What a fantastic month with swimrun races taking place all over the world!
This has been the hottest summer since measurements began over 260 years ago in Sweden. As the heatwave has covered most of Europe many swimrunners have opted out from using wetsuits. Swimrun is a young sport and the equipment in the non-wetsuit department is scarce.
Swimrun in a 2-piece set-up
This year however we have seen a move towards swimrunning with a 2-piece setup, i.e. a detached bottom (swimrun pants a.k.a “jammers”) and a swimrun top. Orca has come out with a 2-piece version in full neoprene, HEAD has been around for quite some time with their Swimrun Bat Top and now both Colting and NU has released their own versions as well.
But how do these non-neoprene tops perform when swimrunning?
In general, as with all sports, the less equipment you have to use the better. But in this case, adding a swimrun top can be beneficial to your overall comfort and thus indirectly improve your performance. Not only will a swimrun top protect you from the blasting sun (a topic we have covered before), especially when swimming exposed in the water on the surface. But also allow for a nice cooling down effect while running on land. The top will also offer storage possibilities for key equipment like a 1st aid kit, water and energy.
Testing of swimrun tops
Over the summer we’ve put the tops to some serious swimrun testing. Below you’ll find our conclusions:
The Colting Swimrun Top (Swimrun Jersey – SRJ03)
The swimrun top features quick dry functional material, woven high grade fabric combined with an extra breathable mesh area on the back. The material breathes well and works great in reducing heat. The tight fit yet with flexible material around the shoulders provides good mobility for the arm stroke when swimming. The top features 3 separate pockets on its lower back.
This is a great option for those who want to minimize the use of gear and who easily heat up too much in a wetsuit. It’s easy to swim in and despite not being comparable to using neoprene with its advantageous buoyancy, you can swim really fast in it. The pockets on the lower back are easily accessible and will store the needed basic equipment. They will drain any excessive water quickly and have minimal impact on the hydrodynamics when swimming. It’s possible to use this as a second layer underneath your wetsuit in colder conditions, however the lower back pockets can be a bit difficult to use if the back-zipper is not long enough.
The NU Swimrun Top (Limpert Shirt)
The NU swimrun top is made with transpirable materials that dries quickly. It has a total of 5 pockets; 2 on the chest, another 2 on the lower front and 1 big on the lower back. The NU top is really comfortable with a tight fit and it ventilates well when running. It works surprisingly well to swim in, with limited drag given that it is initially intended for being worn underneath a wetsuit. However, if you store items in the front pockets and swim without a wetsuit, the pockets can open up creating some drag. The water will drain for sure and if you are handy you can add some welcro to shut the pockets and get rid of that problem. The material dries quickly and is very flexible and since the shoulders are free, you wont feel this top during the swim stroke. Underneath the westuit it will provide great storage possibilities and the upper front pockets are excellent and very reachable, the lower front are somewhat easy to access while cabbed down but the back pocket can be a bit difficult to reach depending on the length of the back zipper on the wetsuit you use. The added benefit with this top is that its designed to work as an extra layer also in colder conditions.
The Head Swimrun Top
Head is offering a sleeveless top with a model for men and women, something rare enough to be mentioned. It features a low neck, no sleeves, several pocket in the front and in the back. The variety of size and position of the pockets offers a large variety of options to store food or other safety equipment. Noticeably the large pocket on the chest is very accessible when the garment is worn under a wetsuit and only the front zip is open, which is often the case in short runs or if the weather is cold. It’s easy to reach even under a race bib, an advantage the racers will appreciate. The drawback of this design is that if this top is worn without a wetsuit the position of this chest pocket is not very hydrodynamic, especially if one put bulky equipment in it, which is the point of having such a large pocket. To be fair, Head describes this top as being designed to be worn under a wetsuit. So if you want to use it as a top for warm weather, do it but make sure you limit the amount of equipment you put in the front pockets. With 80% Nylon and 20% Extra Life Lycra it evacuates rapidly the water and stretch enough not avoid restricting movements. A very good base layer usable with no wetsuit too.
As the water temperature in the outer Stockholm archipelago at the moment (August 2018) stays around 20-25 degrees, maybe several ÖtillÖ challengers will race in this minimalistic outfit this year; if it’s allowed.
And it should be this year!
/The WoS Team