At ProSwimwear we live and breathe swimwear, it's second nature to us. But we are aware that some may need a bit of help when it comes to getting started with the basics, the language, the various styles and materials appropriate for your purposes. You don't have time to run around finding all this info out for yourselves! Thats why we've had a go at summarising it all for you!
Whether you're swimming for leisure, for fitness or you're training hard for your next competition hopefully you'll leave here armed with fresh knowledge to help find the best swimsuit for your needs.
First ask yourself: What will I be using my swimsuit for? Will it be used once a month for a leisurely dip in the local swimming pool? Or are you more likely to be using it on a daily basis as part of your fitness regime? This will help determine the type of material best suited to your needs.
At ProSwimwear we group the majority of our swimsuits in to three main types; Lycra, Extra Life Lycra and PBT/Polyester swimwear fabrics. Suits can come with different blended percentages of polyester or lycra but these are the three main groups.
Lycra is the traditional swimwear material. Invented in 1959 and still used to make swimming costumes today. Also known as spandex. Often blended with other fibres. Lycra is a comfortable and soft material with incredible amounts of stretch however it does not last as long as some of the more recent swimwear fabrics, typically lycra swimsuits will wear out in around 6 months if you're a frequent swimmer but they're fantastic value and great for anyone who swims for occasionally leisure
Extra life lycra...
...is a more up to date version of the traditional lycra material. As the name suggests it gives “Xtra Life” to your swimsuit, meaning it will last a lot longer after being exposed to chlorine. Xtra life lycra will hold it's colour and shape much better than regular Lycra.
PBT and Polyester...
...suits boast a fantastic swimsuit lifespan. A polyester based swimming costume can last for a few years if cared for properly. A drawback of polyester is that it doesn't have quite the same soft and comfortable touch or stretch qualities as lycra. This has been remedied somewhat by the invention of PBT. PBT is a Polyester blend with much better elasticity and it's also quick drying with a low water absorbancy! Great for racing or long training sessions. If you want a swimsuit that is great for racing and swim training but will stand the test of time, then a Polyester based suit is most definitely for you! Speedo's Endurance Range, TYR's Durafast Collection and Arena's Waternity Range are all fantastic Polyester/PBT swimwear collections.
So those are the three main swimwear materials available at ProSwimwear. Once you've decided which is best for your purposes the next hurdle to get over is choosing a back style.
...could be a whole blog in itself! Swim brands come up with new names for back styles every year. For example, Speedo alone feature all these back styles and more: racerback, drop back, energy back, extreme back, fly back, fresh back, recordbreaker back and so on. Let's make this a little easier, there are two main types; Open back and Closed back. All swimwear backs will be a variation on these two types and include either thin or thick straps.
...or wide straps are commonly found on racing swimwear and technical suits, the wide straps provide great support but can be uncomfortable when worn for extended periods of time. You can also find a great selection of wide strap costumes for aqua aerobics or leisure swimming which provide an excellent level of support and great coverage for the more modest swimmer who isn't content to go for that 'barely there' look. Many swim brands produce their own line of body shaping or body sculpting swimwear benefiting from the use of thick straps like Speedo's Body Sculpture collection.
...swimming costumes have become increasingly popular in recent years with fitness swimmers. Swimmers report that they can better “feel” the water when wearing thin strap (and open back) swimsuits. Additionally thin straps provide a greater freedom of movement around the shoulders making them more comfortable for long swim sessions. Serious swimmers who train every day will enjoy the benefits of a thin strap costume in their training sessions because of the comfort and ease of movement.
OK now we know the basics lets move on to the three basic swimwear styles. Swimming Costumes, Bikinis and Kneesuits.
One-Piece Swimming Costumes...
...are the traditional style of womens swimsuit that we are all familiar with. In the USA they are commonly referred to as “One-Piece Swimsuits” whereas in the UK its more likely you'll hear them referred to simply as “Swimming Costumes”. This type of swimsuit has remained popular for decades due to it's functional style and adaptable use. You can get one piece swimsuits designed for racing, leisure swimming, aqua aerobics, for the beach or for pretty much any other aquatic activity. There's swimming costumes for confidence, coverage and support. For showing off your figure at the beach. For training in the pool day after day and for a whole host of other uses!
Kneesuits (Boyleg swimsuit)...
...have become increasingly popular in recent years, with most top athletes sporting kneeskin race suits during competitions. Knee suits go by many names and no two swim companies seem to call them the same thing. Here are just a few of the synonyms for Kneesuit from my experience; Kneeskin, Legsuit, Short John, Full Body Short Legged Swimsuit, Legged Swimsuit, Boyleg Swimsuit and Knee-Length Swimming Costume.
These swimsuits are similar to traditional one-piece swimming costumes but have the addition of legs, making the bottom half of the suit look more like a pair of boys shorts, hence the name boyleg swimsuit. Leg heights vary from suit to suit, some are very short and some come right down to the knee for full coverage. Some open-water swimsuits (for swimming in the sea, lakes or rivers) like the “Arena Powerskin R-Evo Open Water Suit” feature legs that extend right down to the ankle!
The kneesuit style has been appropriated for many purposes from professional racing to aqua aerobics. High-end racing kneeskins such as the Speedo LZR Racer Elite 2 are packed with special features and intricately engineered design elements that claim to enhance natural abilities and shave seconds off personal best times.
For more modest aqua aerobics, fitness and leisure swimmers the extra coverage provided by the legs gives a boost of confidence and helps alleviate any self-conscious feelings when going to the pool.
...otherwise known as Bikinis, are not often used for fitness training or competition swimming. There is currently more of a trend for two piece competition and training swimwear in the USA compared to the UK but maybe we're just a little more modest than our American cousins? At ProSwimwear we stock a selection of swim bikinis that are designed to be used for swim training sessions or could even be used for competition swimming. The TYR Swim Training and Workout Bikini for one, and our exclusive FunAqua colourful training bikinis. These sporty looking swim workout bikinis provide excellent support and more coverage than your average beach bikini. Of course if we started to look further we'd have to go in to the various types of bikini such as triangle, bandeau, halterneck etc. But lets leave it there for today.
So now we've been through swimwear materials, back styles, strap styles and basic swimsuit styles. I think that's quite enough swimwear talk for today. You should now be better equipped to make your purchases with confidence! Happy swimming.