Richard Murray, SA’s triathlon star lined up at the Hamburg ITU, wearing a new wetsuit brand. Zone 3 it was. At his level every second counts, and as the saying goes: “In triathlon you won’t win it in the swim, but you can lose it in the swim”. Richard had one of his best swims ever, and curiosity called. The Zone3 Vanquish is Richard’s weapon of choice and since swimming is most triathletes’ nemesis it would be vital to know if this suit offers more than other wetsuits. After all, it got the ‘BEST IN CLASS’ award for 2016 from the USA based TRIATHLETE magazine.
For starters, if looks was everything, the Vanquish would make a winner out of every athlete. It looks stunning. Just add a cape and you would look like Superman’s mean brother. It gets full marks for looks.
Let’s jump ahead: for the test I took it to an open air pool, because I believe a controlled environment delivers the best test results. I know exactly what I am capable of in this pool, having used many different wetsuit brands in it. As I kicked off, I was hoping to feel my legs kick “almost above water level” to know my draggy legs are optimally supported. It did not feel like that. I was a bit weary about the outcome, but pushed on to finish this continuous 1500 meter swim. The suit was the constant variable but fatigue, loss of form and my bad swim style would test this constant to the core. I just had to swim easy to keep this test within a moderate effort level. Fighting the water for a good result is a no-no anyway.
Back to tech stuff: panel thickness and its positioning determine a suit’s character. The Vanquish is quite radical in this regard. It varies from 1.5 mm over the shoulders and arms to 2 mm down to hip level, with a centred 5mm panel on the chest that acts like a roll bar for better rotation. From the hips down there are 3 variations of 5 mm panels for core support and lift, with thinner panels towards the ankles for a quick transition.
The wow factor of the Vanquish is the sensory catch panel on the fore arm. This is a thin waterproof latex panel that keeps you in touch with the feel of the water. You actually feel the flow and temperature of the water like a cool spot and that is exactly what Zone3 calls it: the cool spot.
As a bad swimmer, the weight of the suit bugged me. I need lots of rubber to lift me, especially my legs. The Vanquish is very light. Then I was reminded that the Aerodome material has layered-in air bubbles, and air has almost no weight, but lots of buoyancy.
Other tech features are called Silk-Fit inner lining, Aqua dynamic ‘SCS’ Nano coating, Pro Speed CuffsTM, and more. For the sake of a quick read review, this all means Zone3 put a lot of effort into this suit.
To draw things to a close: I swam and swam and swam. Finishing lap 60, I pressed my stop watch as quick as possible and lo and behold, I was looking at the fastest 1500 meters I have ever swam. I have been mulling the result round and round in my head. I can’t say I felt like a bullet, but the result tells a different story .
The Zone3 Vanquish gets a huge thumbs up. I know I did not stretch myself for a good outcome, and I got my best time in this suit. The next test will be a sea swim with buddies I know very well in terms of capability. How I manage to stay or not stay with them will be the closing chapter of this review. Based on the pool review, I’ll keep on swimming in the Zone3 Vanquish.
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Frank Smuts is 6 x SA Age group champion, represented his country 4 times in triathlon and duathlon, participated in 7 Ironmans, 10 Ironman 70.3’s with 3 podium placings. He also participated in 11343 local races. Approximately.