I do like to support local retailers when possible, but when it comes to swimwear, options around where I live are rather limited. For men’s swimwear, to find competition suits versus board shorts there are only ever a handful of suits in a handful of general sports stores. Women have a few more options, but again, most swim stores are focused on recreational wear. If you have a store in your area that contains a range of sizes, brands, materials, and designs, consider yourself fortunate. Therefore, more often than not I turn to Amazon, Swim Outlet, or Tri boutique for purchases.

In the past, shopping online has been a rather random choice mostly focused on price and design. As a guy, I prefer long jammers for enhanced modesty, and definitely black as anything lighter will show, um, everything. This has img_20161228_111237-1meant a variety of materials and brands, and a recent bad experience has me considering this in more depth.

The Speedo Endurance (pictured) and Tyr Durafast were my original pairs and these things were bullet-proof. Both lasted for 10’s of thousands of meters and in fact the material was still in good shape but the drawstrings or fabric where the drawstrings enter was what finally started to give out. However, both were so durable due to their polyester fabrics, which feel thick and not particularly slippery. You know you’re in polyester when you wring the suit out after a swim and could fill a hot tub.

I got into something different when my wife bought me a pair of Tyr Alliance for my birthday. A mix of nylon and lycra, these felt incredible. Thin, sleek, and slippery, I felt faster than usual just putting them on. There are too many factors to compare if they made me any faster, but feeling faster is what counts the most, right? Unfortunately, two months of swimming 5x per week and the fibres started to break. I could feel them getting loose in the pool and they started to develop a certain degree of transparency right in the back middle. To say the least, I had to retire these quickly.

So, my most recent purchase is the Speedo Pro LT in Rio 2016 colours. These are still 85% polyester promising good durability, and 15% spandex, so they still feel slippery. Speedo carries a large selection of both men’s and women’s suits in this fabric, so lots of options here if they to the trick. I’ll let you know how they hold up over time.

Ultimately, the message is that fabrics matter for swimsuits, and it’s worth getting to know a bit about them. Speed and durability are a bit of a trade-off, so know what you’re looking for in your suit. A deal isn’t a deal if you have to replace your suit 3x as often.

See you in the pool.