The workouts have all been completed. You have worked your tail off in practice over the past few weeks. You crushed the race pace sets that your coach gave you. And the taper, which is often a gong-show of emotions and nerves, went exceptionally smoothly.
So you are looking at picking yourself up a new racing suit. But where to start? There are a heap of them out there, from the standard players, including Speedo, FINIS, TYR and others.
And then there is Arena. More specifically, the Arena Carbon series of jammers. There’s a bunch of them, and while they all fall under the Carbon umbrella, the suits are actually quite different and suited for different types of swimmers.
Here’s a review of these swim jammers.
The Arena Carbon Pro jammer.
This is my favorite of all the Carbon suits, but that is because it matches up perfectly with my event and how much compression I like using with my jammer. The Arena Carbon Pro jammer is the “stiffest” in terms of compression, making it ideally suited for sprint swimmers, whether you are a freestyler, backstroker, or butterflyer. If you are a sprint breaststroker I would not recommend this suit, as the vertical compression is so tight that it makes hip rotation a little more difficult. During the breaststroke upkick in particular, when you are kicking your heels to your butt, you will experience some serious restriction.
The Arena Carbon Flex jammer.
The Arena Carbon Flex jammer, is—as you can guess by the name of the suit—designed to provide more freedom of movement for swimmers, while also retaining a lot of the compression benefits that the Pro comes with. This suit is flexible---ha!—in its application, but is mostly targeted at swimmers who need full hip mobility and range of motion with their legs. Breaststrokers and individual medley specialists will benefit the most from the Flex, as well as swimmers who tend to swim a wide range of events over the course of their swim meets.
The Arena Carbon Air jammer.
Lastly, we have the newest of the Carbon jammers, the Arena Carbon Air jammer. There are some serious upsides to this suit, but also some serious downsides as well. The big positives: the suit is way lighter than the other Carbons. Arena pegs them as being 30% lighter, which is nice. It’s a double layered suit, with the inner layer being an exceptionally soft material that is designed to move along with your skin, while the outer layer provides the compression and water repellent material designed to help you swim like a fishie. This suit is ideal of swimmers who compete in longer events (400m and up). The main drawback with the suit is the less “stiff” compression, and because it is made of more fragile garment than the Pro or the Flex it will actually last as a result. Which, when you are forking out $300+ for a suit, is a bummer.
Picking out a jammer for the big meet is the icing on the cake after a hard cycle of training. Take your time, do your research, and make sure that you pick a suit that matches up with what you expect to do in the competition pool. Happy swimming!