Posted in Swim
A woman adjusting her Orca wetsuit by the sea

What makes Orca's wetsuit so fast in the water? It's a question Wiggle's swim manager Suzannah Cranwell answers in this excellent guide by explaining the various technologies that Orca uses in order to create wetsuits that are fast, super lightweight and incredibly comfortable - #goodstuff.

Over the past few years, Orca has been working to create and develop a wetsuit material that will make you faster, simply by putting it on. This year, Orca has launched the result: a revolutionary super lightweight neoprene called “0.88 Free”. It offers the highest stretch and flexibility ever seen in a wetsuit and it feels incredible!

Orca has tested 0.88 Free extensively and they’re confident that when you zip up, you’ll be astounded at your performance. Here’s what you can expect:

Orca has combined 0.88 Free with its other market-leading fabric technologies to create a range leads the way in flexibility, buoyancy and warmth. But what is it about these fabrics that that make them so fast?

Introducing 0.88 Free for flexibility and warmth

As the name suggest, Orca’s 0.88 Free material is just 0.88 mm thick. Its flexibility means that it looks and feels delicate but it is deceptively robust, extremely warm and allows for an exceptional feeling for the water. Trust us, you’ll give up long before your Orca wetsuit does!

A list of statements to show the benefits of the new Orca material

Flexibility

0.88 Free is found in the arms and shoulders on the new Predator. The Alpha goes one step further, having 0.88 Free on the underarm and down the sides of your mid to lower back (latissimus dorsi). These are areas that need to be as flexible as possible so that can get a longer, more efficient stroke. Extra flexibility also means that you won’t be fighting to extend your arms, so you’ll enjoy reduced fatigue. Plus you’ll be able to speed up your stroke rate which is essential if you want to improve your times.

A woman preparing for a swim in Orca kit

Warmth

This material features a five-layer construction which means that it’s a highly effective insulator. To make it even warmer, Orca has added a patented heat reflective titanium coating. This is perfect to training on colder days, helping you to stick to your training plan and to lay the foundations for a successful racing season.

Introducing Exo-Lift for buoyancy

Your profile in the water seriously affects your performance. You need to ensure that your body is always in the most efficient kicking position so that you can swim faster and save energy. So, to keep your legs and hips at the right height in the water, you need buoyancy. “Exo-Lift” is Orca’s secret weapon for buoyancy. It’s found in the hip, quad and bum panel of the crème de la crème of the range: the Predator. Exo-Lift is a 4mm multi-layer material consisting of Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene with zero water absorption, giving you constant support throughout your swim.

A woman on a beach in an Orca wetsuit

Exo-Lift for advanced athletes

Orca makes Exo-Lift fabric even more buoyant by coating it with a layer of super-fast SCS Nano Ice, a coating that removes the need for a lining. A massive part of the Predator therefore comprises solely of water-repellent neoprene so water absorption is kept to zero and speed is set to maximum!

To further sing Exo-Lift’s praises, it also offers a unique stiffness in the legs which reduces inefficient kicking from the knees. Plus Orca has added extra panels to either side of the Exo-Lift front panel, to limit the extent to which you roll in the water. You’re basically kept in your most streamlined and efficient (and fastest) swimming position.

A swimmer in action wearing an Orca swimming cap

Exo-Lift for intermediate athletes

If you want to take your triathlon to the absolute highest level, Exo-Lift (found in the Predator) is for you. However, if you consider yourself to be more of an intermediate level then take a look at the new 3.8 and Sonar. There are men’s and women’s versions of each, to cater for the fact that men and women tend to lie differently in the water so they need more (or less) buoyancy.

Orca has pulled out plenty of stops to offer swimmers perfectly balanced buoyancy. But there are even more features! Hydrolite panels (in all of Orca’s wetsuits) are both really flexible and they’re coated with a SCS coating (Nano Ice, on the Predator) to keep water absorption at a minimum. This means that they’re easy to stretch and faster to remove during transition.