Every year, SwimOutlet experts Julie Stupp and Mark Gangloff review the newest technical racing suits in their Tech Suit Review. The 2018 review featured six female and six male tech suits including A3 Performance's newest innovation, VICI. A3 Performance is excited to participate in the review for the second time (read the 2016 review of LEGEND here)! What's even more exciting is that A3 Performance VICI male and female suits received an A+ grade from both of SwimOutlet's tech suit experts! Read their reviews below.
A3 tested over 140 versions of the VICI to find the right fit for the women’s suit because they felt the old Legend from 2016 lacked integrity in the fit of the chest. Many suits including the Legend stretch out after you pull them over your hips time and again. The result of all of A3’s testing and manufacturing over the past few years is an excellent fitting VICI! The suit has plenty of compression throughout but also allows for freedom of movement in the hips and back. I wore a size 30 Legend, but a 26 in the VICI open and closed back, so I would definitely suggest going down one size from your normal racing suit. Having the choice between an open and closed back suit is the best of both worlds, especially since A3 is known for their Powerback. The Powerback is A3’s style of open back suit, but it has a thicker backstrap that covers more skin and compresses more of the upper back and lats. The only part of the A3 fit that I didn’t like was the seam on the inner thigh. The grey material in the crotch extends to a portion of the inner thigh and is bonded by a seam to a different fabric than the rest of the leg. The oddly placed seam runs horizontally and doesn't stretch as fluidly while swimming breaststroke.
A3 is known for their high-quality fabrics and the VICI is no different. A3 began creating a material called Bodimax several years ago and has a patent pending for their design. Bodimax is a highly intelligent fabric that aids in muscle recovery, decreases lactic acid, and increases oxygen to the muscles through Far Infrared energy. Bodimax is woven into the suit’s material and then the blended fabric is specifically placed on the swimmer's body to increase performance in the pool. The grey fabric is the only fabric that doesn’t include the Bodimax material and it is a one-directional stretch fabric to enhance compression. This one-way stretch fabric along with the inner thigh seam is probably why I felt a bit constricted swimming breaststroke. A3 spent a lot of time, money, and manpower researching the fabrics for the VICI and I can definitely feel the quality of fabrics while swimming.
The VICI performed very well in the pool. The closed back version was the perfect blend of compression and flex, while the open back suit provided me with even more movement while swimming all four strokes. I felt fast, buoyant and like I was effortlessly gliding through the water due to the high-tech fabrics. Both suits also have the Pro Flex straps that have a section of soft felt on them. This genius invention makes a tech suit easy to wear for longer races and longer periods of time on deck without wearing out your shoulder muscles. The A3 core compression technology was supportive yet comfortable. There are seams that run just under the chest and a few multi-stretch seams that run across the rib cage allowing your lungs to expand and contract while still keeping your core supported and lifted. The VICI is a very well thought out design and will not go unnoticed while racing.
Pros: The high-tech, super forward-thinking fabric is the way of the future. It is especially attractive at this price point, which bumps it up to a notch from an A to A+ grade in my book.
Cons: The inner thigh seam, created an awkward pull.
Grade: A+ (gets an added plus if you factor price)
In 2016, I was pleasantly surprised with my first A3 product review, so this year when I saw that I would be reviewing the A3 VICI suit, I was very excited to see what the new A3 VICI had to offer. Before testing, I was able to speak with Dan Meinholz, A3’s Founder & CEO, to get more information about the VICI. I could feel his excitement and pride through the phone when he was speaking about the features of the VICI.
During this review, I wore a size 28 and I would say it is true to size. Putting this suit on was not easy, but once I had it in place it felt great. Like many of the elite tech suits on the market, I would say this suit has medium to high overall compression, which I like. The suit was not restrictive when going through all of the strokes. A3 did go with a slightly higher cut, meaning this suit hit at the top of my hip bones. Again, this is a design feature that I personally prefer and others may not. The leg holes are very comfortable without being overly constrictive. A3 is one of the companies that opted to use the one-way stretch technology to create a custom fit in this suit. The gray fabric has almost no horizontal stretch and that really compresses the hips. The black material and the lining have A3 Bodimax Technology in it, but for this review, I will not be speaking specifically to the Bodimax Technology. What I will say is this material has more stretch and allows for ample range of motion.
The outer shell is made up of 60% Polyamide and 40% Elastane, while the inner lining is 66% Polyamide/ 34% Elastane. To the touch, this material feels a little thicker and holds its shape very well, but I would never say this is a “thick” suit. I would make the comparison to feeling a starched shirt vs a non-starched shirt. A starched shirt is not thicker than a non-starched shirt; rather it just holds its shape better.
Like I said in the sizing section above, the gray material in the suit has very little horizontal stretch, which compresses the hips. I love this aspect. I am always looking to get one of the widest parts of my body squeezed down as tight as possible without limiting the range of motion. Putting both the ‘one-way stretch’ gray fabric with the black fabric with the Bodimax technology give you the compression you need while allowing you to move through the strokes with ease.
Much of the testing that went into this suit was done in a static position, meaning the tester was not moving in a ‘static’ streamline position without any additional propulsion or movement. This is a critical test for any suit manufacturer to do because fast swimming includes so much time spent when doing starts and turns in a static position. Bottom line: it was time well spent for A3 because it worked. I felt great leaving the blocks and the wall. The suit helped me hold my speed longer.
Pros: High Compression in the hips, high cut suit
Cons: None, this suit was spot-on for my taste