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My Blueseventy

Posted by Glenn Mills on Jun 24, 2008 08:10AM

While there have been studies, debate, arguments, and opinions on the "new suits," I figured the best way to create my own opinion was to give one a try.  I tend to get along really well with other breaststrokers, so I gave Roque Santos a call to inquire about trying out a Blueseventy suit.

I spoke to Roque (the 1992 Olympic Trials Champion in the 200 breaststroke) and explained that I had a meet coming up, and would love to try one of the suits.  After much haggling, he decided to send me a suit.  To clarify prior to reading this, I'm not associated with Blueseventy in any way, didn't get paid for this, and won't be selling them any time soon either.  I think you'll understand, by reading this, that even if I were working for Blueseventy, it's hard to argue with the results of the suit.

To also be fair to both sides of the argument on these, and because we got SO much discussion the last time I wrote about, and promoted full-body suits, I recently posted probably the most detailed argument against the full body suits.  I'm not trying to be the answer, just a messenger of my own experience.

I've also stated that because of my recent swims, and my experience with the full-body suits, I wasn't planning to ever swim an important race in anything except a full-body suit.  So all the studies in the world, and arguments for or against, aren't going to sway my own personal feeling on this issue.  Everyone has his own opinion... this is mine.

My initial reasoning for wearing the full-body suit was a bit more than performance oriented.  I've been pretty open about how overweight I got, and it got to the point where it was embarrassing just hopping onto the blocks.  The full-body suit is the savior of male masters swimming, as the jammer has been to high school boys swimming.  I was hoping to cover as much as possible in the hope of APPEARING to be a shapely vessel traveling through the water.

Once I started swimming a bit more in them, I realized that it was also having an additional impact to my stroke, specifically my breaststroke.  Being a very flat type of breaststroker, with a big powerful kick, the faster I try to go, the larger my kick gets, and the more resistance I create.  No matter how much I tried to reduce my kick, my aggression as an athlete was overcoming my goal of minimizing the kick.  In other words, my body was winning out over my brain... or... dumb jock syndrome.  Once I put on a full-body suit, with everything connected, and a bit constricted, my kick became more narrow simply because the suit held it that way.  This was something that was NOT happening with the jammer, or even with the legs.  It seemed, for me, the more material, the narrower everything got (including my belly... a welcome side effect).

While I was extremely pleased with how I swam at Masters Nationals in Austin, I really didn't take much of a break.  I didn't increase my training, but rather just stayed in the water.  Over the past few weeks, we've been under some pretty strict deadlines on a couple projects, so time has been limited.  The day prior to the meet where I tested the Blueseventy, I filmed many swimmers under water for nearly 3 hours (myself under water kicking), plus spent 4-1/2 hours on deck, leading the breaststroke day at the Navy Swim Camp in Annapolis.  This means a lot of walking, yelling, and no down time.  In other words, my legs were getting pretty achy and I wasn't looking forward to swimming the 200 breaststroke the next morning.  In fact, the week was so busy that I had time to swim only twice with the longest practice being 1,500 long course.

Needless to say, driving to the University of Maryland on Friday morning, shaking my legs the entire way... I honestly wasn't looking forward to what was to come.

I got in a very long warm-up, probably close to 3,000 yards of slow, smooth swimming.  Just trying to shake loose any aches I had and trying to get used to the walls.  I listened to Roque and put on the suit a while before my race and headed to the warm-up pool again.  He told me I should swim with it before I raced with it.  "Get it wet" he said, so I made sure I did.  I couldn't resist drying it off again, but I knew I couldn't dry the inside so I figured I was safe.  I also felt a bit of water getting into my back.  Roque also told me this would happen, so I actually felt better experiencing everything he told me was going to happen (a true sign of a good teacher, thanks Roque).

I also had a plan to try something completely new with my stroke.  According to Eddie Reese and Brendan Hansen, who watched at Texas, my kick is good... so stay under longer on each stroke.  I figured, what the heck, I won't get as much air, but this race was a test, so use it as such.

I got in and really focused on long walls, and keeping my head down and gliding.  I could feel the water slipping into my back, but started counting my strokes during the race.  6 - then 7... and I realized, I was taking equal or fewer strokes than I took in Austin swimming yards, and this was meters.  I started to feel my forearms tightening at the 125 wall, and was thankful I only had 3 lengths left.

When I touched the wall on the finish, and glanced up to the clock, I was hoping I would be within a respectable measure of David Guthrie's World Record of 2:26.1, and the time I saw surprised me for the first time since I was 15 in a swim race:  2:22.6.  I waited for the clock to reset, or change.  I figured there was a missing light because I knew UMD had just ordered a beautiful new scoreboard.  The more I looked, the more confused I got.  Did I really just go 2:22?  No way.  I couldn't have gone that fast.  The last time I swam this race meters, I went 2:30 in December, and it HURT!  The 2:10 yards in Austin was a good race, and I was READY for that one.  I didn't do anything for this... except, change my stroke a bit, and put on a Blueseventy suit.

Did I feel "magical" in the suit?  No.  I actually didn't feel much different than I had in some of the other suits.  I wasn't floating on top of the water.  I was just going faster than I thought I was.

The rest of the meet went accordingly for a Blueseventy meet.  Fast swims in the 200 IM, the 100 breast, the 50 breast and the 100 IM.  It seemed that the longer the race, the larger the improvement.  I realized that, for me, the longer I'm able to stay under water, the more advantageous the suit is for me.

In my opinion, which is absolutely correct for ME, and no studies in the world can dispute what I feel about my own swimming, this suit has allowed me to swim faster than I'm supposed to.  I even felt guilty for a little while about breaking records of people who didn't have the same advantage that I had.  Then I remembered that I used to have some records too, that with rule changes, were wiped clean.  It almost felt like it was MY turn... then I didn't feel so bad.  Also knowing that very soon, all my friends would get their hands on one of these, and break all of my new records... then I'll have more things to shoot for as well.

Many of you know that, other than swimming, my favorite sport is Formula 1 racing.  It is arguably, the most technically advanced sport in the world.  Each season brings advancements, rule changes, tire-compound changes, so many little things that to the naked eye, we can barely notice, yet they spend MILLIONS on these subtle changes.  Swimming equipment technology has made some of these same huge advances in recent years.  Even if the scientists claim otherwise, we all know a lot of money has been spent, which we all understand needs to be recouped.  OK... we know how the system works.  While I'm not a fan of passing these costs on to parents of age-group swimmers, as a Masters swimmer, hey, these things smooth out all my soft edges, so let technology reign supreme.  If not for performance, then for vanity.

Finally, yes, it DOES come down to the swimmer, to the training, to the preparation.  While I don't feel I should have gone as fast as I did, as a former elite-level swimmer, I do have some knowledge about how my body should be traveling through the water.  Whatever adjustments I made while I was wearing the suit were there because I've relearned the feeling of the water over this past year.  I did that by swimming almost every day... if even a little.

Even the Blueseventy won't swim for me.  However, the 5 times I've used it in a race have been far more successful than I ever would have imagined going into the meet.  There's a new world of swimming rising.  We'll all witness it this summer in China, only this time, we ALL have the opportunity to take part.  We can all swim a little faster than we thought we should, and it's a lot of fun.  Of course, the more we use them, the more training we'll have to do to go faster.  Ultimately, this cycle will level out, and we'll be back to the usual grind of learning and training for improvement.  Until then... you can pry my BLUESEVENTY from my cold, shriveled, pruned fingers... of course, if you can get to the zipper.  Lil' help, please?






Archived Comments

Responded Jun 24, 2008 04:23PM

You are just THAT fast Glenn Old Man. Another good article. I might give one of these suits a try. I take it this was thin enough to be street legal in a masters meet. BlueSeventy makes racing wet suits as well for tri use, but these would be too buoyant for a swim meet to be legal.

Responded Jun 24, 2008 04:35PM

The suit I wore is the new competition swimming suit. It's been approved by FINA. You can download the FINA pdf at this link:

http://www.blueseventy.com/news/story/finaapproval/

In the enclosed documentation of the suit, they carefully outline many times, how the material is non-buoyant.

PUT IT ON PR!!! You'll be amazed... but remember what I said... the longer the race, the better. You're going to have to enter the 200. :)

Responded Jun 24, 2008 05:26PM

Glenn, I am impressed beyond comment with your SCM 200 BR. That may just be the impetus I need to do two things: get back in the water, and get myself a blueseventy. Congratulations on a fantastic swim. Just one question: why are you swimming with Arizona Masters? I'm guess the Smiths made you an offer you couldn't refuse. ;-)

Responded Jun 24, 2008 07:53PM

Tried web site but couldn't find out cost. Does anything have basic cost of suit?

Responded Jun 24, 2008 08:27PM

Responded Jun 25, 2008 10:37AM

Glenn, failed to mention that his 200 IM and the 100 breast were also WR's...Congratulations!!! Great swimming!

Responded Jun 25, 2008 12:43PM

Sorry, I believe that was a WR in the 400 IM not the 200 IM...more speed Glenn!

Does the suit float? Do you think that the new body suits offer any floatation? Is FINA approving suits that float, I guess is my question?

Responded Jun 25, 2008 12:44PM

Do you know what materials the suits are made from? e.g. 80% lycra, 5% nylon, 15% urethane...

Responded Jun 25, 2008 01:19PM

So...I see that the secret is out! Congrats Glenn! Do you feel that your technical changes had the largest impact? If so, what were the adjustments?
On another note...last weekend I spoke with one of the fastest swimmers in the world about his new laser suit. He told me "The only reason that I’m not wearing the bule70 suit is because of my Speedo contract”. That was big news for me! He said that it was much better for anything above a 100. Apparently, the laser has a higher level of compression but lower buoyancy level.
-I don’t want to get the individual in trouble, so don’t ask about the swimmer.-

Responded Jun 25, 2008 01:41PM

So do these feel like the other suits? (you reviewed TYR suits a while back) Does it add any warmth? Could you use it outside in a lake swim to get out of the wetsuit category?
Also, do you fit the same size in these as in their wetsuits?

Responded Jun 25, 2008 01:48PM

KJ... here's the link to the FINA approval and a bit more info on the suit I wore. I wasn't able to swim the 400 IM, so the WR was the 200 IM. I should have swum the 400 IM, but when filling out the meet entry, I was sane, clicked the 100 IM instead of the 400 IM. Even though I'm not very good in the 100, one usually never purposely OPTS for the 400. :) The suit doesn't float, as I said in the article, I didn't feel higher, but when I was under, I was really maintaining the speed. I think it's the slickness of it. Advice is... STAY UNDER.

http://www.blueseventy.com/products/detail/pointzero3plus/

JB. Yes on the Smith's offer for swimming for AZ. Basically, it was... swim with us and we'll try to break some records. The pressure of letting them down was enough incentive to train. Have you seen the size of those guys? I didn't want to disappoint them. :) You'll have so much fun with this thing, and so much of the times will be rewritten... even if we know it's a bit artificial... rules are rules, and as long as we're within them, why not?

Delifus. The technical changes were subtle, but something I probably needed to do anyway. The reason I hadn't incorporated them into my swims at Masters Nats were because I never like to experiment when I WANT to win. I wanted to stick with what I knew, and if I got beat, so be it, but it wouldn't be because I experimented and failed at my major meet. I have been afraid of staying under and taking advantage of my kick, because I DO so enjoy breathing... and if I stay too long, I just don't get enough air.

Having not tried the LZR, I don't know how it compares with the Blueseventy. I do know the blue70 is less expensive, and Roque tells me it'll last about 40 swims. It seems like a much more economical alternative for most people as well. No worries on not mentioning the swimmer, I can't tell you how many phone calls I've gotten from coaches with swimmers in the meet next week. It's got to be so scary for them, and I take the responsibility of offering this advice to them VERY seriously. They HAVE to experiment with the suits PRIOR to the race... and at RACE speed. As I stated my reasons for NOT experimenting at Masters Nationals, Olympic Trials are only 1 BILLION times more important. Experimentation is NOT a good thing.

I'm sure Roque is VERY busy right now.

Edited Jun 26, 2008 02:20PM
Responded Jun 25, 2008 03:49PM

Hey David... we must have posted at the same time. I'm not much of a wetsuit guy and all questions on sizing should be directed to Roque or the Blueseventy website. I thought mine was a bit big, but it's what Roque thought I should be wearing. Here's a link to the sizing chart:

http://www.blueseventy.com/docs/sizechart_pz3.gif

As far as warmth is concerned. I wouldn't say it's going to have a lot of insulation, but anything covering your skin is going to be better than nothing.

Responded Jun 26, 2008 03:33AM

After looking at the website and looking for their fabric source, I believe that blue70 is using Yamamoto Rubber (0.13 sg with 0.032 drag coefficient). The skin friction is approximately 50 times less than human skin...therefore, stay underwater to maximize the effect...you're right.

First off, specific gravity is how heavy something is compared to water (a density ratio with water). Therefore, the specific gravity of water is 1.0, whereas dried woods might have a specific gravity of 0.4 and therefore, float in water. Your inflated rubber raft would have a very low specific gravity (total weight / volume = density).

However, there is a still a story to tell on buoyancy. Athletic men usually have specific weights around 1.05-1.15 (Cowgill, 11/57 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition -- ok, it's the first thing I came across). This is why some lean swimmers can't float without full lungs during heavy training volumes. How much weight does a 170 lb man with a specific gravity of 1.1 have to carry in the pool?...(1.1-1.0) x 170 lbs = 17 lbs (the water carry's everything below 1.0 specific gravity. Now the fun part. If that same man would wear 1 lb of 0.13 specific gravity rubber (Yamamoto), I believe it would less his 17 lb water weight by almost 8 lbs (1/0.13). Now, if his body were half out of the water it would only lessen by about 4 lbs. However, he will ride higher in the water and carry a lower cross section...and last time I checked each 1% on 50 seconds is about 0.5 seconds.

I think the total advantage of lower skin friction and smaller submerged profile while swimming would have a significant advantage...but then again, I would like to see some proof on this to confirm our hypothesis. I would believe all this only if every world record were broken this year, otherwise we need some more research.

One more thing, I think the LZR is going to get beat in China. FINA has opened the flood gates to better suits...and plenty of time to manufacture them.

Now I have just finished a long long 10 day road trip and am very tired so, I will have to check on these numbers when I am fully awake. You never know where a mind in a semi-catatonic state will lead ya.

Responded Jun 26, 2008 06:52AM

Way to go, Glenn! You make it look so easy.
BTW, Roque was the 1992 Olympic Trials champ. In 1988, Barrowman and Kirk Stackle represented us in Seoul in the 200 br.

Responded Jun 26, 2008 03:33PM

Glenn I am going to wear my speedo briefs in Oregon. My wife says it is obscene. Is it FINA approved?

I look like speedo man when I wear it.

Responded Jun 26, 2008 03:41PM

Thanks bigtoby. I fixed it, and talked to Roque today and apologized. He laughed and was excited somebody noticed my mess up.

Beautiful stuff George. Everyone's talking about a meet where we all only wear old speedos. I'm already going to be busy whatever weekend that is... just so I don't have to show my gut anymore. :)

Responded Jun 26, 2008 03:58PM

I will be at the - Long Course National Championships will be held August 14-17 at the Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center in Gresham, Oregon. It will be my first competition since 1998.

Responded Jun 26, 2008 05:29PM

Hey guys, please warn me of any upcoming "old Speedo" meets so I can at least leave out my contact lenses that day - ha,ha.

Responded Jun 26, 2008 07:19PM

Now what fun would it be if everything was blurry? :)

Responded Jun 28, 2008 10:32PM

Best of luck, George! I swam the 1,650 and the 400 IM at the short-course nationals in Austin after being out of the water since 2004. That was my 2nd swim meet in 20 years. It hurt but it was fun.

Responded Jun 29, 2008 01:38AM

Thanks, Glenn. Just purchased a pointzero3 yesterday, tried it out in practice, and it felt great - and faster, especially for the dive and pulldown (underwater?). Just started competing this year after 44 years of no swimming. Look forward to Mt. Hood and besides any extra speed I get out of the suit, it sure looks good around the stomach. Thanks, FB2

Responded Jun 29, 2008 10:57AM

Hi FB2. You might want to check with customer service at Blue Seventy. When I inquired which model to buy for pool competitions -- the Nero Comp or the Pointzero -- I was told to go with the Nero Comp.

Responded Jun 29, 2008 01:13PM

Hmmmm... I used a pointzero3. Interesting.

Responded Jun 29, 2008 03:33PM

hey glenn
congratulations on your swims and thanks for this post
what were your times and splits on your races
Ande Rasmussen

Responded Jun 29, 2008 08:47PM

Hey Ande. Thanks, and I've heard you've had some pretty smoking races since masters nats as well.

Here are the splits:
200 breast - 32.4 - 35.5 - 37.0 - 37.6
200 IM - 29.0 - 35.5 - 37.4 - 31.4
100 breast - 31.1 - 34.6

Did you get one of the suits yet?

Responded Jun 30, 2008 02:44PM

HI Barbara: Too late for me to change models. And, surely can't afford another one. Was glad to see that Mr. Mills swam in a pointzero3 model. Wonder if there are any of these being used at the Trials?

Responded Jun 30, 2008 02:56PM

One of the men finalists had one on last night...Glenn, help me out here...lane 8 of the 400 free?

Responded Jun 30, 2008 03:40PM

Didn't see it... sorry. I mean, I saw the race, but I must have been packing for MY trip out.

Responded Jul 01, 2008 03:18PM

Glenn,

I never was a big believer on the previous generations of suits we've seen. Personally, all my best times (breaststroke) in recent history (within the last six or seven years as a masters swimmer) were done with the regular speedo brief... and I tried them all.

I always felt, specifically with the full leg suit, that my range of motion was restricted. As a fellow breaststroker (not quite your caliber) I always felt I was getting less out of each kick with these suits. Unlike you, I have a pretty wide kick... generally for me, the larger the kick, the more power I get -- the higher up out of the water I get -- the faster I go. A simple relationship. I never felt ths suits helped me in that respect. Although I would often squeeze into one for a sprint freestyle or IM race, the results were never dramatic... generally pretty comparable results between the different pricey suits and my standard $30 speedo aquablade. The math was simple... save my money.

Having said that... I just bought one. :) After watching Roque at Austin and then hearing your story -- I gotta try this!!!

Responded Jul 03, 2008 12:42AM

Glenn: Question on the pointzero3. First swim was great but second time around it felt like small amount of water was between skin and inside of suit. Squeezed it out by pushing it down and out leg holes. Also noticed small bubbles coming out of suit after practicing starts and then stopping after pull-down. Should I be concerned or is this the way the suit works?

Also, I saw two of the blueseventies at trials last night but wasn't able to get name of swimmers.


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