Friday, June 19, 2015

Product Review - Open Water Swim Gear

As I mentioned in a blog not too long ago, I recently purchased a wetsuit.  Since I learned that finding swim gear can be kind of overwhelming, and especially challenging for larger build women (and men), I thought I'd use today's blog to discuss what gear I purchased, and what I think of it.




Synergy Endorphin
Purchased at for $199
Also available (price varies) on, in case you want to read other reviews

Size selected based on Synergy's height/weight chart, which proved accurate for both myself and my husband:


Thoughts:  First of all, there is no comparison when it comes to getting this suit on (versus a TYR equivalent).  The stretch and cut of this suit is fantastic, and makes getting into it much more ... well, fun, if you can call putting on a wet suit fun ... which, just to be clear, it's not

As for function, so far I'm thrilled with the performance.  Not only do I feel like I get full range of motion, which I hear can be an issue in some full sleeved suits, I don't feel choked, which I also hear is an issue in many wetsuits.  It's possible that all of the above comments derive from the quality of neoprene used in the construction of the suit ... ?  Apparently other suits in this price point don't offer quite the engineering this one does:

I also feel very buoyant and secure when I have this on - for example, any time I feel like I want a break swimming, I can just flip over on my back, and this suit would practically let me float for hours. 

While I don't have any previous wetsuit experience, I would recommend this brand based on my first few trials of this suit.



TYR Alliance Splice Lycra Suit
Purchased at local swim shop for around $30

Thoughts: I bought this suit as an emergency/backup suit for the regular poly one I wear to lap swim 99% of the time.  Basically, I intended this to be the "my other suit is in the wash" option.  Since it was cheap, it looked ok on me, and it fit - I bought it (side note: I've got a long torso, so in TYR I found I had to size up one to make it fit me).  There's nothing special about this suit, and I wouldn't even particularly recommend it or not.  The only reason I now use it for open water swimming is that I knew this suit would definitely not hold up to constant chemical exposure at the pool, and as soon as I needed something available to "leave at the cabin" for lake swimming, I decided to sacrifice this one for that purpose.  Rather than buy this suit for yourself, I recommend you go to the local swim shop, try on some suits to see what size fits/feels good to you, and then buy whatever appeals to you.  As a side note, I did get my husband a $12 jammer at, so there are definitely budget options for everybody out there!



TYR Silicone Molded Ear Plugs
Purchased at for $3.49

Thoughts: I've actually been pool swimming with these plugs for over a year, and for me they work great.  Some people might say ear plugs are unnecessary, and maybe they are, but for me I found it at least took one stressor out of the mix (worrying about water going into my ear) and made it easier for me to focus on my swim.  Plus, I didn't have to deal with the pain of a water plugged ear after a swim session. They do take a little getting used to, since you have to make sure you position them in your ear properly, but once I got that figured out I never swam without them again.  Also, keep in mind everyone's ear is shaped differently, so I can't guaranteed they'll work for you.  However, for $3.49, there's no huge loss if they don't work out. 



Sporti Antifog Plus Goggles
Purchased at for $4.55

Thoughts: Wow, for under $5, I had some serious doubts about these goggles.  But, that was all for naught  These goggles are great!  Once I adjusted the sizing for my head, they suctioned right onto my eyes without a single leak during a 1 hour swim.  I did have a brief moment where they started to fog (maybe 15 minutes into my swim, max), but I think that was because I was quite hot from putting on my wetsuit and swimming, and the water/air temps were sub 70.  A quick swipe of my finger inside each lens to remove the build up, and the rest of the swim I was just fine.

Swim Socks


Vincere Sports Sand Sock in lime green/purple
Purchased at for $24.75

I selected my size based on feedback written by swimmers on Amazon's reviews page (this is technically a volleyball/sand sock, so you need to consider that these will behave differently when used for swimming); feedback suggested sizing down one from Vincere's size chart based on street shoe size

Thoughts:  Eeeehhhh ... I want to love these, but ... sigh.  Despite sizing down, these still end up getting a little loose & sloppy when you swim.  They're not terrible, but if a pair of loose-ish socks flopping around your feet will make you crazy during a swim, they may not be for you.  For me, with my "don't want the lake crap to touch my feet" phobia, they're at least an option for keeping my feet covered.  I'm debating sewing a little elastic into them around the ankle or something to help them stay put.  If I ever engineer an option that works, I'll let you know.

Swim Cap


Quite honestly I have a shit-ton of these things, some of them I paid for and some of them I got free
Since it will likely get questions, I purchased the tiara one above at for $6.45

Thoughts: It's a swim cap.  Need I really say more?  Since I find the thinner caps less stretchy and more difficult to put on, I prefer the thicker style caps made of silicone.  Also, I feel like the thinner kinds might rip when I'm putting them on, so I feel like the thicker caps are more durable.  Then again, I guess I've never ripped a cap, so maybe I'm just being paranoid about that whole thing ... ?  My only word of advice here is to pick whatever appeals to you and don't waste a bunch of money on whatever you pick.


Total spent (since this wasn't a cheap endeavor): just shy of $270.00

Wetsuit - $199.00
Swimsuit - $30.00
Earplugs - $3.49
Goggles - $4.55
Swim Socks - $24.75
Swim Cap - $6.45

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