For some women, buying a swimsuit is one of the most daunting shopping experiences imaginable. There are so many options to choose from, and the prospect of trying on piles of different models, many unflattering, is undeniably discouraging.
It’s worth trying on a few different models to make sure you find one that works for you, because having the right swimsuit can make a big difference in your training, both physically and psychologically. But having a clear idea of what you’re looking for before you head to the shops can help make the process less frustrating.
First of all, the fit should be snug but not tight, and the suit should be comfortable and stay in place while you are swimming. Whether you’re diving, swimming laps or doing aquagym, you need to be able to move freely without worrying about tight elastic constricting in the wrong place or fabric slipping at an inopportune moment. If you’re unsure of the size, pick the smaller rather than the larger option, as the fabric will stretch more when it is wet. If you’re looking for greater coverage, don’t just pick a larger size, because the fabric will likely gap and not provide the support you need; choose a different style instead.
For a training swimsuit, performance is one of the most important characteristics, of course, and that means you need a suit that offers minimal drag in the water, provides support and coverage where needed, and allows freedom of movement.
You’ll want to choose a back shape that matches your swimming style. Your choice will depend on the balance you’re looking for between freedom of movement and support. The swimsuits with the most open backs are designed for serious, high-level swimmers who need absolute flexibility and freedom of movement. Arena calls these backs ‘freedom backs’, and they are available with a variety of different strap structures. These swimsuits are ideal for athletic use and have a look that is sporty but still stylish.
‘Ergonomic backs’ provide greater support and a more ergonomic fit for maximum comfort. These models include styles with inner bras and/or adjustable straps. Women with larger bust sizes are likely to find a better fit with these models.
Another variable to look at is leg cut. Arena’s training swimsuit collection includes styles with high, medium and low leg cuts. The leg cut is a matter of personal preference, and it highlights another consideration, beyond fit and performance: your body shape.
Whether you’re heading to the starting block for your first race or just walking around the pool after a training session, knowing that you look your best can give you extra confidence. Although training swimsuits are designed more for function than fashion, you can still choose a suit that flatters your particular figure.
So, back to leg cut. Leg cut is one of the elements of a swimsuit’s style that can help create visual balance. If you have short legs, a high cut can make them appear longer, while a low cut can elongate the torso.
The neckline can play a role as well. If you have a wider midsection, for example, a V-neck suit can draw the eye upward toward your bust and face. A horizontal neckline can draw attention to your shoulders.
Most training swimsuits are one-piece suits, but Arena does offer some two-piece options as well. These can break up the visual length of a long torso, for example.
And don’t forget colour and pattern. Different colours complement different skin tones, of course, and (in the pool as on dry land) black tends to be slimming. Choose a design with vertical lines if you want to appear taller or thinner, or with horizontal lines for the opposite effect. Large-scale prints work best on taller or thinner swimmers.
In the end, the most important criterion is that you like your swimsuit. And you’ll like it better (and maybe even want to train more) if you feel good in it and it’s a good match for how you swim.
Do you have any additional tips for women choosing training swimwear?