The Difference Between a Training Suit and Technical Race Suit
The word swimsuit to a non-swimmer is simple, it's what you wear in the pool, but to an experienced swimmer it takes on many variations. Swimmers who race competitively generally have different suits for every occasion including training, the beach, open water practice, outdoor pools, dual meets, early season competitions and big end of the year competitions to name a few.
So what is the difference between a typical training suit and a technical race suit? To put it simply: one is much faster than the other!
There are several factors that make a technical race suit faster than a training suit, including materials, fabric, technology and fit.
A training suit is usually made with a thick lycra or nylon material that is built to stretch, wear and last for thousands of hours in the pool. They are comfortable and usually have very few specifications for sizing, it's mostly a one-size-fits-all type of cut. This means that there aren't a whole lot of options, the fit is pretty universal from one company to another.
There also is not a ton of technology in a training suit. Some companies may try to improve the fabric so that it lasts longer in the chlorine and doesn't fade over time, but they pay more attention to the details like color and design.
The composition of training suits is not made with speed in mind. Most feature thick seams along the fronts, backs, straps, necklines, waistline (for men), and leg holes. While this makes the suits more comfortable, it creates drag that you wouldn't find in a racing suit.
A technical race suit, known colloquially as a tech suit, is designed with the goal to make you faster in the pool. Companies spend countless hours testing advanced fabrics to find out which will float, glide and propel a swimmer through the water faster.
Perhaps the biggest difference when switching to a tech suit is that the modern-day tech suits have a level of compression around your body when you put them -- the hips and upper legs for a man, and the stomach, torso and chest for a woman – that feels like your body is being locked into place. There are varying levels of compression and of course it will depend on what size you select and your body type. But in general, you will feel some pressure from a tech suit compared to the looser material and fit of the training suit.
The materials used in construction are quite advanced like seams, glues, hydrophobic coatings (this makes the water bead or drain off of the suit) and tapes in order to create the best fit with the least amount of drag. Cutting-edge technology goes in to every single tech suit so that it can help you to perform better in the water. The combination of materials, fabrics and fit all help a swimmer to instantly improve their body position in the water, therefore significantly improving speed.
At the end of the day the suit doesn't do the work for you, but a tech suit helps to support fast swimming by covering your skin with technological fabric that is designed to move through the water faster – while a training suit's emphasis is more on comfort, look and durability.