The ProSwimwear Guide To Competitive Swimsuits
Whether you’re taking part in your first competitive race, or you’re a seasoned veteran of competitive swimming, you’ll know that choosing the right FINA approved swimsuit is one of the vital keys to success. There are plenty of different factors to consider when choosing your competitive race suit. There’s comfort, fit, speed, design and perhaps the most important, price!
Sizing, You Need To Get It Right!
First, let's discuss comfort and picking the correct size, which we must stress is a vital part of achieving the maximum potential from your racing suit! Competitive swimwear is designed to feel like a “second skin” meaning there isn't much leeway in terms of sizes. Ensure you measure yourself before purchasing and compare this with the product size guide (please note all brands are different, a size 20 in one brand may not be a size 20 in another). We suggest really taking your time to try on your new suit for the first time, it can often take around 15 minutes to squeeze yourself into a tech suit, avoid pulling up the suit with sharp fingernails as this almost always ends in tears!
Let’s face it, performance suits are not firstly designed for comfort, most tech suits are designed for performance/power and to achieve this some sacrifices have to be made. Your race suit is likely to feel much tighter than your normal training swimwear. However, racing suits shouldn't be so tight as to cut off blood flow or cause pain/ extreme discomfort.
Popular Features Of Competitive Swimsuits
Some of these features can be unique to certain brands, and others can be found across a variety of different brands. Take a look below at some of the top performance features to look out for and discover how they can help you!
Bonded seams are possibly the most common feature that is incorporated into a competitive swimsuit. Making a performance swimsuit almost look seamless, manufacturers use a variety of techniques including heat bonding and welding to secure the material together, this, in turn, directs the water flow improving efficiency and making it that bit closer to feeling like a second skin!
Water Repellency (often referred to as hydrophobic treatment) does exactly what it says, it repels water. But how can this help you? Well repelling water while you’re in the suit improves speed and helps streamline the body. By actively repelling water, your suit stays drier and therefore much more lightweight. Some suits claim to trap tiny air bubbles next to the surface of the suit, reducing the surface friction, allowing you to cut the water with even less resistance! Water repellency is often teamed with extra quick drying properties, keeping the suit lightweight and flexible in the water.
As seen in other sports and medical uses, muscle compression has numerous benefits. It improves blood flow, in turn, helping to remove lactic acid and other nasties that cause muscles to become sore and ache after vigorous exercise. Muscular compression works to support your muscles in their hour of need! Reducing vibrations/oscillations in the muscle which would usually result in a loss of energy, or energy spent in the wrong direction, helping to focus all of your power to ‘fire’ in the right direction and give you maximum propulsion!
Compression also helps to aid in the hydrodynamic profile of a swimmer, squeezing the body to give you a more streamlined body profile.
You will occasionally see products boasting that the placement of their seams is making a difference to your stroke, this is completely true, Adidas, for example, designed the Adizero XVI tech suits around certain specific strokes as kicking methods vary. Their breaststroke specific products have different seam placements on the legs in order to provide the correct support for the muscles used during breaststroke. The freestyle version works in a similar way, with seam placements very much optimized for freestyle swimmers.
When you’re searching through the Arena and MadWave performance ranges, you might see them refer to their ‘Carbon Cage’. This is essentially carbon strands woven throughout the suits, providing targeted compression to muscle groups. The Carbon Fibre strands provide a lightweight, but very strong core for the racing suits and brings with it some excellent performance/compression benefits.
How Do You Determine How Fast A Suit Is?
Well nobody can really answer a question if one suit is faster than another, all of our performance suits are packed full of advanced technologies which will all aid you in swimming your fastest. A key feature you should always look out for in a racing suit is its water repellency, after all, you wouldn't want your suit slowing you down! Other features such as bonded seams and panelled construction are more vital features that can really make the difference on race day.
Without getting too technical into how the brain works, we’ll try and keep this bit simple! The design of a suit isn’t really a performance enhancing feature, but a big part of a competitive race is the mental aspect, if you don't feel confident in the way you look it will really hold you back in the water! We have some beautiful looking suits, some of our personal favourites are the TYR Avictor range, Arena Carbon Air, and the brand new ProSwimwear exclusive range of Speedo Competitive swimsuits!
Prices, Are You Paying Too Much?
Now, onto the big one, the topic we get questioned about the most, the price! Is a £400 tech suit better than a £30 pound one? Well, Yes and No. A Top spec racing suit will boast all of the top features and latest technologies designed to help shave seconds off your PB whereas a cheaper suit may be more comfortable and might even last a bit longer but won't make you much faster and certainly won't benefit your muscles in any way. If you’re happy spending out for a high spec racing suit then we would highly recommend it, but if perhaps it's your first race, we would suggest you opt for something less costly.
Durable FINA Suits, Do They Exist?
You may already be aware, elite level FINA racing suits are not designed for swimming in regularly, most last around 8-10 races before beginning to lose water repellency, compression and even colour. So what if you have just started your swimming career and don't yet want to fork out hundreds for one of these suits? Well, a couple of the top brands have you covered, Arena has their range of Powerskin ST suits while speedo's answer is the Junior Endurance + suits both of these ranges boast an excellent resistance to chlorine, great comfort and are FINA approved for racing all while being extremely affordable.
Of course, the variety of suits we offer is the largest in Europe and you won't find them at better prices! So have a little shop around our racing swimsuit category and have a read of the product features. We offer competitive swimsuits for all abilities and at prices to suit all budgets. Read up on what other customers have said and if you get really stuck, then feel free to contact us directly or via social media and we’ll do our best to help you pick the right one!