Product Review: ROKA SIM Shorts

Most of you know that I am a triathlete. As a triathlete in the Pacific Northwest, I count on racing in a wetsuit for almost every race with a few exceptions: high heat in the late summer in which water temperatures exceed 76.1 degrees (the wetsuit cut-off), when I make it to Kona where it will never be wetsuit legal, or if I happened to forget it (which would never happen because I'm an OCD triathlete). With that said, the buoyancy that you are able to achieve in the water while in a wetsuit is hard to replicate. Pool tools like the swim buoy can definitely help, as they assist in keeping the legs elevated in the water - but nothing does it like the neoprene of a wetsuit. Meet the ROKA SIM short. It's a neoprene short that is designed for wearing in the pool to help triathletes replicate the body position and experience of a wetsuit swim. It is recommended for use in specific training swims, recovery swims, or as part of your warm-up. Additionally, I think it looks pretty awesome as well: IMG_7373 IMG_7375

Now for my review. This is my first product review, and I'm hoping to do a few more of these over the course of my Ironman Coeur d'Alene build. To be specific, ROKA has three versions of their SIM short and this is the Comp version, which sits in the middle of their offering with a retail price of $89.

What I love

  • The ability to get a real kick. For anyone who has spent time swimming with a pull buoy between your legs, you know it's difficult to get a good kick while keeping that thing in place. I love that the ROKA SIM shorts keep my body in the perfect body position, while freeing up my legs to kick.
  • They make me FAST. I have always been faster in open water, no coincidence that this is when I'm wearing a wetsuit. I don't come from a swimming background, but I have worked my butt off to develop as a swimmer - but any advantage helps. Without the SIM shorts, my threshold swim pace is about 1:20/100 yards. With the shorts on I'm able to hold around a 1:16/100 yard pace, I'll take it.
  • They are convenient. I love the fact that I can throw these in my swim bag and bring them with me to the gym.
  • They look awesome. Well, my wife my not agree - but at least I'm not showing up to the pool in a wetsuit!

What I don't love

  • The fit. They sit a little bit lower than what I am used to wearing, I've gotten used to it. They are definitely comfortable and true to size. I would absolutely recommend wearing a speedo or small suit under these. And to ROKA's credit, the site is very clear that they sit low.
  • How I feel when I'm not wearing them. This isn't ROKA's fault, but I could see how the shorts could become a crutch for some. Although triathletes might argue that if you race in a wetsuit, why not always train in one - I would disagree. It's important to develop proper technique in the pool, even if that means feeling slower without the SIM shorts. Plus, if I showed up to Masters with these on - I am positive that our coach wouldn't let me in the water, and I'm not ready to swim in just a speedo!

All in all, I have been extremely pleased with the SIM shorts. It's an incredible addition to my swimming arsenal, and it serves a great purpose for training. I have been swimming in them twice a week: one recovery swim, and my long solo saturday swims where I'm doing longer race specific intervals. ROKA's website calls it the 'ultimate training tool' - and I would officially have to agree.

What is your favorite swim tool/toy?