The Importance of Swim Technique
We have noticed a stark difference between beginner swimmers, and swimmers who do not work on improving their stroke mechanics & technique, compared to intermediate and advanced swimmers, including more novice swimmers who are actively working on improving technique or have a swimming background where they have already honed an efficient stroke. Swimming more efficiently, as well as faster, is primarily about overcoming the forces of drag created by water which is 800 times denser than air. In order to do this, the swimmer must improve their technique. The basis of a faster, more efficient swim starts with your stroke mechanics.
Technique and stroke mechanics are the primary driver between the design of the Fusion and the Reaction. The Reaction is specifically designed to compliment and enhance efficient stroke mechanics whereas the Fusion is designed to provide a flexible stroke with buoyancy and warmth. Design and construction is the key difference between these two suits.
The main aspects of your swim form that come into play when looking at the Reaction and Fusion wetsuits are Body Position, Body Rotation and Coordination. A swimmer with less training on form will often allow their hips and legs to sink in the water, while swimming flat with little hip rotation. In addition, there is often little connection between the movement of each arm. The more advanced swimmer, who has honed an efficient stroke, is likely to drive that connection through more pronounced body rotation at the hips, and timing of the glide and pull in their arms to more efficiently move through the water.
Keep these key swim technique concepts in mind as we detail how the Reaction has been engineered to enhance your swim form.
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Enhancing Natural Rotation
Compare the Fusion and the Reaction at the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) aka the front hip bones. The Fusion wetsuit is made with 5mm neoprene throughout this whole area in order to aid in lifting the hips of a less experienced swimmer. In the Reaction, the 5mm neoprene has been cut back so that it routes beneath and inside (towards the midline of the body), and the ASIS area is covered by 3mm neoprene.
For a swimmer who is creating rotation through their hips and core, the Reaction will accentuate this movement through the change in buoyancy between the 5 and 3mm neoprene. 3mm is less buoyant than 5mm, which means the suit will not "fight" against your movement as you rotate. A swimmer with little to no hip rotation, or drive, will likely not notice much difference as both suits offer enough buoyancy to lift sinking hips and keep you higher in the water. The more efficient swimmer with a strong hip drive, will quickly feel the freedom of movement created by this different patterning as the Reaction does not resist their swim mechanics.
Increased Shoulder Flexibility
The Reaction is our first suit to connect the shoulders through a single piece shoulder design. In 2022 we completely redesigned the Reaction wetsuit and the outcome has been so successful that it is influencing the design of future Helix wetsuits. By removing the seams across the center of the upper chest, we further increases the flexibility and comfort of the suit which enhances the natural feel of swimming. Swimmers working on efficient swimming mechanics will notice the additional stretch and freedom throughout their entire stroke with more feel for the connection between your arms as you pull and glide through the water. A less efficient swimmer will notice the increased flexibility, but may not feel the difference as much as one who is focused on the connection and mechanics of their stroke.
In addition, the Reaction uses a superior, more stretchy jersey lining than the Fusion which further increases the flexibility of the neoprene. This is important for swimmers covering more distance as any resistance in a wetsuit will become more pronounced as your body fatigues. If you're regularly swimming longer distances, more than a mile, the increased flexibility of the Reaction will be more beneficial to you.
Reactive Stretch Technology (RST)
Increasing the distance gained with every stroke is the goal of every efficient swimmer. If you can glide further and recover more quickly during your stroke, you can swim faster and longer. The advanced patterning of the Reaction further accentuates your hip rotation efficiency with strategic RST panels along your back, stretching from your hip up to your shoulders. These panels are crafted from 2mm neoprene for increased flexibility. Compare that to the back panels in the fusion which are 3mm. This small difference in thickness provides a bit more buoyancy in the Fusion, aiding a novice swimmer who needs the extra floatation, and more flexibility in the Reaction. More flexibility means more reach without any added effort for more distance gained per stroke. With less effort to gain that distance in the Reaction than the Fusion, the efficient swimmer will notice the boost in speed gained in the Reaction.
The thinner back panels in the Reaction also come into play during the recovery portion of your stroke allowing for a quicker return with less resistance. This flexibility allows the efficient swimmer to maintain a higher stroke rate, which, when paired with increased distance per stroke, simply equals more speed.
The design and construction differences between the Fusion and Reaction are critical for the swimmer who is working on, or has an efficient swim technique. Swimmers with good extension, stroke rate, and body rotation will love the feel of freedom swimming in the Reaction, and will find they swim faster and can swim further because of expending less energy moving inside the neoprene.
While the Reaction will not hinder a less efficient, or novice, swimmer in any way, they are unlikely to benefit from the advanced patterning in the Reaction and would be served well by the more affordable Fusion. The Fusion will still aid in a faster, more efficient swim for that person by lifting the body with the buoyancy of the neoprene. Making the decision between the Reaction and the Fusion comes down to the type of swimmer you are (or are working to become), the distance you swim, and your budget.
SHOP THE FUSION WETSUIT:
The Fusion is ideal for a more novice swimmer, or someone who is not actively working on improving form and technique, or swimming long distances. The advancements in the Reaction will not be noticeable to someone without a more efficient swim form.
SHOP THE REACTION WETSUIT:
The Reaction is absolutely the choice if you are swimming regularly longer distances of a mile or more. If you're an efficient swimmer with quality swim form, or are actively working to improving your form this is your best choice. Remember - the Reaction is designed to react to your efforts and return more speed than ever before.