Roka Maverick Pro Fullsuit
Credit: Courtesy Roka

Wetsuits are more than a warm layer when it comes to distance swimming. This is a flotation device that keeps your body in prime position for a long, strong swim. And while any sort of buoyancy is going to help with stroke efficiency, the thick full-body suits can also get in the way — restricting arm motion, limiting the body roll, or just being a pain to get on and off. The latest high-end wetsuits don't do this. Companies have shed fabric wherever possible, keeping buoyancy, while improving aerodynamics, movement, and comfort. Roka's Maverick Pro, the company's top of the line wetsuits (for $800), is the perfect case.

We tested the Roka in the Princeton 70.3 race, and during the 1.2-mile swim, the suit felt just like the performance enhancing gear it was built to be. For a freestyle stroke (and a brief backstroke as we made our way to the start line), there was no pinching, pulling, or resistance. The suit in fact encouraged good form, thanks to a buoyant strip down the front of the suit that allowed for (and, we felt, helped to exaggerate) good form. The comfort in the water helped push us to a personal best — by a whopping five minutes over our time in the pool without a suit. For the serious competitor, it's an advantage that's worth the price. [$800; rokasports.com]