**I wrote this yesterday before the great suit debacle hit the internet earlier today. There is a lot of confusion and speculation surrounding B70′s complete absence from the new approved suit list from FINA. Frankly I have no idea what’s going to come of the whole situation, what masters is going to do, and by the looks of the list the fact that B70 isn’t on it is pretty fishy to me. I’ll try and keep the blog abreast of all the swimsuit drama as best I can. For what it’s worth, here’s my thoughts on the B70 swimskin having just purchased one myself 2 weeks ago.
***UPDATE: The blueseventy Nero Comp is legal in Masters until at least the end of 2009, it’s fate beyond that point is yet to be decided.
I’ve been swimming in a TYR Tracer Light since March and I am enamored with it. I’ve been B70 curious because I like the company and their word of mouth in the masters community is amazing. If you were at Nationals you probably noticed that the pool deck was a veritable sea of B70′s. Lots of my friends swim in them and swear by the results. Whenever somebody talks to me about my Tracer the next question typically is “how’s it compared to the B70?” After getting that question about 400 times I decided to see for myself. I don’t know anybody else that owns both, if you do please chime in with a comment on this post, I’m very curious how other people feel about it.
I purchased my B70 at Clovis because they were actually there with suits for me to try on. My build doesn’t fit into their general sizing and I didn’t want to make a $300+ mistake by ordering it online. The girl running their booth (Megan?) was very helpful and let me try on 2 different sizes, a 30 and a 32. The 30 was a hell of a struggle to get on. I almost gave up half way through. I managed to get the straps up over my shoulders and I walked myself back to the tent all sweaty and disheveled wondering if I was zippable. The girl from B70 took a crack at it and decided I needed to size up, this wasn’t going to happen and even if it did it would be too constrictive to actually swim in. She handed me a bigger size and after another considerable struggle I managed to get this one on me. It was still tight and not easy to zip up, but it was a little long. I managed to work it out later where I jacked the suit up higher to negate most of the length problem. Since I was wrapped in a chloroprene sausage casing with no desire to attempt to take it off I decided this was as good a time as any to finally buy one of these things. They were running a deal at nationals where you could buy the suit for $336 and get a free pair of goggles. Not a bad deal considering the $395 MSRP! Plus I figure this is my down payment on a next generation B70 in 2010 if this one is deemed illegal.
After parting with a healthy pile of money I made my way to the warm up pool to get a feel for the suit. Now I know why so many swimming purists are pissed off, it is very floaty. It felt like the first time I put on any kind of techsuit, except I’ve been wearing them since December. I felt like I had the most float on my legs. I did a few hundred yards to get warmed up and used to the suit and then waited for the 50 fly. I raced the 50 fly in the B70 and honestly my first impression was “meh.” I didn’t like it. I felt floaty, not faster. I didn’t have that magical swimming epiphany so many other people have had in their first B70′d race. I swam a best time, but just barely. I was kind of put off on the suit so I switched back to my Tracer Light for the 200 breast with the thought that I would use the B70 in my 50 free the next day and see how it went. My freestyle felt pretty good in the suit. I made another very small improvement in my time. I figured I might as well swim the 100 fly in it as well, see what happens. I really wish I hadn’t. Me, butterfly, and my B70 don’t mix well. I felt either a bubble or water sloshing inside the suit and it was really distracting to my swim. I swam slightly slower than my time at Pacific masters Championships last month and I felt like crap at that meet and I honestly feel like the suit cost me time at Nationals. So across 3 races I was basically even with my times in the Tracer Light. I also did the open water swim in my B70 and that went well. I think the suit suits me in freestyle, but not much else. This weekend just to get a full test by swimming every stroke, I swam a 50 of each stroke at the Santa Clarita LCM meet hoping to learn to like this suit some more, but it just didn’t happen.
The suit itself is well constructed and much more durable than I had expected. I’ve swam 7 pool events and an open water swim in it and I have no holes or trouble with seams. I really like B70, I own a B70 wetsuit and a few pairs of goggles, but their swimskins just aren’t built for a guy built like me. Even though it is very tight on me it seems to leak water when I butterfly which is not something I want to have to think about when I am sprinting.
Here’ my thoughts on whether you should get yourself one. If you are thinner and fit within their sizing chart I believe this could be a very fast suit for you. If you’re like me and little more… we’ll call it powerfully built :)… you could run into trouble. Now that I’ve swam in a few different bodysuits I think the cut and the way it fits you is much more important than what it’s made out of. I really wish suit manufacturers would build some suits with more “masters friendly” dimensions because, well, we buy a ton of this stuff! If you have the chance to swim in a borrowed techsuit before buying one I highly recommend it. If you swim in SPMA and would fit into a 32 I’ll let you try mine out because I’m pretty sure I’m done with it.
As it stands right now I think my B70 is in for early retirement, we’ll see what they come out with next year and I might give it a shot. In the meantime I am going back to my Tracer Light. It’s more realistically cut for a bigger guy and the suit construction is outstanding. I also think the compression in the Tracer is much more precise than in the B70. I’m 26 swims deep in my Tracer and when it finally gives out or I get bored of it, I think my next suit is going to be Tracer Rise as long as the price is reasonable (I’ve seen $400+ kinds of numbers, ouch!). I’m probably the 1 out of 10 that doesn’t like the B70 Nero, but it is what it is. I really wanted to love it, it’s just not the right suit for me.
So in a nutshell… for me Tracer Light > B70 Nero Comp
If you want to get yourself a B70, you can get one here.
**UPDATE 26JUL09: I put one of my teammates in my B70 for the USMS SW Zone LCM Championships and he loved it. He’s built a lot different than me and the suit really worked well for him. He’s a 6’4″ish former power-lifter so the suit fit him a lot better and he swam some really fast times in it.
**UPDATE 18AUG09: I’ve worn the Nero Comp in 2 more open water races and I really like it for open water. The only thing I don’t like is how often it gets mistaken for a wetsuit by people manning the finish chute. Each time I had to point out that it was NOT a wetsuit so that I could finish my race.