Here at Swim Smooth, we're super excited to announce that our wetsuit partner, HUUB, has just received the coveted Queen's Award for Innovation. Amazing! We'd love to take this opportunity to tell you a little more about the early days when Paul and Adam were visited on a dreary, wet September day in 2011 in Folkestone (Kent) by a true entrepreneurial visionary in the product development aspect of triathlon, Dean Jackson.
Dean had a plan to fundamentally redesign how wetsuits were made and sought out Paul and Adam's help based on our unique Swim Type coaching methodology, to create a suit that better addressed the needs of a range of different swimmers and triathletes, taking into account varying levels of buoyancy. On the back of a paper napkin, overseen by a world-famous sports scientist and co-founder, Huub Toussaint, the three guys started to craft out what would ultimately become one of the world's leading wetsuit brands.
But before we tell you that story, let's hear from Dean on what this means for the company which today employs 24 passionate HUUBies, has created a world-beating independent cycling team, produces a massive amount of great technical wear, has the world's most famous chef, Gordon Ramsey, as one of its keenest users, and is still based at its home in Derby, UK.
From a Derby garage to Buckingham Palace in just nine years!
HUUB, which has become a world leader in triathlon gear, has now received Royal approval after being awarded the Queen's Award for Innovation.
The awards are the most prestigious in the UK and celebrate the success of exciting businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services. HUUB was put under the microscope of a stringent panel of judges before they passed their recommendation to Her Majesty for approval.
HUUB's founder, Dean Jackson said, "To be recognised in the Queen's Awards is amazing. I would never have dreamed when starting this business on my kitchen table nine years ago that we would be recognised for what really makes HUUB special... Our innovation!
"We constantly strive to make athletes better and faster and our sport more fulfilling. We are relentless in the pursuit of performance, and innovation sits at the heart of everything we do.
"I'd like to thank the team for driving our ambition and aspirations to be the very best in our field and for believing in the crazy ideas that drive innovation and experimentation.
"There is a saying, 'if you do what you did, you get what you got', and we believe that to make an innovative change, you need to do, think and explore where others have failed to go or failed to see the benefit.
"Winning the Queen's Award is for the whole business. It's a reflection of the team's dedication to pushing thinking and challenging the norm."
Research | Science | Reality
Back on a dreary day in September 2011 as Swim Smooth Head Coach, Paul Newsome, was waiting for the call to swim the English Channel, Paul and Adam were visited in Dover by a true visionary in the product development aspect of triathlon, Dean Jackson.
Dean had reached out to Swim Smooth to help him create a new range of exciting wetsuits which would be named HUUB after one of Paul's most-admired sports scientists, Professor Huub Toussaint. Dean coined the tagline "Research | Science | Reality" in recognition of Dean's research and understanding of what the triathlon population needed from a new wetsuit at that point, Huub's ability to test and back-up any innovations with his stringent scientific background, and Swim Smooth's work on the reality "coalface" with the swimming and triathlon population in a coaching context.
On the back of a paper napkin in a Costa Coffee in Folkestone, Dean, Paul, Adam, and Shelley Taylor-Smith (7-time world marathon swimming champion who was there to mentor Paul for his big swim), began discussing some new concepts for wetsuit design centred around Swim Smooth's Swim Type coaching methodology. In a coaching sense, we have used this system extensively since 2010 to help our coaches and swimmers determine a starting point for their individual stroke correction needs based on such things as height, build, gender, experience/ability, age, wingspan, etc. Dean was curious to know what we had learned about how these different factors impacted a swimmer's technique, specifically from the point of view of buoyancy profiles in the water. Did different types of swimmers require a different type of wetsuit based on how they normally swim without a suit?
Most people wrongly assume that everyone loves and benefits from the most buoyancy in a wetsuit as is legally allowed (5mm), however, our own observation, awareness, and thousands of hours working with a range of different swimmers, suggested that this wasn't the case - some people positively hated wearing a wetsuit and resent those who spend the big bucks and suddenly become significantly faster!
The second wrong assumption people were making if they did believe that there could be a need for different levels of buoyancy between swimmers, was that more buoyancy for a guy would be better than more buoyancy for a female. Again, this assumption - whilst feasibly correct 70% of the time - didn't cover the whole gamut that we were seeing day-in, day-out as coaches. We were observing that wetsuit selection and buoyancy profile could be more closely linked to the swimmer's type (which is gender independent), than their specific gender and the assumption that all female swimmers float better than men.
Let's look at three extreme examples which helped form the basis of two of HUUB's early wetsuit range - the 3:5 Archimedes, the 3:3 Aura, and the 4:4 Aerious:
Our Classic Arnie Swim Type and the 3:5 Archimedes wetsuit:
Typically male, but many female Arnettes do exist, especially those with very lean, muscular frames of the type that might be doing Ironman at a relatively serious level. This is the classic swimmer who loves using a wetsuit as it helps to offset their key stroke flaw, low sinking legs. This swimmer loves using a pull buoy (and eventually buoyancy shorts and HUUB's "kickpant"), because of how this added buoyancy both lifts the legs and keeps them closer together, thus reducing drag. By creatively reducing buoyancy in the upper body of the wetsuit (3mm) and increasing buoyancy around the hips and legs (5mm), the 3:5 Archimedes wetsuit was the ultimate speed weapon for the type of swimmer who is ordinarily limited by their swimming prowess in the pool.
Click image above for a cool comparative wetsuit vs non-wetsuit video with an Arnie
Our Classic Kicktastic Swim Type and the 3:3 Aura wetsuit:
Many assume that everyone loves a wetsuit, but not a Kicktastic! In fact, most Kicktastics are not truly slower when wearing any wetsuit, it's just that they don't see the same gains that their Arnie / Arnette counterparts do and this has been historically frustrating for them. Together with Dean and Huub, we helped create the world's first specifically designed low-buoyancy wetsuit to cater to the fact that a Kicktastic's body profile and horizontal position in the water is already their key strength. Adding more buoyancy than what is necessary to keep the swimmer warm in colder water is simply unnecessary and contributed to the feeling of "unbalance" and awkwardness that a Kicktastic would repeatedly tell us about. The 3mm body combined with the 3mm legs saw a much more balanced position in the water for the Kicktastics who tried the original Aura suit and it soon became known as "the wetsuit for people who hate wetsuits"!
Overly buoyant wetsuit combined with a very strong kick = disaster / frustration
Our Classic Smooth / Swinger Swim Type and the 4:4 Aerious:
Even if you don't have a massively strong leg kick, but swimming is your background, chances are a) your buoyancy without a suit is already pretty good, and b) you want a wetsuit to feel like you're not wearing one! The 4mm body combined with the 4mm legs of the original lower-price-point Aerious became a quick crowd-favourite for those from a swimming background wanting to try triathlon for the first time. In fact, here's Australian National U18 open water swimming champion and this year's 4th place in the open category (narrowly missing a birth to the Tokyo Olympics by just 12 seconds), using a new version of Aerious just this morning in the Swan River here in Perth where we're undergoing another short COVID lockdown - Byron loves this suit!
The HUUB wetsuit range was launched in February 2012 at the London Triathlon Show which we were hugely proud to be part of. Check out the initial release blog here, which shows some of the initial testing and analysis which Adam went to oversee at the hi-tech InnoSportNL facility in Eindhoven.
Here are a couple of classic blogs from yesteryear talking about the link-up between your Swim Type and your wetsuit choice:
We would like to send the whole HUUB team a massive round of applause and kudos for what they achieved in such a short space of time - epic stuff!