We are often asked about Orca Wetsuits at Ezi Sports. We have been a longtime supporter of the Orca brand which has been around for over 20 years. They know wetsuits. Many people do their research (online and asking friends) and decide that they are going to purchase an Orca Wetsuit but come to us with the question “Which One?”
Orca have 8 models to choose from which can be a little daunting at first, but they have done a great job guiding you to which wetsuit based on your style of swimming or need. They have also put out several videos, so you can see your style and then choose.
Before we look at the 3 swimming styles, the most basic wetsuit is called the Orca Open Water Wetsuit. This is perfect for someone getting into triathlons or wanting to extend their swim season in the cooler months. It is a simple bright wetsuit and is just over $200.
If you are more interested in improving your swim time or getting out of the water with more energy, then we need to look at your swimming style. There are 3 – Progressive, Natural or Total.
You are new to swimming and you still don’t feel completely comfortable in the water. You’re looking for a wetsuit that helps correct your position, because when your technique is less-than-polished, buoyancy becomes the most determining factor. This is especially true as you increase your swim distance to half or full Ironman. See the video below showing this style:
Orca has 3 wetsuits for this style of swimmer. The Orca S6 and the Orca S6 Sleeveless are a perfect entry level. They will keep your lower body raised and stable and with thinner (or no) coverage around the shoulders there is plenty of flexibility.
The Orca 3.8 is the top shelf progressive swimmer wetsuit – perfect for those longer distances. With side panels to help stability, this wetsuit will support you for many kilometres.
If you come from a swimming background or have a strong technique then you are a natural swimmer and able to maintain a correct position in the water - horizontal, elevated and hydrodynamic. For you, the focus should be maximum flexibility that lets you develop your skill, without changing your technique. See the video below showing this style:
The Orca Equip is the starting point for Natural Swimmers and the major reaction when people see/feel this one is how thin and flexible the shoulders and arms are. There is still good buoyancy for the waist and torso but the focus is on the shoulder.
The Orca Alpha is the top shelf for Natural Swimmers and this is the one that everyone looks at and feels the thickness of the arms. The arms are only .88mm ensuring maximum flexibility – more like a second skin while swimming. I remember that during one of my first swims in this one in the ocean I stopped because I thought the sleeves came off as I could barely feel them.
This swimmer is the balance between the two - you have good technique, but you sometimes make small mistakes related to your kicking technique. You should look for a wetsuit with maximum flexibility in the upper body and extra buoyancy that helps you achieve a more effective and hydrodynamic horizontal position. See the video below showing this style:
The Orca Sonar fits into this category – one of the best intermediate wetsuits on the market because it is one of the most versatile. Multi-panelled to ensure the balance between lower body correction and upper body flexibility.
The top Shelf Predator has everything. It’s like a combination of the Alpha with the .88mm arms for flexibility and the buoyancy of the 3.8 – great stability for the lower body.
Triathletes rarely win the race in the swim, so the focus is always on having a good swim time and getting out of the water feeling ready to burn up the road on the bike. What I like most about the Orca range is that they start with the swimmer – figure out your style and then zero in to a couple of options.
After that it comes down to budget and where you want to be with your swimming. Make a correct choice and your bike and run will thank you.
About the author
Andrew Lang has been competing in triathlons for over 20 years and all distances from Sprint all the way up to completing 19 Ironman triathlons. Although he is a middle to back of the pack triathlete he has been fortunate to race at 2 Ironman 70.3 World Championships and the Ironman World Champions at Kona. Since 2009, Andrew has co-owned and operated Ezi Sports – the largest online triathlon store in Australia. He gets to field test and evaluate most new products on the market as well as help thousands of athletes with their sport gear needs.