How To: Selecting a Swimsuit for Women
Swimwear for women has come a long way. Flashback a few decades and your only option would be a basic black, hip-hugging swimsuit complete with white bathing cap and infamous chin strap. As effective and not to mention attractive as those suits were, today you can walk into any swim shop and be greeted with a multitude of options in style, fabric, color, and most importantly, function.
If you’re shopping for a suit to wear for triathlon or open water swim training, you’re probably looking for something to wear that is comfortable; a suit you can wear in both chlorinated and open water venues with minimal movement, scratching, or rubbing. And probably a style that is somewhat flattering.
Most of the major swimsuit manufacturers (Speedo, TYR, Nike) have both one and two-piece styles in a multitude of prints and colors. Sizing between swimsuit manufacturers varies, so look for size charts on the tags. Also, don’t be afraid to try on one size above and below the chart’s recommendations. Swimsuits are like jeans; you need to try on different styles to find the one that fits the best. Basically, you have two style options, one-piece or two. A comfortable one-piece is a suit that allows your arms to move freely and doesn’t put unwanted pressure on your neck or shoulders. If you decide on a two-piece, also look for a top which allows your arms to move freely and does not dig into your shoulders or neck. Bottoms which have a drawstring are preferred, as this is a practical feature for pushing off the wall or navigating through breaking waves without giving an undesired show.
Most swimsuits are a Lycra, polyester, or Lycra and polyester blend. If you do most of your swimming in chlorinated pools, I recommend a suit with polyester. These are usually labeled “chlorine-resistant” and will last longer and not fade as quickly as Lycra-only swimsuits. However, polyester suits tend to be less stretchy, so you may need to adjust your size even if you stay with the same swimsuit manufacturer.
Darker colors tend to be more fade-resistant, but this is purely a matter of personal preference. Companies are now making swimsuits in an extensive variety of colors and designs. Feel free to show a little of your personality with your suit.
If you are a triathlete or just getting into the sport, you probably are wondering what to wear during training, as well as for a race. One option is to have a two swimsuits. One swimsuit that you use during your swim workouts, and a different outfit which you can wear for a race. Your race outfit may include a pair of triathlon shorts and a triathlon sports-bra top, so you can swim, bike, and run without having to change “clothes.” Most tri shorts and tri tops are made of quick-drying materials which you can wear under your wetsuit. The shorts will have padding which adds comfort to the bike, but is minimal so you won’t notice it during the run. Try different combinations of shorts and tops to find what works best for you. And remember, looks can be deceiving. Make sure you try things on and move around in the dressing room to see if straps, seams, and fabrics stay where they should. Most importantly, regardless of what your boyfriend says, the shortest shorts don’t make you faster!
Written by Carrie Smith