“Skins” swimmer goes rogue in an Orca Zeal Hi-Vis Openwater Wetsuit

Generally, I’m a “skins” swimmer even in the winter but having been hampered with injuries over the last 12 months resulting in a partial knee replacement, this year I’m considering donning a wetsuit to get my fitness levels up again and swim longer distances throughout the winter.

As I have access to a large number of wetsuits I thought I'd try the Orca Zeal HiVis Open Water Wetsuit as this suit is designed to give increased insulation and better sealing which would definitely be a benefit in the winter if you are wanting to stay in the water for longer.  It sparked a bit of interest at the lake I swim at, firstly as I never wear a wetsuit and secondly because a couple of people had been looking at the exact same wetsuit online and were happy that I could demonstrate it for them.

The Zeal has a traditional zip at the back but has an additional panel which covers the zipped area and goes over your head which is designed to stop water getting in through the zip and neck area – this does mean that you have to take your time to get into it as you have to get your body into essentially a tube rather than open wetsuit.   With the help of a friend I got in and then we had to figure out the batwing.

Batwing? I hear you say!  Yes, as I said before, there is a panel that covers the zip area which also has a head hole at the top.  I think I did this bit wrong, I pulled the batwing over the top of my head before zipping myself up.  The neck was quite tight but I decided to roll with it, zip myself up and get in to the water.  Instead of my normal acclimatisation process on entering the water I just got straight on with the swim. 

The big test for me and this suit was how much water entered the suit with the bat wing.  The answer to that was minimal.  There was no rush of cold water down the back, or front, and off I went for my swim. There are also 2 small holes at the base of the zip which allows any water to escape from the suit. I felt like I was gliding through the water and my time around the circuit was improved compared to my “skins” time

The aerodome technology in the hips and thighs lifted my legs into  a great position – this felt a bit strange as I felt slightly too buoyant  at first but actually my swimming line was much improved.  The shoulders were very flexible and I didn’t feel at all restricted - I didn’t have my normal shoulder or back pain during or after my swim either!

To get a comparison of the batwing vs non-batwing, I pulled the batwing back over my head for my second circuit and straight away there was water ingress.  I really didn’t think that I’d notice much of a difference but I did.  Again, I put the batwing back over my head and this time round it fitted into a much better position so I wonder if it’s best to zip up the suit first so that it is in position properly before pulling the batwing over the head and tucking into the neck of the suit.


Overall, considering I’m not a wetsuit swimmer normally, I found this to be a great suit.  The hi- visibility arms, legs and back are a lovely feature and the lifeguard on duty said I was really easy to spot even without a tow float!  Other swimmers were also able to see my arms and legs clearly.  Other features include a Restube attachment area so that you can easily attach your Restube to the suit and it also comes with a nice bag for storage. 

I have to say, I think I may be tempted to hire one for the winter which is something I thought I would never say.  It also comes in a thermal version too but not sure I’d need that for the swims that I currently do but, hey, never say never 😊

The Zeal is available in both mens and womens sizes on our website.  If you are unsure what size to choose why not book in for one of our free wetsuit fittings so we can assist you in selecting the right wetsuit for you

If you have any questions about the new Orca Zeal High-Viz or need help choosing a wetsuit then we would love to hear from you


Sporting Regards

Ali- Tri Wetsuit Hire



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