MSF testing stinger suits

loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
edited April 2014 in General Discussion
Some weeks @Jamie raised the issue of stinger suits again in light of his upcoming epic swim, (here's the discussion).

@Jamie, @evmo and I discussed it, and (I intended to post this weeks ago!) we are proposing that MSF do some tests on (at least one) stinger suit and come to a transparent determination of and for the members here and extension the sport at large.

Part of the stinger suit issue has been that most of us are simply not familiar with them, nor have even seen one. For cold water swimmers we can't get over the comparison with wetsuits. Any existing judgement seems, correctly or otherwise, to be based on individual's perceptions and possibly manufacturer's advertising and bumpf. It seems we haven;'t really put this issue to rest.

We don't have a complex (or any really) current plan. @Jamie hopes he will be able to source a suit from Finis, (who have long been one of his sponsors), that we can use. Since we'll likely only have one male suit, @evmo will take charge of it and hand it off to some of you that it will fit and want to get involved, and use the central location of Aquatic Park and all you local SF swimmers to do whatever testing (buoyancy is easy, speed and heat retention will require more) you deem necessary.

Results of tests to be published here, and possibly a committee to decide the outcome and update the rules as appropriate.


  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    I would think, if someone had contacts with the right lab somewhere, that buoyancy, heat condutivity, and hydrodynamic properties shouldn't be hard things to test. Subjective tests by swimmers are not all bad, but that introduces pretty cloudy "data".

    Does anyone here work at a lab that can test any of these things, or know someone who does?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I agree, independent lab testing would be great. All that needs is money and spare suits to test. I'm not sure any suit company is going to hand over suits to us to test outside of their control and ability to shape their message, when they don't know what the testing procedure might be.

    While subjective testing is by definition fuzzy, it's also something that has been missing from this issue. I put a lot of faith in the opinions of people I trust. One, five or ten reputable swimmers giving opinions based on personal experience is better than what we've currently got, I think, which is very little. If we only have one suit, than a bunch of swimmers with nothing to gain doing some swimming in it, will give us a good snapshot.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2014
    This is not anything resembling an empirically rigorous test, and is not intended as such. More information, more data points (however anecdotal) are better than less information, less data.

    @Jamie's points about stinger suits (see this thread) - remain in force: namely:
    - "Stinger suits" are currently too vague as a concept. What material? What thickness? How much coverage? Etc.
    - A full-body (or near full-body) dark-colored stinger suits would seem, purely on the face of it, to have heat-retentive qualities in the sun.

    Stinger suits were not listed as Standard Equipment in either v1.0 or v1.1 of the MSF Rules. But it was left ill-defined enough that someone could conceivably wear one and still claim an "unassisted" swim.

    This issue needs to be clarified in the Rules, regardless of the insights gained from this test. The test won't be a deciding factor, merely informative and interesting.
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    @loneswimmer - I agree, anecdotal evidence from a trusted source is indeed an improvement over the current information on the table. I didn't think about the marketing aspects of it, though.
  • smithsmith Huntsville, AlabamaSenior Member
    edited April 2014
    A stinger suit, or any attire that increases coverage, has the potential to benefit a swimmer in 5 ways that I can think of (disregarding any psycological boost). They are, in no particular order:
    Compression (reducing fatigue, promoting muscle recovery)
    Protection (form the elements and critters)
    Heat Retention
    Improved coefficient of friction

    Adopting the stinger suit as standard equipment will open the flood gate of development wheras manufacturers will satisfy those benefits that appear to offer no performance advantage while pushing the boundries of those that clearly do.

    One needs only to compare the ill fitting, off the shelf suit that Penny donned herself to the snug, custom made suit requiring the assistence of support crew that DN used to see the direction this is heading.

    Compression is a major issue.

    A relatively tight stinger suit will add compression, thus improving muscle performance.

    Keep moving forward.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2014
    Niek wrote:
    Those four reasons...
    are enough reasons to dis-allow it as standard suit. One of those four should be enough let alone four.
    Niek, stinger suits are not - and have never been - "standard" according to MSF Rules.
  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    I am not a swimming historian by any means, but it seems to me that we use goggles, cap, feeds and swimsuits because in one shape or another that is all the pioneers of the sport used. Technology has advanced for each, but there haven’t been additions to the equipment list. Again, I am no historian, but I don’t believe the suits have been about protection – I believe they simply met the decency standards for the time.

    About five hours into my EC swim I was dodging jellies. One got me on the left shoulder. While I was distracted by that pain, I ran smack into another one that hit me in my face (lips and forehead mostly), across both shoulders and my chest. It was no box jelly, but it was blinding pain. I spun in the water out of control – even the Observer Report stated that I did summersaults in the water. My face swelled (no permanent scars, but considering the location, maybe scars would be an improvement). Fear and pain made that a defining moment in the swim. A stinger suit and mask would have been an assistance.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2014
    Niek wrote:
    Such an odd article. Moreso because included in the original post, but subsequently deleted, was the following statement:
    Now another high-profile swimmer, American Jamie Patrick, will attempt an unprecedented crossing of Lake Michigan called the Great Lake Swim in August 2014. Patrick may also use a stinger suit produced by FINIS, although it has not been determined yet.

    Upon contacting himself for comment, Morrison offered the following thought: "If Steve was under the impression that Jamie would be wearing a stinger suit... in Lake Michigan... why wouldn't he just contact him to find out for sure?"

    (Adopting the DNOWS house-style third-person self-referential.)

    Morrison added, "Signing off for now. Good night and good luck."
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    The few minutes I spent Bing'ing on athletic compression gear tends to suggest that it has little to no impact on performance though apparently some studies suggest it can help with recovery, I'm not sure that is going to assist during a swim. At least one alleged benefit (increasing blood circulation to extremities) would actually be counter productive in a cold water swim.

    Does anyone have good evidence that compression is actually an advantage? - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    edited April 2014
    Niek wrote:
    It was all about compression at the start.
    I don't think I am convinced on this.

    The technology of the racing suits was driven by and developed for elite swimmers who are not exactly known for having the "lumps, bumps" referenced in the article.

    The drag reducing fabrics used are another matter altogether... - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I remember reading a paper on the Speedo first generation (was it called sharkskin?)textile jammers years ago, before the fuller suits, analysing the actual performance effect and it was entirely based on drag reduction. The paper even specified that drag reduction was only effective for 20 minutes and that only when you put on a dry suit.

Sign In or Register to comment.