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How to Choose a Women's Technical Suit

When it comes to technical suit styles, women can opt for a traditional swimsuit cut or a model with slightly longer legs known as a "kneeskin," "neck-to-knee," or "short john." There are a large number of design features in both styles of suit that can make a difference in your decision. This guide explains how to find a tech suit that has the features that work best for you.

Choosing a Tech Suit Length

Unlike practice suits, technical suits for women come in a variety of leg lengths: From traditional, high-cut legs to legs that extend to the knee.

  • Neck-to-knee tech suits provide more surface area of material against the water, especially if the suit's fabric has special water-repelling or hydrodynamic qualities.
  • Because tech suits are worn tight over the hip joints, neck-to-knee or short john tech suits can restrict leg movement during breaststroke kicking — breaststrokers and IMers (Individual Medley swimmers) should look for stretchy fabrics that provide the full range of motion in the hip area, or choose a traditional (legless) cut.
  • Because of the greater surface area, neck-to-knee suits also increase the effectiveness of compression technology.
  • Traditional swimsuit silhouettes are just as popular as neck-to-knee models, and provide full range of leg motion at all times.

Compression in Technical Suits

Compression technology is a recent development in swimsuit fabrics and is now found in most high-end technical suits. Compression knits provide support, improve blood flow, and decrease recovery time.

  • Compression fabric is a knit that aids blood flow, pushing oxygenated blood to the muscles that need it most. This reduces fatigue and recovery time between swims in the same session.
  • Compression fabrics, because of their tight yet flexible knit, help stabilize muscles during activity.
  • Compression suits are an attractive option for open water swimmers, distance swimmers, and swimmers at multi-day meets.
  • Your technical suit should also feel tighter and more compressed than a normal practice suit.

Reduced Drag on Technical Suits

Because technical suits are designed to help swimmers move through the water as easily as possible, reducing drag is a priority in all designs. Seam style, suit pattern, and fabric all contribute to the amount of drag on a given suit.

  • Seams: Flat or thermo-bonded seam construction keeps seams lying flat against the body. This reduces drag more than traditional seam styles, which stick up more and catch water. Sprinters especially will want to lean towards thermo-bonded seams, since these provide the least possible drag in the water and a seamless transition from fabric to skin.
  • Water Repellency: Look for lightweight materials that are water repellent. They are often described as "hydrophobic." Since they absorb less water, these suits don't drag the wearer down.
  • Construction materials: Many tech suits will be a combination of polyester, LYCRA™ and spandex, but there are a few fabrics that have been designed specifically for technical racing suits. They use compression, are especially lightweight, and repel water. Some of these fabrics include: Z-Raptor™ fabric, compression knits, and LZR Pulse™ fabric.

Technical Suit Back Styles

Women's technical suits back styles mimic those of practice suits, with a few technological and hydrodynamic tweaks. This means that shoulder straps meet at the center of the back in a V or X shape, and that the lower back of the suit is cut out. Most technical suits have thick straps for support and comfort, and it is important that the straps of the suit back are tight enough to keep the suit fitting properly, but not so tight that they restrict movement. Look for a back style that mimics that of a well-fitting practice suit.

Take Your Time

Once you've selected your tech suit, it's time to put it on. Because technical suits are made specially for racing, their features require extra care and attention. Try not to rush when putting your suit on. Make sure you allow plenty of time between races or before your race to change into it. Tech suits will take significantly longer than a practice suit to put on because of the compression and tighter fit. Swimmers will often bring plastic bags with them to slide the suit over the ankles up to the knee. Avoid digging or pulling on your suit — especially if you have longer nails — as this might cause the fabric to rip or tear.

Things to Consider

If you are wearing your suit for official competition, make sure that the suit is FINA approved since full body suits and certain types of fabric are no longer legal. Remember that tech suits are worn tight to reduce drag. Either try on a suit before you buy it, or measure yourself and look at the online size chart before purchasing. Each technical suit will feel different based on the different types of fabric, compression quality and stretch components. It's important to make sure the physical feel of your tech suit is great in and out of the water.

Lastly, if you are unsure if a tech suit is right for you — because of your skill level or because of the price tag — try one of the lower-end tech suits first. These have many of the features of the top of the line suits, but may not include every drag-reducing detail. As you become more competitive, you can always upgrade to another style or model.

Shop all Women's Technical Suits

View the 2015 Racing Suit Technology Guide

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Pauline Madrieres
3 weeks ago.
I want to get my first suit but I'm not sure which one to get. I'm a sprint swimmer and am willing to spend about $120. Does anybody reccomend anything? I am 5' 3'' and weight 125 lbs.
3 weeks ago.
Hi Pauline, The Speedo Women's Powerplus Kneeskin Tech Suit Swimsuit (Product Code 8140178) is a great option if you are looking for a neck to knee tech suit. The price does range from $77.17-$99 depending on the color and size selected. A second option for a neck to knee suit is the Jaked J11 Water Zero Kneeskin Tech Suit Swimsuit (Product Code 8124619). This option is priced a little higher, ranges from $131.95-$146 depending on size selected. It's a littler higher than $120 but it does a better job at reducing drag, water repellent features, and providing great compression. If you are looking for a one piece, the Speedo Aquablade Female Recordbreaker Tech Suit Swimsuit (Product Code 1400) is a good option for the price ranging from $54.94-$79.98. Please refer to the sizing chart for each suit as each brand and style can differ. Please keep in mind the prices mentioned are as of 6/15/2016 and can change anytime. I hope this helps!
Pauline Madrieres
2 weeks ago.
Thank you so much this helped a lot!!!
1 month ago.
I don't know Wht to use for long distance can someone help me out pls?
4 weeks ago.
Hi Sharvani,
Check out the Arena Powerskin line, the three options offered are great for long distance. Here is the comparison for all three:

I hope this helps!
2 months ago.
I have a 26 speedo LZR elite 2 knee skin(my practice size is a 28-32 depending on the brand) and I feel like it fits but it's kinda hard to get on over my shoulders,but according to the sizing charts I should be a 24(I've also never tried on a 24) should I have a smaller size
3 weeks ago.
Hi Jenna, The size 26 Speedo LZR you currently have sounds like it fits you well. If you were to size down to a 24 I believe it will be too small since the 26 is already a little tough to get over your shoulders. I'd recommend to stick to the size 26 because they are meant to be compressed. I hope this helps!
3 months ago.
It used to be common practice to go down a size when ordering a women's tech suit. With the new styles and sizing, it that still the standard recommendation or are the size charts more true-to-fit than in the past?
3 months ago.
Hi Kelly,
Yes, most tech suits will recommend you size down and this will generally be stated in the product details for the item. If not stated, we suggest you stick to the sizing chart. I hope this helps!
Mia chavez
3 months ago.
I can see my skin through my kneeskin is it too small or tigh
3 months ago.
Hi Mia,
Yes, it's possible the suit is too tight as certain suits recommend you to size up. If it's a colored suit, a darker suit might be a better option. If you need more assistance, please call us at 1-800-691-4065. Have a great day!
5 months ago.
Knowing tech suit suppose to be tight . But how tight is just good and what should swim we feel when wear tech suit?
5 months ago.
Hi Mia,
Yes, tech suits are meant to have a tight compressed feel where you still have a good range of motion. If it's restricting your movement, then it might be too tight. When wearing your tech suit, you should feel a great range of motion and less drag. If you have further questions, feel free to reach us anytime!
6 months ago.
If you order a kneeskin online can you try it on at home before you wear it to a competition?
6 months ago.
Hi Asjleigh,
We accept returns within 60 days of the purchase date as long as they are in new condition and not a final sale item. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!
11 months ago.
Hi, I am a competitive swimmer and I was wondering which suits would work better for me. I qualified for state in the 50 free, 50 fly, 100 IM, and 100 free, but I mostly swim fly. I am about 5 foot 4 inches and about 130 pounds.
11 months ago.
Hi Ave,
Please see the below link for Tech suit reviews and suggestions. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!
1 year ago.
I am a mid to long distance free swimmer and I have 2 arena suits but I was wondering which suit wou ld fit my events the best? Could you help? I really like arena so I would like to stay with the arena brand. Thank you for the help!!
1 year ago.
Hi Brittney,

There's actually no best suit for an event. It more depends on the customer's preference. If you're looking into the Arena Carbon Pro series, they are all similar in performance however might fit slightly different. The original carbon pro is extremely tight and some body types didnt fit into that very well so they came out with the carbon pro flex which is supposed to provide more comfort. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any other questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
1 year ago.
Hi, I just ordered a carbon air from SwimOutlet and I got a size 30 based on my measurements. I was able to put it on in less than 5 minutes and was wondering if this is normal for a carbon air (it's supposed to be pretty easy to put on) or if I should get a 28 instead. I do have very slim figure and I did not feel very much compression in my legs and buttocks but it was perfect in the upper body. Should I size down or will the carbon keep it's shape?
1 year ago.
Hi Kylee,

With the size 30, are you able to pull the strap up off your shoulders a good 2 inches or more? If you are then it sounds like the suit is too big for you and you would want to try a 28. The Carbon Air will hold its shape. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
1 year ago.
How can you tell when your technical suit needs to be replaced? Is there a rule of thumb for the number of wears it will last? We have the Speedo LZR. Thanks!
1 year ago.

Usually technical suits can last up to 10 meets. The life of a suit does depend on how long its been worn and how it has been taken care of. Since tech suits are thinner than practice suits, you want to make sure to take extra care not to wring it out too much but lay it flat to dry. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
1 year ago.
Hi, i am a high school swimmer going to District in a few weeks. I am swimming the 500 free and trying for the 200 free. I am also swimming the 1000, 500, and 1650 at Senior Meet. I recently bought a Blue Seventy but it is big and i don't really like the fit in the chest area. I am 5'7", and weigh around 170 lbs. I was looking at the Arena Carbon Flex but i am not sure if i should get it or not because i have better experience with Speedo suits. What would you recommend?
1 year ago.
Hi Samie,

The Arena Carbon Flex is actually the best suit out in the market at the moment. If you want to go with Speedo, the Speedo lzr neck to knee is a good one. It's pretty much up to your preference and how much you would like to spend. Hope this information helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
1 year ago.
Hi, I am looking for a new tech suit for states and sectionals. I'm short (5'2) and I swim mainly 100 fly, 200 fly. But, I will also be in 2 relays where I'd swim 50 fly and 100 free. And I am either swimming in 200 im/100 back at these meets. I also hope to final in my events if that matters... Would you have an opinion on which tech suit you think would work best for me?

1 year ago.
So, I'm a high school swimmer, and I don't swim club, and I'm not sure if a tech suit would be a good investment for me to make. Just looking for someone else's input
1 year ago.
Hi Madison,

For highschool competition you should be good with a mid range suit like the Arena Powerskins or the Speedo Fastskins. You dont have to go with the pricey suits. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
2 years ago.
What size should i purchase for tech suits? I'm normally a 28, and people say to get them a lot smaller.
2 years ago.
I would like to get a tech suit for my child. She is a competition swimmer.what is your recommendations
2 years ago.
Hi Rose,

We have 2 basic styles she can chose from. Either a swimsuit style or a kneeskin. The swimsuit style that is most popular with our customers are the Speedo Aquablade Female Recordbreaker & the Speedo Fastskin FS II Custom Recordbreaker. The popular kneeskins are the TYR Fusion Aerofit Short John 2 and Arena Women's Powerskin ST Neck to Knee. You can view those suits along with the rest of our suits in our tech suit section:

I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
2 years ago.
Hi there,

I apologize for the late response but if you can provide either the name or link of the suit you are looking at we would be happy to let you know if it would be okay for biking and running as well. Normally most tech suits are fairly thin and I would not suggest getting a tech suit for biking and running. I hope this helps. Have a wonderful day!
3 years ago.
I would like to buy a high tech race suit to improve and advance my swimming. Is it possible to wear this suit for my Triathlon ( biking and running) ?
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