Why Wetsuit Design Matters

By ROKA | Aug. 01, 2019, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

Sponsored Content by ROKA

 ROKA Athlete 

 

Triathlon technology progresses at a mindboggling rate. For a sport where seconds can be the difference between a spot on the podium or a Kona-qualifying finish, every performance advantage is critical. Most triathletes focus on the bike leg when it comes to gear—not only is it, the longest of the three disciplines, but it requires the right combination of aerodynamics and comfort (and the most moving parts), meaning technological advances generally yield the most bang for your buck.


But take a step and consider the other two disciplines, and it’s likely your wetsuit is your next biggest investment. If you’ve been around the sport for a while, you know how far wetsuit technology has come—the days of essentially using an all-purpose surfing-turned-swimming wetsuit are long gone.


Relatively recently, wetsuit manufacturers have paired softer, more pliable neoprene panels with thinner neoprene panels in strategic areas as a solution to help alleviate the shoulder restriction usually associated with swimming in a wetsuit. ROKA championed this strategy with their debut Maverick Pro wetsuit in 2013, a breakout product celebrated by everyone from age-groupers to professional triathletes.


Despite finding immediate success, ROKA doubled down and went back to the drawing board, taking a critical look at their already-innovative wetsuit design. It resulted in their proprietary, groundbreaking and now patented ARMS-UP technology—the biggest breakthrough in triathlon product design since they designed their first wetsuit around a buoyant centerline.


Of course, all brands make promises around their product quality, but what is ARMS-UP technology really, and why does it matter for the average triathlete?


Instead of designing their wetsuits with the arms set traditionally alongside the body (like a tshirt), ROKA flipped the script and designed the wetsuit with the arms oriented above the head, like in the catch phase of the freestyle swim stroke. Ergonomically-positioned neoprene panels set in the “up” position, paired with top-shelf textile liners, optimize the shoulder region for not only mobility and stretch, but also support and comfort.

It’s a simple, intuitive design that was noticed once their product development team stopped iterating off the original wetsuit design of yesteryear and instead focused on common complaints from swimmers. The differences in comfort and mobility were noticeable, even on early prototypes.


This natural design virtually eliminates shoulder restriction, an issue that has plagued swimmers and triathletes for decades. No longer do triathletes have to adjust their freestyle stroke to account for tightness in the shoulders and neck — ROKA’s ARMS-UP technology promotes more natural mechanics through every stage of the swim stroke, from the “catch” where the hand enters the water through the pull, exit and recovery stages.

Less restriction means you’ll be able to swim faster and longer with less energy and less shoulder strain. It’s mobility to the nth degree, which has attracted attention from the likes of seven-time triathlon World Champion Javier Gómez Noya and 2018 Kona swim course record holder Lucy Charles.


ROKA unveiled their revolutionary ARMS-UP technology in the Maverick X in 2016. Fast forward to today, and this technology is still available in their pro-model Maverick X, but it’s trickled down through their entire sleeved wetsuit line, including their entry-level Maverick Comp II, not to mention their entire line of swimskins and race apparel.


Learn more about ROKA’s line of performance wetsuits featuring ARMS-UP technology and follow @ROKA on Instagram.