Competitive Swimming Suits
Women's Swimming Suits
Women's swimwear is a large category, with many options for the consumer to choose from, but when it comes to competition or fitness swimming, not just any swimming suit will do.
Men's Swimming Suits
When it comes to men's competition swimming suits, there are not as many options. As far as practice goes, men can choose between three main styles: briefs (aka speedos), square leg, and jammers.
For male and female suits, the sizing is usually in inches, which can make it difficult for women to know their size in a suit. For example, a size 36 is equivalent to a size 10, but just like clothing, sizes vary by manufacturer, so if you have never bought a suit from a particular maker, get a size larger than normal to make sure it fits. For men, the sizing is equivalent to buying a pair of pants, size 32 waist= size 32 speedo.
Buying a racing suit? The biggest mistake people make when choosing a competition suit is to get one that is too big. Swimming suits are going to fit tight and they will stretch out over time, so if you buy a suit that is originally loose, it will only get baggier as time goes on. The rule of thumb when buying a racing suit is to find the size you are comfortable in, and get a size lower (at least). For women, if you can pull the straps up beyond your ears, the suit is too big.
Technical Suits vs. Fitness Suits:
For most of us, we will never need to purchase a technical suit. These are the suits that look like something out of Star Trek, are made of some high-tech material and may cover the swimmer from wrist to ankle in some cases. These suits can range anywhere from $60 to over $250 and are designed to be used only in the highest of competitive events such as high school regional, state or national finals, club swimming finals, and the olympics.
Like I said, there is probably no reason for the average swimmer to spend that kind of money on these types of swimming suits unless he or she is competing at one of these high levels. For most purposes, a mid-priced practice suit is more than enough, but should still have the basic features of a competitive suit such as a high neck and crossed back.
If you are looking to purchase a technical suit, make sure you know the specific rules regarding suits in your competition. Sometimes there are rules concerning how much a suit may cover and it would be a shame to buy a $250 full body suit only to find out you're only allowed above-the-knee suits.
Discount Swimming Suits:
Competition swimwear can be very expensive and gets worn out very quickly. Be prepared to go through 1-2 suits a season if you are very active. I say don't spend big bucks on a suit that you only need for practice, since it will wear out quickly and stock up on cheap practice suits whenever you find a sale.
I periodically check my local sporting goods stores for swim suits on sale for under $20 (that's about as cheap as you can find women's suits), or I stock up on cheap suits online. I like SwimOutlet.com's clearance corner, where I can stock up on cheap swimming suits for around $20, sometimes less.
Another way to get great deals on suits is to buy a
suit. You pick the size, but the company picks the color and style from past season inventory and overstock. You get a cheaper price, but don't know what kind of patterns you'll get. This is a great option if you just need to stock up on some practice suits and don't care what they look like.