If you’re swimming for fitness, what should you look for in a decent swimsuit? The answer is comfortable, non-restrictive fabric that fits snugly and doesn’t drag in the water during training – you should hardly notice you’re wearing it. Of course you’ll also want to choose something that suits your body shape, but that aside, serious swimmers need non-moving fabric that doesn’t restrict arms and legs, and a costume that doesn’t lose its shape or absorb too much water, as it will slow you down in the pool.
There are tonnes of sporty swimsuits on the market – some in the same size range as clothes (six to 16), while others come in small, medium and large sizes, depending on the brand. Some are designed to streamline the body and boost your technique by drawing in the core, some are made with fabric that protects you from the sun and others are made with a little extra support. Good ones last from a couple of years to forever if you stick to low-temperature washes or hand washing – some brands such as Zoggs give lifetime guarantees if you follow their care instructions. We’ve tested a range of swimsuits in the pool for fit, shape, comfort and durability to help you find one that fits your needs.
1. Speedo Fit Pinnacle X-Back Swimsuit: £52, Speedo
Strong core muscle support is this costume’s USP. By drawing attention to and holding in your mid-section it encourages you to keep a better position in the water, which we could really feel as we were swimming. There’s secure, all-round bust support too, and the comfortable cross-back straps aren’t going anywhere. The swimsuit is firm-fitting but lightweight, and stretchy enough so that it doesn’t feel restricting in the pool – plus the chlorine-resistant, long-lasting fabric dries fast.
2. Sweaty Betty Dolphin Swimsuit: £60, Sweaty Betty
This all-black Sweaty Betty number, with its cut-out back and double-strap detail, is one of the more stylish options on our list. And the supportive, light-weight fabric with an added bra shelf makes it a serious contender for comfort too. The vertical panels flatter and add shape, helping to streamline your swim. It was fast drying and incredibly comfortable to wear, not moving when swimming either. Sizes range from XS-XL.
3. MP Michael Phelps Womens Domino Swimsuit: £34.99, Amazon
This costume is part of a collaboration with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, swimming coach Bob Bowman and pro swimwear brand AquaSphere. It’s got UV protection factor (UPF) of 50+, sun cream resistance, and it’s made from “Xlance”, a breathable, eco-friendly fabric that’s 100 per cent recycled, and just as comfortable as other suits. We were a little sceptical about the open back and thin straps on this one, as we were concerned they were going to move around too much in the water, but they stayed put – in fact, we hardly noticed they were there during a brisk front-crawl. It was also dry in three hours. It comes in a range of different designs and colours – from Rio 2016 patterns to multi-coloured tie dye-style prints.
4. Adidas by Stella McCartney Performance Swimsuit: £59.99, Adidas
As well as having a Stella McCartney cheetah-print design (also available in black and granite, and with matching caps, if you’re into co-ordinating your sports gear), this costume is cut for comfortable swimming with a racer back, high legs and a snug fit. It’s also made with recycled polyester as part of a sustainable product programme to decrease emissions.
5. Zoggs Active Sport Tuncurry High-Neck Swimsuit: £32, Fig Leaves
This is lightweight and easy to swim in. It’s not for busty ladies as there’s no bra support, but great for anyone after a no-frills suit that’s comfortable and non-restrictive, with a zip-up back. It’s also part of the durable Aqualast range, with a lifetime guarantee – Zoggs will replace any suits that perish, providing you follow a list of (pretty reasonable) garment care instructions, including not rinsing after use and don’t tumble dry. It’s got UPF 50+ too.
6. Roxy Pop Surf One-Piece Swimsuit: £70, Roxy
Made by surf brand Roxy, we really like this swimsuit’s summery design. The smooth, light skin-hugging neoprene fabric is good for sea-swimmers – because neoprene is strong and helps you float. It’s also anti-microbial and stretches well. We like the cut of this suit too – your shoulder blades are uncovered, keeping you unrestricted, and the suit didn’t drag at all in the water. There’s a zip back, but the puller wasn’t long enough to be noticeable when swimming.
7. AquaSphere Womens Tequila Swimming Costume: £22.49, Universal Textiles
We like AquaSphere costumes. They’re durable, don’t absorb too much water and are great when it comes to sun protection. This one is UPF 50+ and feels super light thanks to water-repellent fabric that absorbs less of the wet stuff. The bra support is useful but not restrictive, and we like the flattering design. A decent budget option that comes in black with a range of colour panels such as orange and blue, red and yellow, and pink and blue.
The Verdict: Swimsuits for women
The core-compression panels and added support on the Speedo Fit Pinnacle X-Back Swimsuit won us over, giving us a comfortable, streamlined swim without leaving us feeling restricted.
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