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Winter wetsuit
GEAR,  Product Reviews

Ready for winter swim training

A newbie to the world of open water swimming events, digital journalist Abi Whyte is looking forward to training throughout winter in the Orca Zeal Thermal Openwater Wetsuit

I’m new to distance swimming, having completed my first open-water mile in July, and signed up for a 4-mile river swim next summer. I’m also considering entering my first triathlon next year. I don’t mind admitting that outdoor swimming events are something I’m very nervous about, and I’m keen to keep up my open water training as much as possible, even with winter just around the corner.

Most of my outdoor swimming has been in a swimsuit, so I thought training in a wetsuit might take some getting used to. I’ve heard lots of off-putting stories about ill-fitting wetsuits that restrict arm movement, and sudden leakages that make cold-water shock all the more… shocking! But I have to say, my transition from swimsuit to wetsuit has been instant with the Orca Zeal Thermal Openwater Wetsuit.

Heat retention and flexibility

This thermal wetsuit is a game-changer when it comes to winter swimming. Considering the layering of the wetsuit – featuring a thermal inner lining and high-thickness panels for buoyancy – I was surprised by how flexible and elastic the wetsuit felt. My stroke (my preference being head-down breaststroke) felt completely free and unhindered. It was like wearing a second skin.

Water stays out

Previous wetsuits I’ve tried swimming in always let in quite a bit of water, but I’ve noticed the Orca wetsuit is a safe bet when it comes to protection from leakage. Thanks to the sealing technology and the “batwing” layer of neoprene (which prevents water from entering the zipper and neck area) there was minimal ingress and I stayed warm and buoyant throughout my swim, gliding through my lengths with ease. I felt perfectly comfortable to stay in the water longer than I usually would this time of year.

Coupled with the Orca neoprene hood while swimming head-down breaststroke, this wetsuit made me feel warm, comfortable and insulated for the duration of my lake session, and I’m thrilled I’ll be able to keep up my open water training throughout winter in preparation for some exciting swim events next year. 

Photos: @lisapearn_artist

Written in partnership with Orca

Orca Zeal Thermal Women Openwater Wetsuit, £449, orca.com

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.