5. It’s a wash
Normann Stadler swam with the lead pack for the first and last time in his career en route to winning the 2006 championship. He was wearing a buoyant swim skin produced by Blueseventy, and no other athlete had one. But the days of suit technology swinging the world title are gone—for now. Current regulations prevent the use of buoyant neoprene and hydrodynamic shaping or coatings that have the potential to make one suit dramatically faster than another. Current-generation swim skins are still effective and completely necessary to keep up with the competition—our own tests found them to be worth between 1 and 1.5 seconds per 100m over a swim brief. The fact that every pro now wears one in Kona puts them all on a more even playing field than in years past when manufacturers had to scramble to create legal suits in time for the race.