fitness and sports

16 Swim Coach-Approved Swimsuits for Women

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Swimming is renowned as one of the best forms of exercise out there — it’s a full-body workout, an excellent form of cardio, and plunging into the water can be a refreshing way to clear your head. But whether you’re a competitive swimmer or just enjoy the occasional half-hour of breaststroke, you’ll get more out of your swim if you’re wearing the right suit.

“When I look for a swimsuit, I want it to feel tight and secure,” says Kelsi Dahlia, an Olympian and associate swim coach at the University of Notre Dame. Getting the perfect fit can be a balancing act, as Dahlia explains. “I want to make sure that there won’t be a chance for the suit to come up and chafe, and I don’t want it to be too baggy in different areas, like on the butt or the hips when I’m swimming — you don’t want to feel any drag.” The suit that works best for you will keep everything in place without holding you back when moving your arms and kicking your legs.

We asked Dahlia and eight other experts (including coaches, triathletes, swim instructors and even a professional mermaid) to share their favorite athletic suits for women. They’re practical enough for thrashing up and down the lanes but also don’t compromise on poolside style. Read on for the best solid training suits, long-sleeved suits, and suits for larger busts.

Best solid women’s training bathing suits

“I would call this suit my old faithful,” says Gia Wright, a swim instructor at Evolutionary Aquatics in Charlotte, who swims three to four times a week. “I can really wear it under any circumstances. It’s traditional and comfortable.” This racerback feels secure, and the slightly higher waist provides a good level of coverage too. Wright feels that Nike suits are worth their price, thanks to their durability — “They’re very long-lasting,” she notes. And, if you want to extend the life of your swimsuit, then it’s worth looking after it properly. “The best way to care for a suit is to rinse it in cold water and hang it to dry,” Wright adds. “I would not advise putting your swimsuit in a washing machine or dryer.”

Most TYR suits are made of a durable material that provides UV protection, and according to Dahlia, “they last a really long time”. She especially likes the shape of the cutout: “This cutout shape is flattering, but it also provides the least amount of coverage”. This suit is also a favorite of Kasia Sawicz, assistant coach of the Chelsea Piers Masters Swim Team, who was drawn to its thin, flexible straps. “When the straps are too constricting, it affects your overall swim,” she explains. The soft color palette has an aquatic feel – opt for Latigo Bay or Storm for a pretty twist on a typical blue suit.

Monica Cheng, who posts on TikTok as fivefeettriathlete, recommends this classic suit as a great all-rounder, especially for those just starting out. “I think this one can fit everyone’s needs, but I would probably recommend it more for beginners,” she says. “It has slightly thick straps and a racer back, so it’s super-supportive.” It’s not as aerodynamic as other suits, but the mid-height cut in the leg, along with the inbuilt shelf bra, mean that everything will stay in place. And, as Cheng notes, Speedo fabrics are known to be durable — essential when you’re doing regular training in chlorinated water.

This Nike suit can work for different bust sizes, as Cheng explains. “It has cups in the bathing suit — I don’t use them, but they’re removable, so you have that option.” The competitive fit, racerback style, and chlorine-resistant fabric make it a hardworking suit that can handle serious training, like the sessions Cheng is undertaking in preparation for her upcoming Ironman triathlon. However, the contrast piping detail adds a pretty twist to the otherwise traditional suit. “Typically I go for a darker color, but I definitely like the style of this suit,” says Cheng.

This long-lasting suit is a favorite of both Cheng and Wright. “Picking a good swimsuit has always been a critical part of my swimming involvement, and I always look to see if the material is going to be durable,” Wright says. The tight fit of this one piece makes it a good option for those who prioritize a form-fitting suit. “If it’s not tight, you can get water or air trapped in the suit, and that drags you down,” says Cheng. Wright agrees that this suit provides a balance of compression and comfort. “The straps on this suit are closer to the neck, so you get more shoulder mobility,” adds Cheng. “It’s also higher in the leg and higher in the neck.”

According to certified race official, race director and two-time Ironman, Christine Frietchen, Jolyn suits are popular with college athletes and lifeguards owing to their clever design. “Those with more of a swimmer’s build — wide back and shoulders, narrow hips — swear by Jolyn suits,” she says. The adjustable ties can be made as tight as you like, and these suits wouldn’t look out of place on the beach either.

Best patterned women’s training bathing suits

Alison Kreideweis, co-founder of Empire Tri Club, loves this unique suit so much that she is planning to repurchase it soon. The Vaziri line was founded by Leila Vaziri, a competitive swimmer (and former backstroke world-record holder) who once coached for Empire Tri Club. “She designed these to be more of a fashion suit for competitive athletes,” says Kreideweis, who points out the “cool looking” style with mesh panels. “They’re supportive, so even though they look like they’re a little bit of a nicer suit, they’re not going to fall off of you if you’re swimming laps.”

These bright suits are sure to brighten up early morning training sessions. “They come in some seriously zany colors,” says Frietchen. “I always get compliments on them.” They’re also one of our most reasonably priced options.

Wright likes that these suits are “a little bit more stylish” than most compression suits. “They have mild compression, although the compression isn’t overwhelming,” she says. It’s easy to wear and “doesn’t put so much strain on the back,” thanks to the comfortable fit. “It allows for free movement because the straps are thinner,” Wright notes. The neckline is also high enough to secure against any wardrobe malfunctions while you swim, and the seams lay flat against your body.

Photo: retailer

Dahlia considers the Tetrafit, with its stylish crisscrossed back, her comfort suit. “The straps are a little looser — on days where I’m maybe swimming at a lower level, doing a recovery swim, I like that,” she says. For those who like a high leg, TYR suits are the way to go, “These styles have a pretty high cut in the hip, and I wouldn’t say any of them are particularly modest in the butt area,” says Dahlia. It’s also chlorineproof with an anti-microbial lining and comes in block colors or more fun designs (like this night sky version). “TYR have a lot of really cool patterns and are always coming out with new stuff,” says Dahlia.

Best women’s training bathing suit for larger breasts

The Q Swimwear Classic Strap is a suit of choice for both Tara Thompson, and Alisha King, swim coaches at Evolutionary Aquatics. The Q size range is very inclusive, providing ample coverage across the bust. “What I love about the Q Classic Strap is that it provides me the upper body support that I need and the straps don’t dig into my shoulders, due to their width,” says Alisha. “I would recommend the Classic Strap to any female swimmer, but especially to swimmers who are looking for a little more upper body support.” And there are even options for people who fall outside the off-the-peg sizes, notes Tara. “I think most of the swimsuits are tailored for smaller people, so I really like Q since they do custom orders — I’ll just have to make a phone call and say, ‘Hey, I need a bigger size,’ and most of the time they can accommodate me,” she explains. The Classic Strap comes in a range of patterns and shades, from glitter to neon.

“This might ruffle a couple of feathers, but for the past year I’ve been using Skims bathing suits,” says Paulina Lamonier, CEO and founder of Black People Will Swim, a swim education program based in New York. “I’m looking for suits where I’m not compromising style. From a plus-size point of view, Skims was the best option for me.” The Zip Front One Piece is available in nine sizes, from XXS to 4XL, and has the contouring quality the Skims brand is known for. Lamonier likes the adjustable zip — “I want my suit to look cute but still be functional.”

She also loves wearing the Skims Metallic Swim Cycle Suit, thanks to its combination of sportiness and sparkle.

Best long sleeve women’s training suits

There are many reasons you might want a long-sleeved swimsuit, including UPF protection. “I look more for coverage,” says Thompson. “That tends to work best for me, I feel more comfortable.” The zipper down the front makes it easy to get on and off, and it also has a high neckline. If you go swimming outdoors, it will provide some extra protection from the elements. “We swim year round, so sometimes it’s really cold, like in the winter, and I will wear this suit,” says Tara. And, with UPF-50 protection, it could also work on a sunny day of water sports too.

“I love Gigi C — they have a beautiful collection of high-quality materials with stunning colors, streamlined cuts and designs,” says professional mermaid Felicia Flaherty. The long-sleeve suit is great for outdoor swims but also casual surfing or paddleboarding, and the zipper means you can create the neckline you want. Plus the laser-cut pattern down the arms and slides makes this a striking design. “They are sport friendly and chic,” says Flaherty.

Best racing-style women’s bathing suit

Racing suits were once usually worn by athletes, which often made them prohibitively expensive. However, midrange suits are now appearing on the market, offering an option for those who want enhanced performance but aren’t competing at a professional level. This suit by Finis bridges the gap, so amateur swimmers can try out longer legs without committing to buying a suit with an elite price tag. Finis “has actually become my preferred brand for racing suits,” says Sawicz. “I have two of their tech suits — each is a different model — and love them both. The price is affordable as well.”

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16 Swim Coach-Approved Swimsuits for Women