How to Buy Women's Swimsuits
For competitive swimming as well as aquatic fitness activities, such as lap swimming and
water aerobics, a good swimsuit will increase your efficiency in the water, keep you feeling comfortable
during your activity, and stand up better to the deteriorating effects of chlorinated water than most fashion
Determine Your Size
To determine your swimsuit size, you'll need to measure yourself using a tape measure.
- Take your measurements while wearing only your underwear
- Stand in front of a mirror
- While measuring, make sure that the tape measure is straight, not twisted
- To get an accurate measurement, the tape measure should be snug, but not pinching or tight
Step-by-Step Measuring Guide
- Step one: measure your waist
- Find your natural waistline by bending to one side. While standing straight,
measure around your waistline.
- Step two: measure your bust
- Measure around the fullest part of your bust. If this measurement is between numbers, it should be
rounded, either up or down, to nearest whole number.
- Step three: measure your torso
- Run the tape measure around your body from your shoulder where your bra strap rests over the
fullest part of your bust, down through the center of your crotch, and back up to the starting point
at the shoulder
Find Your Size
- Consult the chart below to determine which size matches your measurements.
- The first suit size row represents a woman's dress size, and is often used in fashion or aquatic fitness swimsuits.
- The second row represents racing/competitive swimsuit sizes.
- If you are between sizes, choose the smaller size in a racing/competition suit and
the larger size in an aquatic fitness suit
Determining Your Suit Size
|Torso||58||59||60||61 1/2||63||64 1/2||66
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Determine How You'll Use Your Suit
To select the right suit, first determine the activity for which you'll be wearing the suit most often:
Racing/Competitive swimming which includes both practicing and racing at
either the school or club level
Aquatic Fitness which includes activities such as lap swimming and water
For both training and competition, competitive swimmers need high-performance suits that maximize speed in
the water and improve glide times by reducing drag and increasing water flow. Many swimmers buy separate
suits for training and competition. For both training and competition, compression,
resulting in a tight fit, is the key.
- For training, buy your normal size, but realize that the fit will be snugger than that of a regular
- For competition, consider buying a suit at least one size smaller than your training suit
- Swimsuits for both training and competition support through compression
- Women's competition suits do not include any kind of bra or bust support. A tight fit across
the chest creates a more streamlined silhouette for the swimmer, reducing drag and increasing
- Suits for top-level competition are not lined, since reducing drag is a priority. However,
many women's suits for training are front-lined.
- A suit with lining will generally last longer, and hold its shape and color better than an
- Suits for competition and training are one-piece, usually with moderately cut leg openings, fairly
and either high backs or racer styleX, Y or
V backs for a secure fit and freedom of movement
- Some high performance racing suits come with high zipper backs for the ultimate
- Although there are many hybrid fabrics for racing/competitive swimming
swimsuits for this sport are done in blends of nylon/spandex. (Lycra is a specific brand of spandex made by DuPont and
is found in many swimsuits.)
- Improvements in fiber engineering have resulted in swimsuit materials that are more resistant to
chlorine than ever. Suits for racing/competitive swimming typically use these more durable versions
of nylon and spandex.
- For lap swimming and water aerobics, you will need a suit that provides comfort and freedom of
movement, plus coverage and support
- Fit should be snug but not tight. A good fitting suit will stay in place during vigorous movement,
but not pinch, bind or ride up in the seat.
- Most women's swimsuits for aquatic fitness will include some type of bust support. Finding a
suit with proper
support, which will help reduce breast motion during exercise, is especially important for water aerobics. There are 3
basic types of bust support in swimwear:
Shelf bras: Most suits will feature this type of light coverage and
Soft cup bras: Some suits will offer this type of extra support. This
type of support is recommended for women with C cup and larger bust sizes.
Underwire bras: For the most support available in women's swimwear,
look for suits with underwire bras. This type of support is most appropriate for women
with larger busts.
- Look for suits with front lining. A suit with lining will generally last longer, and hold its
shape and color better than an unlined suit.
- Fitness swimmers and those who do water aerobics have a wide selection of styles from which to
one-piece and two-piece styles are available and appropriate for aquatic fitness activities like lap swimming and
- Your comfort level in the style will determine which is right for you. Keep in mind that if you
will be wearing
the suit primarily for fitness or exercise purposes, fashion considerations should be secondary to more functional
- Two-piece swimsuits
- Make sure both the top and bottom offer the coverage, security and support you'll need
during vigorous movements
- Bottoms should have low to moderately cut leg openings and a slightly higher rise than a
- Tops should reach at least several inches below where your bra band typically hits
- The newly popular tankini style, a tank style top with a bikini brief bottom, has a top
that hits just above the waist
- Necklines should be slightly higher than most fashion swimsuits, straps should be wider to
offer support, and backs should feature a racer style for comfort, support and freedom of
- One-piece swimsuits
- Look for suits with low to moderately cut leg openings
- Necklines should be slightly higher than most fashion swimsuits
- Straps should be wider to offer support
- Although tank style suits are available, most women benefit from the additional support
offered by racer style X, Y or V backs. These back styles also offer greater comfort and
freedom of movement.
- Most swimsuits for aquatic fitness activities are done in blends of nylon/spandex. (Lycra is
a specific brand of spandex made by DuPont and is found in many swimsuits.)
- Suits made with specially engineered chlorine resistant nylon and spandex will have a longer
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Find the Most Flattering Swimsuit Style for Your Body Type
Matching suit styles and designs to your body type will help ensure that you'll not only feel good and
perform well in your new suit, but look good, too.
- Ample bust
- A dark solid color at the top of the suit with a pattern at the bottom will draw the eye
- Sturdy straps and full coverage at the neckline and armholes will add support
- Smaller chest
- Bright colors, prints or diagonal stripes across the chest area will visually enhance your
- Large Tummy/Waist
Slimming stripes or color blocking at the waist can
create the illusion of a slimmer middle
- High-waisted bikini bottoms may also divert the eye from the midriff
- Long torso
- Look for suits offered in long torso sizes
- Two-piece suits can also eliminate fit problems for lady swimmers with long torsos
- Large hips and thighs
- Look for suits with vertical patterns and stripes, or suits that feature a bright color at the
chest and a darker color below to draw attention away from the lower body
- Higher cut leg openings can also create a slimming illusion, but don't sacrifice appropriate
coverage for style
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When to Replace Your Swimsuit
- Despite the advances in fiber technology, chlorine will eventually deteriorate swimsuit fabrics.
When your suit
begins to bag or feels looser than when it was new, it is time to replace your suit.
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