Types of Swimwear


One-piece women’s suits: These have come a long way in style and function. Because most active-style one-pieces tend to stay in place better than two-piece suits, they’re a great choice for sports such as diving, bodysurfing or stand up paddle boarding where you’ll spend time falling or diving into the water or waves.

If you plan to do lap or competitive swimming, you may opt to choose snug-fitting, cross-back streamlined suits designed for minimal fuss and drag in the water. (For triathlon-specific swimwear advice, see the REI Expert Advice article, Triathlon Gear: How to Choose.)

Types of Swimsuits | Simply Swim UK

Two-piece women’s suits: With swim top and bottoms sold separately, it’s easy to customize two-piece suits to suit your watersport and body type. Many active brands design performance two-piece suits to stay in place during many watersports. Two-piece suits are also more convenient than one-piece suits for bathroom breaks.

Tops on two-piece suits come in a wide range of styles in two main categories:

Bikini: These include the classic triangle top, bra or bralette-style top.
Tankini: These tank tops usually cover the full midriff (crop tops may fall somewhere between the two styles.)
Swim bottoms range in coverage, from traditional bikini bottoms with a higher leg cut to more full coverage. Other options for coverage include swim skirts and boy short styles.

A graphic showing different types of swimwear

Men’s swim trunks: Casual swim shorts, or trunks, range from short to above the knee. They typically have drawstrings, snaps or elastic waistbands; some come with a mesh inner brief or lining for extra support. You can opt for a tailored or baggy look.

Men’s swim briefs: These are form-fitting, brief-shaped swimsuits usually worn for performance sports such as lap swimming and water polo where speed and free range of motion are essential.

Swim leggings: These long swim bottoms, also called swim tights, give you maximum sun protection from your waist down to your shin or ankles. They’re great choices for paddle boarding, surfing and snorkeling or other sports where you’ll spend long hours in the sun and water and don’t want to continually reapply sunscreen. Depending on the fabric, they can keep you warmer in chilly waters.

Board shorts: These shorts vary in length. Some women’s board shorts run fairly short (2-inch inseam), while some men’s board shorts fall well below the knee to help protect thighs from rubbing against surfboards or paddle boards.

Jammers: These snug-fitting shorts hug thighs and bottom (they’re similar to a bike short without the padding). They’re great for lap or competitive swimming because there’s minimal drag.

Rashguards: These popular shirts provide protection from sun and chafing. Rashguards shield you from harmful UV rays during long hours of paddling, surfing, snorkeling or swimming. They’re lightweight, stretchy and can be loose- or form-fitting. The shirts come in many styles for versatility—cap-sleeve, short-sleeve, ¾-length, long-sleeve, pullover or zip-top.


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