It might seem that men have fewer variables than women to consider when selecting a training swimsuit (see Part 2), but the same basic criteria apply.
In terms of fit, the general considerations are the same for men and women: the fit should be snug but not tight, and the suit should be comfortable and stay in place while you are swimming. For men, this means that if you’re a diver or a lap swimmer who pushes off walls, you’ll want a swimsuit with a drawstring waist.
Whether you swim for fitness or competitively, performance is an issue as well: you want a suit that reduces drag, provides the necessary support and coverage, and allows freedom of movement in the water. Unlike at the beach, where many men opt for board shorts or Bermuda-style swim shorts, baggy doesn’t work at the pool. (In fact, loose-fitting shorts are not even allowed in many pools, especially in France.)
Most good-quality training swimwear of any style will meet the technical requirements for performance, allowing you to focus on improving your technique and endurance without having to think about your suit. (Fabric composition is a separate consideration, though; see Part 1.) So the choice of style often comes down to personal preference, in terms of both what you find most comfortable and the look you like best.
Briefs are the most common type of training swimwear for men. They provide the least coverage (Arena’s briefs, for example, are 7 cm long), but many swimmers consider them to be the most comfortable style for regular swimming because they provide complete freedom of movement and eliminate the potential for chafing.
Those looking for more coverage can choose swim shorts (sometimes called square-leg shorts) that are still form fitting but a bit longer (Arena offers models with 17 cm and 27 cm of hip coverage). These shorts offer virtually the same flexibility and freedom of movement as briefs, but with a bit less exposure.
The third option is jammers, which have become quite popular among both casual and serious swimmers in recent years. Jammers are close fitting and much longer, reaching to mid thigh or just above the knee (Arena’s models are 45 cm long). Most high-performance race swimwear for men is this length, as it reduces drag and provides muscle compression. Many men like jammers for training as well, because of the additional coverage they offer. Just make sure they’re not so tight that they restrict your movement.
Note that if you’re looking for a suit that you can race in as well as train in, make sure it’s approved by your national federation, FINA or whatever the competent authority is.
Body shape comes into play as well when choosing a swimsuit. If you train only by yourself or are confident enough to not care at all about the impression you make, you can wear whatever like. If you’re like most men, though, you’ll feel better in swimwear that is more flattering to your body type (or that at least isn’t actively unflattering!).
If you’re tall and have an athletic build, you’re lucky: you can get away with almost anything. Just pick a colour that complements your skin tone.
If you’re short, you’ll want to avoid long shorts. The higher leg cut offered by briefs will make your legs appear longer. If you’re fit, you can also consider a lower waist to show off your toned abs.
If you’re thin, any style can work, but choose bright colours and bold patterns. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, go with a dark colour with minimal pattern for a slimming effect.
A swimsuit that fits well, meets your swimming needs and flatters your body type will allow you to focus on your workout while you’re in the water and will help you feel confident in or out of the pool.
What’s your favourite style of training swimwear? Briefs, shorts or jammers? Why?