Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Saved by China
Like many people, I've been watching oodles of Olympics. In addition to the random sports that I'd catch like table tennis and weightlifting, I was seeking out a few key sports: last week was swimming and rowing, the weekend into early this week was triathlon, and the last two nights have been open water swimming.
With all that swimming, I'm sure you noticed the super swim suits from Speedo (how could you not?). What you may not have noticed is the few other suits from other brands: TYR, Blue Seventy, Finis, and -- I think -- Arena. The Blue Seventy suit is the interesting one of the also-rans.
Blue Seventy started as a triathlon wetsuit company. Recently, they branched into "swimskins" -- a wetsuit-like suit that isn't anywhere near as buoyant and is designed for "non-wetsuit" events. It's FINA (the swimming governing body)-approved, and, as such, it's in the Olympics for those athletes that seemingly either couldn't get their hands on a Speedo LZR, or wanted to try something different to stand out.
In open water swimming (Olympic debut this year!), the race is a 10k. Blue Seventy, with their roots in triathlon, is the industry leader here, not Speedo.
One of the other wetsuit companies that also makes a swimskin is Xterra. I think there's a few of that companies' suits in the open water race. Since Blue Seventy is the Speedo of open water swimming, that makes Xterra the Blue Seventy in the sport. Ummm... yeah, that sort of makes sense.
To make a long story even longer, Xterra is offering a 50% discount on their entire product line, including their swimskin. It's a cool suit, and, with all the Olympians looking and going super fast, my gear lust (which I usually can keep under control) started to get the best of me.
I had the "purchase" screen up on my computer. My mouse was hovering over the button. Never mind that the Xterra suit is only designed for open water swimming -- it's so rigid and tight in the back that you can't bend over (that means no pool swimming: flip turns and dives are out) -- it's super cool and could genuinely give me a speed boost in those few events I do that don't allow a wetsuit. Never mind that I probably wouldn't use it for over a year. Never mind that, even at 50% off, it's still well over $100.
I happen to own an Xterra wetsuit that I bought in a similar sale this past spring. For reasons I can't explain, I went and put it on (I've yet to actually swim in it -- Texas is a little hot and the Passaic is a little gross in an illness-via-bacteria/virus/pollution-sort-of-way). After almost passing out (who stands around in a fully enclosed suit of neoprene in the middle of the summer inside a not particularly well-ventilated apartment? Me, of course.), I took the suit off and admired it's coolness.
It was then that I noticed where Xterra has their suits produced and that was the final push I needed to realize it was a bad purchase for me. So, thank you China for saving me $125+ on something I'd probably never wear and want a new version of in a year anyway.
It's still cool though.