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  • Feb

    What to Look for When Choosing a Women's Tech Suit - The Julie Stupp Guide

    This month, has brought in Olympic gold medalist Mark Gangloff and former US Olympic Trials finalist Julie Stupp to do independent reviews of some of the top tech suits on the market. Those reviews will come later in February, click here to checkout those reviews and here's a quick "what to look for in a tech suit" written by Julie for women's suits. You can also check this handy reference guide from on women's tech suits here.

    Choosing a Women's Tech Suit

    By Julie Stupp

    When choosing a racing suit, each individual athlete has their own likes, dislikes and style preference. You can compare choosing a suit to differing stroke techniques. Every swimmer's stroke is built from the basic technique, but every swimmer has their own flair. Just like every suit has a basic cut, but each suit has its own differing high-tech qualities that makes it stand out.

    While one particular stroke technique or suit brand works for swimmer A, it may not work for swimmer B. When I choose a suit I look for five main components including: 1.) ease to get in; 2.) fit; 3.) comfort while swimming all four disciplines; 4.) compression and; 5.) durability.

    1) Ease to get in
    When I am at a major competition I don’t want the suit to take me too long (more than 8-10 minutes) to get on and I definitely don’t want it to wear me out in the process. If I get too tired while putting on a suit or it becomes a struggle, it is not worth the trouble.

    2) Fit
    The fit of the suit is very important in competition. For me, the suit must not be too tight in the shoulders and it must be long enough in the legs. If the suit is too tight in the shoulders then I know my muscles will easily fatigue in a race, because of all the tension the suit is causing. The suit’s length in the legs is also important to me, because if the suit is too short then it will most likely be too tight around my quads and hamstrings. This tightness can cause a loss of circulation throughout my body, which can cause fatigue and hinder my race performance.

    3) Comfort while swimming all four strokes
    Because I swim the Individual Medley, I must have a suit that functions very well in all four of the strokes. If the suit is comfortable for only a few of the strokes, it does me no good. I want a suit that will stay in place for the breaststroke, create compression in my core and legs for butterfly and freestyle and one that will resist water in the chest for backstroke. This is a tall order but there are definitely suits that have all of these qualities.

    4) Compression
    Finding the perfect balance of compression is tricky. If a suit is too tight you can lose sensation and fatigue quickly but if a suit is too loose you run the risk of trapping water in your chest, torso or legs, which causes major drag. I like my suit to be on the tighter side of compression throughout my core and legs, but I don’t want it to be too tight in the shoulders or back because then I can lose mobility. If any of these are off balance it could affect my results.

    5) Durability
    When choosing a suit, I look for one that will last. I would hate to spend several hundreds of dollars on a suit that didn’t last me more than one meet. My suit must be able to withstand several races in a day and several meets in a season without losing its high-tech qualities and its shape. 

    About Julie Stupp

    Julie Stupp is the first athlete in NCAA history to qualify for the NCAA's in both swimming and track & field. She first competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials as a 14-year-old in 2000 and made the final of the 400m IM at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. She is an IM and breaststroke specialist and competed for Auburn University from 2004-2007, where she was an 11-time All-American. She is now an assistant swimming coach at the University of Missouri.


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    3 weeks ago.
    Hi Julie!
    Trying to figure out sizing for my daughter. Looking at the Speedo LZR Racer Elite II Comfort Strap. She has a bigger build and She has worn the Speedo LZR Racer in the past. Is the sizing the same with this model. Her chest, waist and hip measurement don't line up with the torso measurement on the size chart. Do I go by torso or Chest, waist and hip? She is 5'6" 145lbs. 37 chest, 29 waist and 39 hip with a Torso of 62". So confused!!
    Thanks so much!!
    1 month ago.
    My daughter is a competitive swimmer who wears a 24 Speedo fastskin (kneeskin). She has been complaining of tightness in her legs during her 200 events and blames the suit. My daughter is 5'8" and 135 pounds - all torso. is there a suit out there that may give a little more room in the legs? Have you ever heard other swimmers complaining about this? We would like to make an informed decision before we purchase another suit. Thanks!
    Julie Stupp
    1 month ago.
    Hi Ellen,

    This is a common "problem," for swimmers with muscular legs. I had this issue while swimming and would often wait until the last minute to put my race suit on so I wasn't too uncomfortable. There are several great options for your daughter. The Blueseventy Nero 14, the TYR Tracer, the Arena Carbon Flex and the Engiine Wingskin all have more flex in the legs.

    Good Luck,

    Julie Stupp
    2 months ago.
    My daughter is 5'10" and weighs 110lbs on a good day, a little less at the end of a season. She has wide shoulders, no hips (or backside), and long legs. She is needing a new tech suit. We aren't in an area where she can be professionally fitted and need some help. She swims freestyle sprint. She has had a LZR (24) before but it gapped to much in the back. Anything smaller was to tight on shoulders. Any suggestions?
    Julie Stupp
    1 month ago.
    Hi Hilary,

    Depending on how much you want to spend on a suit there are several options that should work for your daughter. The Arena Carbon Pro and the Flex, the TYR AP12, and the Finis Vapor should fit your daughter's slim frame.

    Good luck!

    Julie Stupp
    Julie Stupp
    1 month ago.
    Hi Hilary,

    I forgot to mention that if your daughter is comfortable trying a new style, the Carbon Pro and AP12 closed back options would be excellent choices for her slim frame and sprint freestyle events!

    Thank you,

    Julie Stupp
    3 months ago.

    I'm trying to find a tech suit that is a better fit for my daughter. She is a very curvy girl and getting suits on is nearly impossible. Once they are on, the top is always too loose because her hips are so wide compared to her top. She has been wearing the Speedo LZR Elite but when we get a size that you can get on with an acceptable amount of effort, the top is too loose and below her lower back, there is a gap. Getting a size smaller takes nearly 40 minutes and so much effort to put on and then is extremely opaque.

    Any ideas for another brand?

    Julie Stupp
    3 months ago.
    Hi Christina,

    I think three good options for your daughter might be the TYR Tracer, the TYR AP12 and also the Dolfin Platinum2. All three are relatively easy to get on and have an even all over compression so ahe shouldn't feel more compression in one area over another. I hope this helps!

    Good luck,

    10 months ago.
    I'm a 5'5 15 year old free and flyer, I need a suit with good compression but also very well durability because I can't afford to be buying a fastskin every few months! I was recently looking at the Arena Carbon Pro because I've heard good things but am still not sure which suit will be best for me! Which suit would you recommend for me?
    11 months ago.
    I swim 400 IM and 200 backstroke...Im 6'1" weight 165lb...33" bust, 29" waist, 36" hip and 63" torso knee to hip is 24" and i can never find technical suits that best luck so far has been FSII...I tried the speedo LZRpro recordbreaker (nonknee) and the 28 fit perfectly except the chest was too big...any suggestions? Thanks!
    Julie Stupp
    11 months ago.
    Hi Mckayla,

    I would suggest trying the TYR AP 12, the Blueseventy Nero 14 or the Engine Wingskin. All three are great for your events and your height. I hope this helps!

    Good luck!!

    Julie Stupp
    1 year ago.
    Julie, I am a 12 year old swimmer. I am wondering about a suit good for IM and Fly. I have been looking at suits and have been trying to decide about a blue seventy and a speedo LZR elite. I am very skinny and 5'6 tall. My legs alone are 3'4 1/2 tall. I am worried about the blueseventy because the length might be too short because I have really long legs. But, I am also worried about the LZR elite because it might be too big in general. Also, if there is other suits that might be a bit better that would be great, but I'm not looking for a 500$ suit. I have had an arena suit, but it was too big.
    1 year ago.
    I am trying to find the best technical suit for my daughter. She swims backstroke and free. We need a suit that would be best for her in these two events. Any suggestions? She has a long lean torso but very muscular legs that are a little bigger than most other swimmers so we need one that will be smaller up top but that will not so tight that it will restrict her legs.
    Julie Stupp
    11 months ago.
    Hi Supernova,

    I would suggest trying the TYR AP 12 in a closed back. This suit is great for Backstroke and Freestyle because of the extra material covering the back and is also not too tight in the legs. The closed back option might also help with her lean torso.

    Good luck,

    Julie Stupp
    1 year ago.
    Hi there!
    I am a 5'6 girl in high school, and this season I'm shooting for breaking a minute in the 100 Fly. I need a suit that isn't to tight on my shoulders, and compresses my legs rather well. I've been looking at the Speedo LZR Elite II, but haven't had the chance to try one on. I'm just looking for any suggestions.
    1 year ago.
    Hi Kali,

    The Speedo Female LZR Elite Recordbreaker Knee is actually a pretty good choice. I would also recommend the Nike Swim Swift EV3 Neck to Knee which has seams aligned with the flow of the water to help increase speed. You can view the suit by the link below:

    I hope this information helps! And good luck! With enough practice and determination you will definitely beat your goal! Have a wonderful day!
    1 year ago.
    Julie, I am a 60 year-old Masters swimmer. I have just "aged up" and need to buy a new tech suit to perform my best at Nationals. I am 5'6" and "curvy" (not your typical tall, lean swimmer). I swim breaststroke and IM as you do. The mere thought of trying on several different tech suits exhausts me. Which suit would you suggest?
    Also, have you tried the top-of-the line Engine tech suit? If so, how would you rate it?
    1 year ago.
    Hey Cathy -

    First of all, congratulations on "aging up" and good luck at Nationals!

    We would suggest the Arena Women's Powerskin ST Neck to Knee suit. Arena is a great tech suit company, currently the U.S. National Team's main competition suit sponsor. You can view the suit here:

    The sizing chart can be viewed here:,279,1039

    We hope this helps!

    Julie Stupp
    1 year ago.
    Hi Carrie,

    I think three of the suits I reviewed would be a great fit for your daughter. The TYR AP12, the Dolfin Platinum2 and the Rocket Science FU2 Racer would all accentuate your daughter's long lean body. All three of these suits emphasize the vertical lines in a swimmer's body with their compression qualities and all three performed very well while swimming breaststroke. You can't go wrong with any of these knee suits. I hope this helps and please tell your daughter good luck in her upcoming JO and Zone meets!

    1 year ago.
    My daughter is a 12 year old AAAA breaststroker and it seems that her peers are all transitioning from the classic speedo fastskin FSII recordbreaker to some type of knee suit. She is in need of a new suit for her upcoming Junior Olympic meet as well as Zones. She has a long thin "dancer" type body shape. What knee suit would you recommended for her?
    1 year ago.
    I would recommend a speedo kneeskin. All of them are great for slim bodies, so it reall depends on how mush money you would like to spend on a suit
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