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Kit review: LOMO Challenger swimming wetsuit

Written by Fiona

July 30 2014

The G-Force reviews a LOMO Challenger wetsuit. LOMO swimming wetsuits have been highly rated as great value for money.

Before the start of the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon. Pic credit: Marc Turner

Before the start of the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon. Pic credit: Marc Turner

The G-Force writes: Fi and I had decided to enter the Artemis Great Kindrochit  Quadrathon, which was a great challenge to work towards, but with only day’s experience of open water swimming I had to get training. The event includes a 1350m swim across one of Scotland’s coldest lochs, Loch Tay.

I needed a wetsuit and because I was not being sure how I would take to open water swimming I didn’t want to break the bank. The LOMO Challenger rrps at £89 and I was told it has many features of more expensive brand names yet still works a treat.

The LOMO Challenger features include:

  • Ultra flexible Matsuda neoprene
  • Ultra smooth outer neoprene skin
  • 3mm chest panel for warmth and buoyancy
  • 2mm arm, leg and back panels for maximum flexibility
  • 1.5mm Megastretch underarm panel with no direct seam underarm
  • Anatomically shaped panels for maximum movement flexibility
  • YKK back zip to help with speedy entry and exit from the suit
  • Internally blind stitched throughout
  • Glued seams
  • Wrist traction panels.

This being my first wetsuit there was a learning curve.  It took two attempts to get the size right. The first time I went for comfort. I am usually a medium so I took the medium wetsuit because it felt comfortable. But I was advised that a wetsuit should not be so easy to get into so I returned to the Glasgow LOMO shop to try another.

The small size felt tight but it is apparently meant to be snug so I went with that. Being so snug meant that all air pockets and gaps would be eliminated which is important because these would fill with water when swimming and slow me down.

There is also a knack to getting out of the wetsuit. My first attempt took about 10 minutes of hard graft leaving me more exhausted than the actual swim but once Fi had put me straight on the correct method it took just seconds.

I found the additional buoyancy of the wetsuit really made a difference to my swimming. It held me far higher in the water and stopped my legs from dragging. This makes for quicker more efficient swimming and adds to the feeling of freedom that you get from swimming in a loch as opposed to a pool. It really is an experience worth doing if you’ve never tried it.

I loved the feeling that this was a natural thing to do and far nicer than swimming lengths in a chlorinated pool. It’s similar to the difference between running on a treadmill to running outdoors.

That said it’s not for all. Fi has gritted her teeth every time we went open water swimming due to the thought there could be a fish in the water or any other creature hiding in the depths.

On the day of our quadrathlon event my swim across Loch Tay went far better than expected as it’s my weakest discipline out of the four we had to do. I was only a few minutes behind Fi, which felt great.

As I swam across Loch Tay I felt areas of cold and milder temperatures in the water but this didn’t cause a problem because the wetsuit nicely insulated me.

I also found I had the right amount of freedom of movement for swimming freestyle. The suit does feel tight but not around the shoulders where it feels really flexible.

As a first suit I would recommend the LOMO challenger. For me this would be mostly due to cost. I know I will get good use from this as I enjoy the sport and because the suit fits well and keeps out the cold there is no reason for me to upgrade it to a more expensive brand.

See LOMO wetsuits. Their shop is in Glasgow but they also sell on-line.

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