The latest fashion trends shouldn’t dictate what you wear while swimming. Of course, you can pick swimsuits with patterns and colours that you like, but, ultimately, the fabric type matters most.
Common Fabrics Used in Swimsuits
These days, most swimsuits use nylon, Lycra (Spandex) and polyester.
- Nylon—very durable and close-fitting, but it discolours and becomes stiffer with frequent use.
- Lycra—a soft, stretchy fabric that allows the body to move freely; however, its elasticity eventually wears down and the fabric will sag.
- Polyester—thick, strong and long-lasting (albeit less breathable), affected least by chemicals in the water and constant use.
All swimsuits combine the materials above; it’s the ratio of fabrics that determines the price tag. For instance, a nylon-heavy pair of swim trunks will cost less than one made primarily from polyester. Although most expensive, polyester swimsuits are the best for competitive swimming.
Besides the material, consider the swimsuit’s fit. The most important criteria are that it stays on, doesn’t restrict your motion and doesn’t add too much friction to your strokes. Tight materials satisfy all three requirements—loose fabrics only get in the way and can chafe the skin. For women, particularly, lose fabrics also raise coverage concerns.