If you taking your swimming seriously, it is important to make sure that the swimsuits worn are durable and comfortable. When choosing a swimsuit for swimming workouts, the material of the suit is the most important factor for finding a swimsuit that will hold it’s shape, remain comfortable, and last as long as possible.
The three most common and basic types of materials used for swimsuits are nylon, Lycra, and polyester.
We’ve listed the pros and cons of each swimsuit material below to help you choose the best swimsuit fabric for your swimming lessons.
1) Nylon –
Nylon is the most common material for swimsuits and is found in almost all suits.
- Strong and durable material
- Holds a snug fit on the body
- Exposure to sun and chlorine will cause the colors in the suit fade over time
- Elasticity wears thin over time
2) Spandex / Elastane (Lycra)
This material is found in most suits because it is comfortable to wear and is very flexible.
- Stretch material
- Moves with body well
- Soft and Comfortable
- Does not hold up well to repeated exposure to chlorine
- Will eventually lose its elasticity and sag
Price Range: High
Polyester based swimsuits are mostly used for training swimsuits due to the duration and strength of the fabric. Athletic and swimwear brands like TYR’s Durafast and Nike’s Polyester suits are primarily polyester.
- Holds strength over time
- Durable and withstands chlorine
- Lasts a very long time
- Less commonly found in department stores
- Less stretchy
- Thicker and less breathable
It is rare to find suits that are made from only one of these materials. Most suits feature a combination to benefit from the best attributes of each fabric. The basic fabric blends are the most affordable. However, cheaper swimsuits from department or clothing stores like Target, Walmart, and fashion stores are typically lower in quality and will lose their shape very quickly.
Price Range: Highest
New fabrics have been created to make swimsuits that are both comfortable and flexible as well as long lasting. These latest technologies include Polyester PBT, Xtra Life Lycra, and branded technologies by the top athletic and swim companies.
Xtra Life Lycra
This material is an improved version of regular Lycra designed especially for swimwear. Many swimwear brands like Speedo and Reebok have swimsuits with about 20% XtraLife Lycra. - Comfortable and stretchy like regular Lycra - Withstands chlorine - Will still eventually lose shape after extended wear - Garment will hold shape and elasticity longer
Poly PBT is a new variation of polyester with more stretch. Speedo’s Endurance line and Kiefer’s Aqualast suits are 50% polyester and 50% PBT. These suits have the durability of regular polyester plus:
- Quick drying
- Low water absorbency
- Withstands chlorine and holds color pigment
- More stretch, flexibility, and comfort
Most swimwear manufacturers, such as Nike and Speedo have introduced their own branded fabric blends. The attributes of these fabrics vary by brand, but most claim to be:
- Chlorine resistant
- Comfortable and stretchy
- Long lasting
- Retains shape and fit
- Lightweight and fast drying
Some examples of these branded fabrics are Kiefer XLA, Nike NX and Performance Poly, or Arena Waterfeel. These materials were developed by the brands individually and are only available through their retailers.
If you want a swimsuit that will last a long time, which is especially important if you plan on spending a lot of time in the water during the summer, whether for fun, swim lessons or training, we recommend a polyester or polyester blend swimsuit because it is the most durable. While polyester may be more expensive than nylon and lycra, this is the best swimsuit material because it will hold up much longer, resulting in better long term value.