Monday, March 1, 2010

A Guide to Choosing Swimwear for Competitive and Fitness Swimmers

The world of swimwear fashion advice and swimwear tips has largely left serious swimmers to their own devices when choosing a swim suit. While the appearance of a swimsuit may not be as compelling an issue in competitive swimwear as it is in fashion swimwear, its fit and functionality are the most important.

Swimwear Shopping - What to Look For
Competitive swimsuits can run upwards of several hundred dollars, based upon the brand name and model of the swimwear. While this figure may be out of the price range of some swimmers, it is still important for every serious swimmer to purchase a quality piece of swimwear. Competitive swimwear is designed for different reasons and purposes than fashion swimwear, and these differences should be evident in the design and fabric of the swimsuit. Here are some general tips for selecting the best quality swimsuit product for your money.

1) Swimwear Brand Names
Swimwear brand names may be more important than you think. The fact that brands such as Speedo and Jantzen have stayed on the market for several decades testifies to the quality of the swimwear they produce. However, newer brands like Tyr Swimwear have made a serious entry into the market. Before purchasing a swimsuit, be sure to do a little research on the brand you are leaning toward. Read some information about the company and see what past customers have had to say about the swimwear. A little consumer research can go a long way toward ensuring a quality, long-lasting swimsuit.

2) Swimwear Function
Keep in mind the reason you are buying the swimsuit when browsing through stores. If you are selecting swimwear for casual lap swimming, speed facilitation may be less of a factor for you than swimsuit longevity. You may be able to cut some costs by looking at brand-name swimwear designed without the latest innovations. If speed facilitation is your major requirement, be sure to compare brands and research product claims before purchasing. The advertising claims of the swimwear manufacturer may be more fancy words and big names than actual swimwear innovations.

3) Swimwear Sources
Do not assume that you need to buy brand-name swimsuits from a high-end sports store or directly from the manufacturer. Many second-run fashion stores carry brand-name swimwear that did not sell initially due to unpopular cut or color. If swimwear functionality and longevity are more important to you than appearance, these stores may provide better, more cost-effective swimsuit options for you.

4) Swimwear Materials
Pay attention to swimwear fabric. Purchasing an expensive, brand-name swimsuit and quickly losing it to chlorine degradation and fraying would be very unfortunate! Well-made competitive swimwear should contain high quality materials and competitive workout swimwear should be treated for chlorine resistance. While no treatment can result in complete chlorine resistance, some sort of chlorine treatment can greatly lengthen the swimwear's life. If you are unsure of the chlorine resistance of a particular swimsuit, feel free to ask the salesperson or call the manufacturer regarding this important concern.

Written by Elsie Chan
Swim Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

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