T1

(by Mark Montgomery 7.17.01) The publisher of this site having a non-objective relationship with T1, he asked me––as the first pro ever to test a Quintana Roo wetsuit (the company this publisher founded)––to test and write about the T1. Best to start with a little history.

In 1986 I was approached by a frustrated insurance salesman and part-time triathlete with a new wetsuit built strictly for swimming. I was a pro triathlete all through the ‘80s, and during this time we’d been using wetsuits for about a year and half. But these were just the suits we surfed in. They were heavy, loose fitting and cumbersome. Only if the water was really cold did we use them. It was assumed that they slowed you down. No one really knew then that they could be an advantage.

A bit reluctant––but with nothing to lose––I agreed to go to my pool and test out this new suit. It was smoothskin, closed cell, tight fitting, and buoyant. I donned it and took it out for a 500m spin. One look at the pace clock and I got out of the water told this suit's builder that I'd have every pro in the sport in one of these within two months. All I wanted in return was West Coast distribution rights and a suit for life. That year I sold over 1300 suits, and yes, virtually every pro in the sport was wearing one.

I continued to test Quintana Roo’s suits, trying to figure out what makes a wetsuit fast, and it is, and always has been, three things: buyoancy, fit (and flexibility), and hydrodynamics. It became quickly clear that the fullsuit––long arms and legs––was fastest, even though there was a lot of resistance to it in the beginning, because good swimmers felt faster in the long john.

Every wetsuit company in the business copied that suit, and it became the standard. From that point, all anybody could do was tweak the patterns a bit and wait for rubber makers to make higher quality rubber.

Then a few months ago the same fellow––still occasionally frustrated but long ago out of insurance––came to me with a new suit to try out. I'd been retired from triathlon for 5 years, but was racing in the lifeguard national series. I was going to come out of retirement and do a few triathlons, so I said what the hey.

I tried this new two-piece suit––the T1––in the pool first and it was the fastest I'd ever swam in. Not by a huge amount, but certainly measurable. I raced at the Wildflower and Lake Placid triathlons and had two of my best swims ever.

The T1 has a bottom that resembles a bib cycling tight. In fact, the long-legged bottom is called a "bibjohn" which is, I hear, a word T1 intends to trademark. It is easy to get on and off––easier than a standard fullsuit, because there is no zipper and therefore no limitations in restriction that a zipper imposes.

The top is called a "pullover" and is simply a 2mm-thick long-sleeve garment that pops over your head, can use a low neck (because, again, no zipper in the back) and overlaps the bibjohn by several inches. The "straps" on the bibjohn keep the bottom in place, and the close-fitting nature of a 2mm-thick top keeps it from riding up. No attachment necessary between the top and bottom––at least I didn't need one.

The T1 is not only fast, it totally eliminates the neck pull and shoulder restriction. Using the old fullsuits I always had to slow down my turnover to avoid shoulder fatigue, but with the T1 I can hold my normal pool turnover with no restriction. Because the suit has no pulling-down from the crotch, it is able to accommodate a very low neck, and there is no choking sensation as a result. The rubber is the most flexible I've ever used. I am told it is not any different than rubber used by the other best-quality suits, but the ability to use rubber only 2mm thick throughout the top of the T1 creates a sensation of unbelievable flexibility.

As for the transition, once I figured the "getting-out" secret, it was faster in transition than my one-piece suits.

At 45 years old my swim time at Wildflower––I used this half-Ironman race for my first open-water T1 swim test––would have put me in or close to the lead pro group. I’m a good swimmer, but probably not good enough to swim a time like this while breaking my own water and navigating through the slower swimmers who started in waves in front of me.

I really thought that there were no more jumps in wetsuit evolution to be made, but I was wrong. There is nothing like this suit. As with the first Quintana Roo, this design will be––must be––copied by every wetsuit manufacturer. Is it the fastest way to make a two-piece design? I don’t know. There are no others yet made, except for an older and different design I’ve never tested made by a Japanese company.

I don’t know how the two-piece wetsuit may yet evolve, but this current suit is better than any and all one-piece suits in existence, in my experience.