A Guide to Choosing Swimwear for Men
29th June 2017.When most men think of swimwear, the standard pair of swim trunks we all see at the beach is what comes first to mind. However, is that really the extent of what men can choose from for swimwear? Far from it; in fact, there are a variety of types suitable for a similar range of situations. The material that these swimsuits are made of differs too, and that matters more than you might think. Whether you plan to swim solo for fitness, compete in a race, or you're just going on holiday, you should know your options. What should you look for when shopping? The answer will depend largely on what you intend to do in the water, and where you are planning to swim. The pool is a much different environment than a lake or the ocean, and competitive swimming demands much more than a dip in a hotel pool. It might even be wise to purchase more than one swimsuit to allow you to maintain a sporty wardrobe for any occasion. With that said, let's begin by looking at the different types of men's swimwear out there. Each of these has its pros and cons, and it's there where you can start narrowing down your choices.
What's on the market for men's swimwear?
If you've just Googled around, you've probably seen a tonne of different names for swimwear. Trunks you know ? but what about jammers, rash guards, and other strange terms? When you get down to the details, it's not so complicated. What's important to know is that generally speaking, swimwear differs mostly in the cut and how tightly it fits your body. Let's break down the most common terminology. When you think of swim trunks, you might think of a garment that closely resembles shorts you'd wear outside the water. That's true, but they can also be much shorter ? ending near the middle of your thighs. Others can come down to your knees. These are a good general-purpose option. A sub-type of trunks, board shorts are also longer but tend to much simpler in design. These rarely have the pockets that trunks feature, and often only rely on a drawstring for a close fit. Everyone knows the "speedo" ? also called swim briefs. Though they don't leave much to the imagination, they're excellent for speed and comfort. You'll most often spot these on indoor swimmers. Square-cut shorts combine the close fit of swim briefs with the extended coverage of board shorts or regular trunks. The length can vary here also. Jammers are similar to wetsuits, except they often expose the arms and end above the knees. Many competitive swimmers use jammers due to their hydrodynamic properties. A full wetsuit is usually reserved for surfing in cold water or for diving activities, and not so much swimming in the pool. Rash guards are similar to wetsuits, but they are thinner and looser, helping to protect your body from UV exposure while staying comfortable in and out of the water. Overall, these are the types of men's swimwear you will most often encounter.
Think about your body and what it needs
Now that you know some of the styles that are available, how do you choose the one that's best for your needs? The selection process is where you want to start thinking about how you like to move in the water and which strokes you practice most often. Of course, if you're planning to go on holiday instead, your considerations might be much different. Before we get to that, let's think generally about the specific things you should consider. Reflect on the freedom of movement you require in the water. If you're engaged in a passive activity like water skiing, you won't need too much freedom. Protecting your body becomes more important. However, in an indoor pool doing a freestyle swim, it's important that your arms and legs retain as much freedom as possible. Otherwise, you will find that the stroke becomes harder and you tire out at a faster pace. How comfortable are you with close-fitting clothing? Not everyone enjoys a tight swimsuit, even if it affords them a speed advantage. The fitting ties in with freedom of motion, but it also affects the features you look for in swimwear. For example, do you prefer an elastic waistband or would you rather use a drawstring? In some cases, the snugger fit will prevent you from losing your swimsuit in fast or turbulent water. Spare yourself from a potentially embarrassing incident and always wear a swimsuit appropriate for your activity.
Choosing the appropriate swimwear material
Style and form are important, but so is what your swimsuit uses. Some suits have more stretch but retain their original shape, while others will stand up to the rigours of the pool. When you're shopping, you might want to check the tag on the swimwear you consider. Not only will it help you make an informed decision, but it will give you an idea of how to care for it later. Polyester suits are the most common, especially in competitive circles. You'll find that polyester is often blended with another, more flexible material, like Lycra, to provide it with some "give," Polyester holds its shape very well, so it will not stretch out and deform over time. Choose polyester every time if you need comfort and durability in a fitness or competitive environment. It even provides some UV resistance ? excellent if you're wearing a bodysuit. Nylon suits are also common and very popular for their low cost. Opt for this when you want something that dries quickly and won't continue to hold on to water long after you've left the beach. Skip nylon if you're exclusively swimming in a pool ? the chlorine can cause the fabric to fade and eventually fray. Besides these two main types of fabric, you will find many blends combining the two with other types of material, like neoprene. Speak to a clerk in your athletic store to discuss the specific advantages and disadvantages of some of these blends.
Considerations for fitness versus holiday swimming
Overall, if you intend to swim for fitness, avoid baggy swim trunks and board shorts. These are ideal for a comfortable day of relaxing on holiday, but they will absorb too much water and create drag in the pool. That slows you down and drops your split times. If you aren't comfortable with swim briefs ? and don't worry, many guys aren't! ? then we suggest you try on a pair of jammers or square-cut shorts. These will have the opposite effect, reducing the drag on your body. Wetsuits are overkill for the pool; save those for an occasion that really calls for one. As for going on holiday, prioritise comfort and fast-drying fabrics. An elastic band will ensure you don't have to consistently re-tie a string throughout the day (if you plan to use swimwear as clothing). If you intend to head out on the water, a suit with more UV-resistant coverage is a smart choice to prevent sunburn. Avoid anything that is too form-fitting for extended periods of time, as this can cause chafing and general discomfort. Don't forget that caring for your new swimwear is important, too. Once you get out of the water and remove your outfit, don't just toss it aside. Proper care can help to extend its life. If you've gone swimming in a pool, for example, wash your swimwear under cool running water to remove any excess chlorine and help prevent damage to the fabric over time. It can also remove sand and salt from the beach ? these could have just as many deleterious effects as chlorine.
Suit up and dive in to the world of men's swimwear
If at first it seems like this is a lot to think about just to go swimming, take a deep breath. It's not too complicated: at the end of the day, you really just need to ask yourself fundamental questions. How active will I be? Where do I want to swim? Do I need to stay dry and comfortable out of the water, or am I aiming for speed and agility? Break it down, and you'll have no trouble finding what you need from the athletic store. Don't be afraid to break out of your comfort zone, either. Sometimes, the best swimwear comes in a style you've never tried before. Follow @SportNessUK