Tuesday, December 09, 2008

'TYR Tracer Light' swimsuit review

Usually in a product review the conclusions are posted at the end of the page, but since I hate that when I just want a fast answer, I will post my conclusions here at the top of the page and then explain my reasoning below.

The TYR Tracer Light cost me $344.00 out the door. It was not a gift, a loaner, nor a sample. I paid for it, I own it and I am glad I bought it.

  • I set two personal bests out of three individual swims; (the 50-free and the 100-free. In the 800-free relay I swam near my best 200-free time.)
  • The suit is remarkably light as in lightweight.
  • Good swim technique maximizes your results GREATLY!
  • Unlike the Chloroprene suits, it is best raced when dry - I like that.
  • The craftsmanship is evident upon inspection
  • Easier to put on than a LZR , it still takes 10 minutes to fit into it well
  • Sizing is critical - TYR sizes are accurate so size down at your own risk!
  • For $344.00 it needs a case or at least a special, mesh, protective "baggy" like a good set of swim goggles provide but then again, does any speedsuit come with a case?
Is it fast?

The bottom line with a speedsuit is that you must swim faster. If you are still swimming the same times you were prior to any speedsuit purchase, then you better, at the very least, look like a snappy dresser because that is a lot of money to spend on no results.

The verdict is in and I did swim faster right out of the box as they say.

I swam five events at the 2008 SPMA Short Course Meters Championships; two of the events were relays.

I set the personal bests in the 50-free and the 100-free. In the 800-free relay I swam a second best time.

My Short Course Meters 50-Free Time Progression:

28.54 Tracer Light

29.01 Nike Hydra
29.09 Nike Hydra
29.17 Nike Hydra
29.40 TYR Fusion Briefs
29.55 TYR Fusion Briefs
29.72 Speedo Fastskin Leggings

These times are listed in the USMS database if you want to validate them.

The suit is lightweight

I took my Nike Hydra and my Tracer Light to the post office to weigh them. I was going to take a photo but post 9/11 the public service sector is a bit irrational when it comes to photographing objects and/or locations such as the post office. We live in a very fearful country. That is why we out spend all of your countries combined when it comes to defense. (Can you tell I am mad that I could not use my camera in a post office?)

The Nike Hydra is the lightest suit I have ever worn, it weighed in at 8.5 ounces. The Tracer Light came in at a meager 6.9 ounces! That's almost 20% lighter than the Hydra.

Good swim technique in a Tracer Light maximizes your results GREATLY!

During the 800-free relay, I never really nailed my turns on the "odd numbered" walls. Those who have swam short course meters at the Belmont Plaza know why. Since the pool uses a bulkhead system, you pass a "T" at the 25-yard mark, swim up to the next "T" at the 25-meter mark. Then there is a third line which probably represents the half way mark in the pool and consequently one's timing, or an idiot like myself, will produce sketchy turns in a pool like that.

When I would nail my turns on "even numbered" walls, I felt like a needle when I went into my streamline position. (It doesn't mean I looked like a needle but rather I felt like one.) When I would pull off a sloppy my turn, I got no advantage from the suit whatsoever. I felt the same way I do in workout when someone is directly behind you and you are trying to be polite and get out of their way.

When my catch was strong during the first 100-meters of that 200-free, the Tracer Light gave me the same sensation I feel when I shave down. I feel more efficient in the water and that the effort of my catch is delivering.

With that said there was that second half of the race: During the last 10-meters of the race my quads, forearms, and triceps felt like that were filling up with "battery acid." I was fighting hard trying to keep them from going spastic. During these 10-meters the Tracer Light gave me no advantage whatsoever. It only delivered the same momentum that I was putting out. In other words it wasn't magic.

The Tracer Light will allow you to maximize the momentum that you have the ability to create; it will do nothing more. It will allow the swimmer to express their true abilities, not give them super powers or an advantage

Race the suit dry!

I like that! I like coming to the blocks dry and my muscles warm. That is why the blueseventy was off my radar. That suit races best when wet whereas the Tracer Light is hydrophobic and the drier it is the longer it will stay that way when submerged. I know that what I said just now seems like an oxymoron but the suit repels water for minutes at a time. It almost feels like you are surrounded by oxygen.

Good craftsmanship

The stitching looks like a robot sewed it. The seams feel solid and way better sewn than any wetsuit I have owned.

Don't size down!

TYR is religiously accurate with their sizes. I got my correct size and it is tight. I spend 10-minutes putting on the bottom half then I walk around a bit to warm up the material. Then I spend 5 minutes putting on the top. Never once did I feel I was going to rip it but when I pull on the fabric I would be sure to pull on the seams since they look so strong and durable.

The Tracer light comes in a box and that's it. When I take it off I feel like I am looking at $344 artifact or more accurately a fabric that is more than a days pay, hence, I don't want to place it loose in my bag.

So here is what I would do, I would put it in zip lock baggy and then lay it out to dry when I got home. You would think speedsuit manufacturers would hook you up with a mesh bag or something to keep it warm and safe. It' not like it's a disposable diaper or something and I want this little puppy to last me till next Fall!

Any questions?


Ahelee said...

Swimmers need to know they should always buy the long legs. Unless they get banned as threatened.

Since we're going for the fastest assistance a suit can offer...

Tony Austin said...

I didn't know that,thank you. I am glad I got long legs.

Wendy said...

Well, there is an exception to make that rule. As an extraordinarily short person, some full leg suits are too long. I'm not sure you get the full benefit if you need to roll them up. ;-)

That said, I have a Speedo Fastskin full leg zip up suit (no arms), and it came in a mesh bag.

Joel said...

The Blueseventy Nero Comp also comes with a little mesh bag.

As for it being best when wet well that is what warming up in the warm up pool is all about. Plus swimming the 1500 I have plenty of time to get wet in those 60 laps.

Although I didn't time myself putting the Nero Comp suit on it was a snap. The first time it took a few minutes and I did do some primping and pulling. But that is like any new suit. After that it was simple and pretty fast. Not much longer than putting on just leggings.

Speaking of which I'll be looking at the various leggings to wear at Nationals. The TYR Tracer Light seems much more reasonably priced then the Speedo LZR. I'll have to wait and see what I hear about both suits before I purchase my next tech suit. Plus I want to wait to after the FINA meeting in Feb.

Congrats on the Personal Bests!

Anonymous said...

i was just wondering...

are all the suit styles you are comparing the same style? im not sure if its fair to say "lightest" if you're comparing a brief to a full body.

also, have you tried on a LZR? i know people say they take forever to put on, but until you've done it yourself, i dont think its fair to say a Tracer is easier to put on than a LZR.

i am just trying to be fair and unbiased.

Tony Austin said...

I am comparing a full suit with a full suit.

As for the LZR, I swim with someone who has one and it takes 2-3 people to zip him up. Granted he sized down, but it takes him longer to put on the LZR than it does me putting on the Tracer.

Wow, I guess TYR may be the only one who does not provide a bag.

Erik Sterne said...

I was so underwhelmed with my Tracer Light that while I was swimming 100 free I was thinking about how poor the suit was functioning. I also have experienced a loose thread in the crotch that kept getting longer. Fortunately, Swimoutlet.com has accepted the suit for a refund because of the flawed stitching. I swam 3 races in the Light, no prs, only disappointment. I saw a competitor with a carrying case for the LZR. Great meet, lots of really good swimmers from outside socal in my age group.

Tony Austin said...

You had a good 100-free Eric!

Jeff said...

Congrats on the swims, Tony. I must say, however, that the suit doesn't get you up and down the pool. Your arms and legs do. Personal bests times don't just come from putting on a suit. It comes mostly from hard work.

The swimmers setting all these world records and swimming faster than ever aren't lounging by the pool drinking mimosas. Make sure to give some credit to all the time you spent training in the pool. If you were indeed lounging and drinking mimosas, please let us know that. Otherwise, the suit only helps so much.

Tony Austin said...

Thanks Jeff for the nice words. :-)

Mark said...

What suit were you racing in?? I'm guessing since you said you spent $344 on the suit that it's the high neck leg skin, but on TYR's website they're only listed for $320.

You claimed that the suit only helped when you swam with good technique. Did other suites, like the nike hydra you said you swam with, help no matter how good or bad your form was? Just curious.

Tony Austin said...

Sorry about about my poor explanation. Let me set the record straight:

I paid $344 because of California sales tax.

As for the Tracer validating good swimming technique. Let me clarify: The Tracer doesn't automatically make you swim faster; a sloppy turn or a lousy streamline would only drive you as far as a sloppy turn or a lousy streamline would in a workout.

However, a good streamline in a Tracer would drive you significantly farther and faster than wearing a workout brief.

The Nike Hydra is a good suit, I like it and will wear it at lesser meets whereas I will wear my Tracer at Regionals and Nationals. I am also planning on getting a TYR Tracer Rise for Nationals if it is not deemed illegal come February!

The Nike Hydra is not as fast as the Tracer. if you swim well, you will go faster in both suits but the difference between the speed you feel when swimming well in the Tracer as compared to swimming in a Nike is very noticeable . (My times validate that.)

The Nike Hydra and my 3-5 workouts a week took off almost a 1/2-second off my best 50 free SCM time at the Santa Clarita SCM meet. The Tracer took off almost another 1/2-second off that Nike Hydra time and these are significant drops in time.

To state it more simply, the better you can swim, the more speed you will squeeze out of the suit.

Simon said...


I was wondering if you have ever tried the Speedo FS-Pro, and also why did you choose the TYR over the speedo?


Tony Austin said...

I have seen people do quite well in Speedo gear. I personally don't wear Speedo suits because I don't like the way they do business.

I also chose TYR because I like the quality. :-)

Simon said...

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the reply. With the sizing for the TYR, I have a 34 waist, but am 6ft3 about 180 pounds. I would probably need a size 36 for the length, but might be too loose. Do you have any advice? I can't seem to find any suitable sizing charts like with Speedo, where they have body loop, inside leg etc.


Tony Austin said...

I am 6'2" - I weigh 193, and I have a 35" waist and I wear a 36. I wish I would have gotten a 34" but I am a sprinter.

My opinion is that you try on TYR, b70, Jaked or Speedo suits to see which works. I have no definitive answer.

THose are the fastest suits.

Simon said...

Is the 36 too loose for you..? Sorry to be dumb... what do you mean you are a sprinter? What was you body loop circumference?

Tony Austin said...

My chest is 42" - My waist is 36" (right this minute) - my hips are 40" - and I am 6'2" tall

That body circumference thing was long but It appears to be 67"

I just measured with my tape measure and the tape measure was not long enough; (Only 60 inches), so I had to improvise.

Simon said...


Sorry for the 100 questions...do you find the 36 too loose? or just right?

My chest is 41" and body loop is 69" I am thinking I should get the 36....

Tony Austin said...

I have a longer torso than you and it feels a bit tight at the shoulders.

If I was to purchase the Tracer again, I may go a 34 since my waist is shrinking.

I really don't feel comfortable recommending a size for you since I could make a mistake and it is a huge investment. You really should try one on.

Anonymous said...

Hey there guys, one question...
I was just looking at the FINA list of approved swimsuits and I saw only full body TYR Tracer Light, no legskins, no jammers, no full body-knee skin. So I was wondering am I allowed to wear a legskin only, not a full body suit?

Tony Austin said...

All Tracers are legal, even the Titan, even the b70. Will write something soon on it

Anonymous said...

i just got one of these but the fabric patterns look different from in the official photo... have you noticed this at all?

Anonymous said...

Just got the tyr highback compression racing suit.
Any ideas how to get it on easier ?? I am a young kid and it hurts but i love it need it for this big meet.

Tony Austin said...

I don't know. A bigger size perhaps?