The $1,200 Wetsuit
A lot has been made of the Tyr Freak of Nature’s hefty price tag. It costs about 50 percent more than the second costliest suit on the market, and the price isn’t due to the slick six-pack abs painted on the stomach. It’s mostly due to the type of neoprene used to construct the Freak of Nature.
The entire wetsuit is built with Yamamoto #40 neoprene _ the most flexible wetsuit rubber _ and, as expected, the arms are extremely mobile. While it isn’t the only high-end suit with flexible arms, the Freak of Nature’s ability to flex and move with the entire body (not just with the shoulders) is completely unique.
Lance Armstrong swam in a Freak of Nature when he raced Xterra triathlon last fall because it “felt the most natural” of the suits he had tried. Our testers had a similar experience. The Freak of Nature’s shape is identical to the rest of Tyr’s line, but this suit fits differently than the others. The Yamamoto #40 neoprene torso conforms to the swimmer instead of compressing the body to match the suit. Although other suits have exceptionally flexible arms, the Freak of Nature has an unprecedented ability to mold to the swimmer, which erases potential imperfections in each individual fit.
Most wetsuits, including the Freak of Nature, have thin panels of neoprene under the armpit to minimize resistance against arm extension, but these slender segments aren’t as buoyant as the thicker panels at the center of the body. As a swimmer rotates onto his or her side to start a stroke, these thin panels are pressed into the water, causing a suit to become slightly less buoyant. The Freak of Nature counteracts this buoyancy issue with incredible efficiency. It has large patches of ultra-buoyant aerated neoprene _ neoprene with small, sealed pockets of air inside the rubber _ on the outer thighs and hips. These panels plunge into the water as the swimmer rolls onto his or her side and maximize buoyancy during this all-important phase of a swim stroke. As a result, the Freak of Nature kept testers at the surface of the water through an entire swim stroke without any bobbing.
So what does $1,200 buy you? A wetsuit that conforms to _ and moves naturally with _ the swimmer and promotes superior buoyancy through an entire stroke.