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Understanding Women's Swimwear


Chances are, if you want to do something in the water, someone has designed a swimsuit for it. From lap swimming, to water aerobics, to competition, to tanning on the beach, there is a specifically designed suit to meet your needs. This guide explains the various styles of swimwear — from athletic to recreational — available to women.

Competition Swimwear

Competition swimwear is first and foremost for exercise. Suit durability, comfort, and performance in the water are priorities, although recent years have seen an explosion in new, flattering designs and prints. From traditional practice suits to technical suits worn only during races, competition swimwear helps swimmers move through the water quickly and efficiently.

Practice Suits

Traditional practice suits for swimmers, divers, and even water polo players consist of a one-piece swimsuit made of polyester, nylon, spandex, LYCRA™, or a blend of the above. These fabrics are able to retain their shape in the water, and can handle hours of exposure to sunlight and chlorine. Polyester is the most durable of the fabrics, but others commonly are used as well for their superior stretch and texture.

Thick or thin straps, an open back, and high cut legs allow full range of motion in the water. Practice suits come in colors representing every shade of the rainbow, and in lots of fun, colorful prints. Practice suits are designed to be sleek and form fitting; you won't find any padded bras, shirring, or skirts, as these features generate unwanted drag in the water.

Technical Suits

Technical suits are high-end competition suits designed purely for racing. Technical suits employ the latest advances in fabric technology and suit construction, and therefore come with a much higher price tag than traditional swimsuits. Because of their lightweight fabric, hydrodynamic seam design, compression technology, and often-delicate construction, tech suits are typically worn by highly competitive swimmers and only during swim meets and races.

Water Polo Suits

Water polo is an aggressive sport, and this is reflected in the design of women's water polo suits. Their high, zippered backs and tight fit makes them difficult to grab on to during a game, while their tough fabric can withstand the stretching, tugging, and violent movements that are part of water polo. As with lap swimming suits, high-cut legs, open shoulders, and stretchy fabrics allow for full range of motion in the water.

Fitness Swimwear

Fitness swimwear combines aspects of fashion swimwear and athletic apparel to create a category of suits that are appropriate for gentle water exercise, such as water aerobics or aqua jogging. Fitness suits err much more towards conservative, with supportive bra tops, low-cut legs, and often full-coverage backs. Most fitness suits easily make the transition from workout to leisure suit, and are usually available in plus sizes as well.

Lifeguard Suits

Designed for working lifeguards, suits in this category are designed to perform well in the water, stay comfortable during long lifeguard shifts, and clearly communicate that the wearer is a professional lifeguard. Usually in red, blue, or black, with a GUARD logo across the chest, lifeguard suits come in a wide variety of styles ranging from traditional one-pieces to minimalist bikinis. Certified lifeguards are the only appropriate customers for these suits, for safety reasons. It is not appropriate to wear GUARD branded suits unless you're actually a certified lifeguard.

Fashion Swimwear

For days when exercise is not the priority, women can choose from a wide variety of fun, flattering swimsuits. Two-pieces are a perennial favorite, but tankinis, monokinis, and fun one-pieces are certainly available for women who prefer a little more coverage as they have fun in the water.

Junior Swimwear

Junior swimwear is made up of fashion suits for adolescents. Junior's swimwear for girls and teens usually features bright prints and designs that blend sporty with fashionable. Some juniors swimwear lines are also designed with slightly more modest cuts and increased coverage compared to those for adults. Junior swimwear usually comes in form of bikinis, monokinis, or shorts, and is styled for girls who like to play hard and look good doing it!

…And All the Others

Other swimwear options for women include rashguards and swim shirts, wetsuits, triathlon suits, unitards, and modest swimwear. These supplementary pieces can help keep swimmers insulated in cold pools or open water, or protect them from damaging UV rays. Triathlon suits and wetsuits often have a specific purpose — open water swimming, racing, surfing, etc. — and are therefore not always the best choice for casual swimming. It's also important to remember that in the end, a suit is a suit. If a swimsuit you like is designed for one thing (such as lap swimming), but you want to wear that suit to the beach? Go for it. They're all designed to get wet.

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Dama
7 months ago.
I need a suit for swimming in non- heated pool in cool/cold weather. My UK size is 12 (10 US ?) but I am pear shaped.
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hi Dama,

In order to determine the proper fit please take the chest, waist, and hip measurements and then compare them to our sizing chart. Sizing charts can be found at the very bottom of any page you are on. Here is the direct URL to our Sizing Chart page:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/

I hope this information is helpful and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again. Thank you for shopping with SwimOutlet.com. Have a great day!
patty
11 months ago.
Can you suggest a competition women's suit that has a higher back or a back with more coverage? I don't want one with conservative cut legs, however.
Christi
11 months ago.
My daughter (15) wants the "skimpy back" style of suit for diving practice - could you make a "search within results" feature to search for those OR have a sub-category in one-piece competition suits to make finding those easier?
Thank you
SwimOutlet.com
11 months ago.
Hi Christi,

Thank you for the suggestion! I will pass it onto our developers. In the meantime was she looking for like a spiderback suit? Below is a link with our Nike Spiderbacks:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=spider back &checkRealSearchInput=Y&Search.x=-445&Search.y=-228#redirect=false&cat=203&page=1&search=spider back&gender=female&sortby=Popularity&viewall=no

If she knows the specific style of back she likes, then you should be able to search by the style name. I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Rosanna
12 months ago.
Please help me find the swimsuit I want to order.
SwimOutlet.com
12 months ago.
Hi Rosanna,

We would be happy to help you find a suit! It looks like you were looking for the Ceeb one piece cotton boyleg? Unfortunately we do not carry that specific style. Below is a link to our Ceeb suits:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/Ceeb/?Search=ceeb

And here is a link to some of our conservative cut suits:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=conservative &checkRealSearchInput=Y&Search.x=-445&Search.y=-228#redirect=false&cat=270&page=1&search=conservative&gender=female&sortby=Popularity&viewall=no

I hope you are able to find something that you like. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Rosanna
12 months ago.
I have used Ceeb cotton onepiece boylegswimsuits for years. Why can I not order one today
Rosanna
12 months ago.
Cotton zipfront boyleg womens swimsuit
Mary
1 year ago.
I wear a speedo 28, but bought a nike 26 because they run bigger, should I have gotten a 24 nike suit. How do nike suits run
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Mary,

Nike does tend to run bigger compared to Speedo. Its usually just one size bigger but can vary according to customers. If you try the 26 and it still feels pretty loose, you may want to consider going down to a 24. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Have a wonderful day!
Anna
1 year ago.
Hello everyone,
I don't quite understand how to define a size. If in the swimsuit that I chose there is size 22 or 40, should I look at the line "swimsuit size" or "Competition" in the size chart?

Thanks, Anna
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Anna,

In general, Women's Competition suit sizing is comparable to the actual bust measurement in inches. For example, a bust circumference of 36" would likely be a suit size 36. Please be sure to measure around the fullest part of your bust rather than using your bra band size. Competition suits are designed to fit snug, you may wish to size up depending on the fit you desire. For reference, here is the URL to our Sizing Charts:
http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/
You would want to look under the competition suit size. If you are looking in the fitness section, then those suits run by the women's dress size. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us. Have a wonderful day!
Syri
1 year ago.
I'm having a heck of a time finding a one-piece athletic swimming suit that will fit me. I'm 6' and pretty slim, a dress size 2-4: bust 33in, waste 26in, hip 36in and torso loop 64in. Is there a one-piece women's suit out there that's long enough in the torso but not so wide I'll be swimming in the suit itself?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Syri,

I did find one suit, the Waterpro Sapphire Long Torso Fitness Conservative which matches your bust and hip measurements. Please see the link below:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/33064.htm#color=210

Unfortunately, we do not have too many long torso suits. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Linda
1 year ago.
How do I find long torso suits?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Linda,

I apologize for the late reply but if you are still looking for long torso suits here is the link:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/Long_Torso_Swimwear_s/569.htm

Please feel free to let us know if you have any further questions. Have a wonderful day!
Janise Wyche
1 year ago.
I'm a large size 22 in Women's . Do you have anything in a 22 size in a wetsuit for me. thanks
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Janise,

Do you happen to know your actual waist, chest, and hip measurements? We recommend that you take your measurements and compare them to our size charts. Size charts can be found at the bottom of any page on our site and they go by the brand name. Here is a link to our size charts:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/

I hope this helps! Let us know if you need any further assistance. Have a wonderful day!
Dee
1 year ago.
my pre-teen girl have swimming club training daily, but she is concern about her "chest" will show, I know that traing swimming suit doesn't have padded bras, do you have any suggestion?
Jennifer Mary Hoover
1 year ago.
What about a suit that zips in the front for bigger woman that covers all the chest too?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Jennifer,

Below are some links to suits that have a front zip:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/44569.htm?color=22824

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/42725.htm?color=37653

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/45258.htm?color=9343

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/44573.htm?color=210

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/45254.htm?color=9343

I hope you find one of these that you like. Let our customer service know if you have any questions. Have a great day!
Jane
1 year ago.
I can't find any reference to mastectomy suits.
Michele
1 year ago.
I looked for a sizing chart for the sessa French Polynesia empire high neck tankini but couldn't find it on your sizing chart. Which chart should I be looking at?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Michele,

We currently don't have a size chart available for Sessa. You can contact our customer service department at 800.691.4065. They'd be happy to help!

Thanks,
SwimOutlet.com
Marilyn
1 year ago.
I was reviewing some competition swimsuits (racing knee) online at various sites and came across sizing that included letters "Racing Knee (F)", "Racing Knee (A)", can anyone tell me what the letters stand for?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Marilyn,

The letters refer to the sizes of the swimsuits.

Hope that helps.

Thank you,
SwimOutlet.com
Barbara
1 year ago.
Please show what the different style backs look like.
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Barbara,

If you click into the product detail pages on our website, you can see many alternate views of the product, including the back. Some even have videos that show the product in action!

Thank you,
SwimOutlet.com
Mary
1 year ago.
Which women's suits are the most chlorine resistant?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hey Mary -

Polyester is the most chlorine resistant material not nylon or lycra. Polyester tends to hold up better, retain the color, and will not stretch out as much as a nylon/lycra suit would.

Thanks!
SwimOutlet.com
Karen
1 year ago.
I measure 28 in the bust. And, I want to swim competitively. What suggestion do you have for me? Which type of suit? Thanks.
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
In order to determine the proper fit please take the actual bust, waist, and hip measurements and then compare them to our sizing charts. Sizing charts can be found at the very bottom of any page you are on. In general, Women's Competition suit sizing is comparable to the actual bust measurement in inches. For example, a bust circumference of 28" would likely be a suit size 28. Please be sure to measure around the fullest part of your bust rather than using your bra band size. Competition suits are designed to fit snug, you may wish to size up depending on the fit you desire. For reference, here is the URL to our Sizing Charts:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/sizing/default.asp
Teresa
1 year ago.
any suggestions when a person orders a long....and the long is still tight? should a person order a size bigger AND long?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
The simple answer would be yes. But, how does it fit? If you can get it on but it feels too tight, go up a size and you should be ok. If you can' barely get it on, you may need to go up two sizes. Someone who needs a long may still need to size up -- someone who doesn't may find that a Long size doesn't help as much as going up a size. So, go for Long if your torso length dictates, and go with a size that is very snug but still allows for full range of movement.
Agnes
2 years ago.
what's the difference between a soft cup and a shelf cup swimsuit bra/
Donna
2 years ago.
I will be swimming laps in a 25 meter outdoor pool this winter for exercise benefits. This will be my first year to swim outdoors in cold water and weather. I am intrested in buying appropriate swimwear to insulate and help keep me warm. I am totally unfamiliar with what is available. Could you make suggestions? I was shopping your site and noticed an item called Rashguard. Could you eleborate on that a little more for me?

Thank you
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Donna,

Most of the times rashguards are used to protect your skin from the sun, but there are some types (such as the thermals) that are designed to insulate and keep you warm. You can find our thermal selection here: http://www.swimoutlet.com/Thermal_Rash_Guards_s/835.htm. I hope that helped!

Thanks,
SwimOutlet.com
Tara
2 years ago.
Could you please make a thumbnail for DD bra sizes? Lots of us out there who'd like to not have to weed through each style.....thank you!!!
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Tara,

If you go to our Women's Fashion Swimwear Section are you able to shop by style and select "d-cup & up". Check out our collection here: http://www.swimoutlet.com/D_Cup_and_Up_s/600.htm.

Thanks,
SwimOutlet.com
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