freak of Nature and Aquaman Gold Cell) which while comfortable, can over stretch and fill with water; this makes the fitting of the wetsuit irrelevant and obviously adds to drag, so Huub have done well to avoid this.
The neck and zip, however, is my favourite part of the Archimedes wetsuit. For once a wetsuit’s neck closure system felt locked in without choking, and there was little to no water entering through this area. The zip isn’t just your standard zip. Aquaman and Blueseventy pioneered the idea behind a reverse zip – the idea being that with the zip at the bottom (and opening upward), you won’t get people unzipping you deliberately or otherwise! Huub have taken a different route; a breakaway where a sharp hard pull on the zip means the teeth will break apart and allow you to pull the suit down over your shoulders – and off. I have to say, after initially struggling to adapt to the idea, actually it was a really easy way to get out of the suit and is a nice difference to the usual.
Down the calves is a similar material to that on the biceps. Similar to the bicep release panel, Huub state that this is to “improve kick, propulsion and circulation”, though honestly I don’t feel that is necessary (see above!). On the flip side, the extra flexible material helps with wetsuit removal – especially as I have big (size 12) feet! So while the stated intention might not be particularly worthwhile and just for the sake of being there – but actually it works anyway.
Finally the last part of Huub and their philosophy – offering suits at the same specification for two different styles; a more hip buoyant 3:5 and a more neutrally buoyant 4:4. The numbers refer to the thickness of the neoprene in mm. The idea is that the 3:5 is thicker, and therefor more buoyant around the hips for triathletes whose legs tend to sink, while the other style is aimed at swimmers who have got their body position more in line (obviously something we coach here!). Its a great (if slightly lazy?) way of getting weaker swimmers more happy and confident in the water. The extra buoyancy in the hips of the 3:5 does definitely lift the hips more than the 4:4. Its a great option for athletes at both the £500 and £380 price points – but it’s not a philosophy confined to Huub. Blue Seventy and Orca both do varieties of their wetsuits, they just call them different names.
The Huub Archimedes is without a doubt one of THE fastest wetsuits that I have swum in. It’s truly comfortable, snug but flexible and easy to get off. I am looking forward to swimming fast and coming out at the front in it this season!