Top Swim Warm-Ups Compared: The Expert Review
by Loretta Race, Swim Writer & Masters Swimmer
I’m partial to the color blue, so I loved the deep navy hue of this Arena set. The reflective silver accents and Arena logo on both pieces were clean and modern, but balanced by a throwback-feel from the design. The jacket especially reminded me of the warm-ups I had growing up, as the cuffs and waist are fashioned with the thick elastic bands that say ‘old school’ in a very good way.
Both the jacket and pants are polyester with a very comfortable fuzziness that makes the pieces feel warm and snug against the skin. The set is ideal for swimmers who like to stay warm between swims or sessions without having to whip out the old parka. I absolutely loved slipping these pieces on right after my morning practice just to wear something on the way home to then get ready for work.
Of the set, I found the jacket especially stylish. I paired it with jeans when going out for a post-practice team breakfast and thought it looked fresh and sporty.
As much as I loved the fit and styling of the jacket, the pants fit wasn’t woman-specific enough for my particular body since the sizing is unisex. I tried two different sizes of the pants and simply couldn’t get them to fit me right; they were either too snug in the wrong places, or too boxy with little shape. Bottom line, the pants will still be a welcome relief during a chilly dead-of-winter swim meet, but expect some extra room overall.
Retta’s Rating: A
Admittedly, I’ve never owned a piece of Dolfin sportswear, so I really had no idea what to expect. At first sight, the jacket and pant combo appeared similar to the Speedo set in this review, with Dolfin also selecting an all gray pallet, but with panels of black for contrast.
The jacket also has a subtle honeycomb pattern on the shoulders that gave it a dash of detail. There is a tiny zippered pocket at chest-level, which I thought was a little odd. It could certainly hold an ID card or earbuds, but is kind of unnecessary with both the jacket and pants having ample-sized pockets.
Dolfin’s pants were very much like the Speedo in that they have some stretch and give, which I appreciated when walking up and down bleachers and bending down to speak to my swimmers while coaching. But, the pants were slight in thickness, which made it a chilly walk to/from my car at 5:30am.
I would recommend this set for anyone in a warmer climate who wants a traditional-looking warm-up that has a technical feel, but whose fabric is particularly soft.
For me, the Dolfin set was a little too structured-looking; a formal warm-up, if you will. It certainly gets the job done and can provide teams a good neutral outfitting option, but I preferred the casualness and versatility of a few of the other sets when looking at them all as a whole.
Retta’s Rating: B
From an appearance standpoint, the Nike women’s training jacket and pants set immediately stood out from the get-go due to its vibrant red color. I liked how the grey contrast gave it some detailing, without being too flashy. This set is specifically for women as opposed to unisex, so the pants had a nice shape to them - not too slim, but also not bulky.
Fabric-wise, we’re talking super thin layer of polyester that offers more of a covering than it does actual warmth. When I wore this set coaching one morning, I made the mistake of sitting on a wet block and the moisture immediately soaked through, hit my skin and stayed there, so there is no barrier if these were to get wet in a cold natatorium during a long meet.
But, I could see this outfit being just perfect for those in an outdoor environment on the coast or in the South, or at least one where the indoor pool’s air temperature isn’t too chilly. Also, the thinner fabric of this Nike set makes it a great option to wear under a parka for extra warmth on deck or en route to/from the pool.
This lightweight Nike set is versatile, as I wore it over my tank and shorts to CrossFit as well. My shorts weren’t bulging underneath the pants and the thinness of the fabric meant I could jog around and not be drenched with sweat before my dryland workout even began.
Retta’s Rating: A-
The Speedo set carried a completely different vibe than the first couple of warm-ups I tried on, with the sleek grey fabric giving the warm-ups more of a serious feel. I felt like a monotoned shark stepping into pool area, although the jacket does reveal a burst of color at the cuffs and waistline to give it some personality.
This Speedo set’s polyester fabric has some slight stretch to it, which was welcoming, especially when putting the pants on while still slightly wet. The jacket has an interior mesh lining, which did a surprisingly good job of insulating and making the piece warmer than just the one layer of fabric. There is also a vent in the back, which I didn’t even notice until I hung up the jacket, so I’m not sure how much that feature adds to the piece.
After my own workout, I wore the Speedo warm-ups coaching and the mesh lining made the moisture stay further away from my body so I could stay cozy while walking around on-deck. I appreciated the pants’ stretch again when stepping on the blocks to instruct the squad.
The pants are unlined, and while they provide enough warmth when I was indoors, my legs got a wake-up call when walking to my car in 35-degree wind.
As a whole, even though the set is a little too structured-looking for me, it is very comfortable, carries the dependable Speedo name and can be easily customized with the jacket’s color details.
Retta’s Rating: B+/A-
I am continually pleased with TYR products, whether they’re practice suits, training gear or clothing. This fashionable jacket and pants set came in a bold royal blue color, one that I probably wouldn’t have picked out for myself. At first I felt a little Smurf-like, but wound up being thrilled with the way the eye-catching hue looked on deck.
The set is a thicker polyester and, while it’s not outright lined, the inside is comfortable and carries some weight for warmth. The length and sizing of the pant was terrific, with a super comfortable tie-string, adjustable waistband and front pleat running the length of the leg to give shape.
I appreciated how the jacket was cut nicely for females. It was snug enough to provide coziness without being clingy and tight. And, this jacket has basically the best invention ever - a hood!! I never knew how much I would love a warm-up hood until I wore this TYR jacket!
On the pool deck, I listened to my music with my hood over head to get in ‘the zone’. Outside, when leaving the pool to get to my next stop, it was nice not having my hair enter ‘freeze mode’ with a little covering, courtesy of the hood. This feature definitely adds a benefit that the other jackets don’t have.
Retta’s Rating: A
Although not a swimming brand per se, Under Armour definitely knows its way around a warm-up, and the styling and comfort of this set was undeniable. Both the jacket and pants were a slick silver color with white piping for detail and I received compliments from several people the first time I wore these warm-ups.
Each piece was loose fitting, but not bulky or boxy, which enabled me to comfortably wear my CrossFit clothes underneath when going from pool to gym.
On another day, I wore this set both to swim practice and then to a quick grocery shopping trip afterwards and the warm-ups performed terrifically. I found the set’s fabric was moisture-wicking enough to keep me dry while shopping, yet the inside is also a tad fuzzy, making it have a blanket-type feel against my skin.
Like a couple of the other brands, these Under Armour bottoms have zippered ends, which made it a little easier to slip off my shoes, but are not a necessity for me personally.
For its comfort and inviting warmth, I would recommend this set to anyone wanting a snuggly extra layer on both top and bottom, whether in the pool area or just out and about during the fall and winter months.
Retta’s Rating: A+
Editor’s Note: The Expert Review is a completely independent review of products sold on SwimOutlet.com by outside swim experts to help customers in their purchasing decisions. The opinions are entirely and solely those of the author. Many factors go into the purchase of a product and an expert review should be just one of many.
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