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To race in a FINA event your swimwear has to be FINA approved. This means that it will have been sent to FINA by the manufacturer to be tested and checked that it meets FINA’s criteria for competing. If a swimsuit is FINA Approved it will have a FINA Approved label printed on the suit (normally on the rear). It will also appear in the list of FINA Approved Swimwear on the FINA website; www.fina.org.
Wearing a fabric that features compression will compress your muscles, forcing them closer to your blood supply which gives increased blood flow, resulting in more energy. Compression fabrics also help before a race, as they get your blood pumping before you have even dived off the blocks, so that as soon as you hit the water they are warmed up and ready to sprint. During and after a race you may get a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles, which causes a burning sensation and has been attributed to stiffening of your muscles after exercise. Compression swimwear helps to prevent lactic acid build-up by speeding up the removal of waste in your body, therefore flushing out lactic acid before it builds up. It will also help with your recovery.
Sizing and Fit
When choosing racing swimwear, don’t guess your size but measure yourself and use the specific size chart relating to the swimwear you are looking at. Racing swimwear is designed to give a compressive fit and will feel tight if it fits you correctly. The fabric is much more delicate than regular swimwear fabrics and you should take care when trying the suit on. It can take up to 20 minutes to put a racing swimsuit on. If possible you should wear thin cotton gloves and do not use your fingernails to pull on the fabric, as this can tear it. For advice on fitting a racesuit, watch the fitting videos below for Arena Carbon and Speedo LZR X:
Arena’s range of competition swimwear features water repellency (to keep the suits lightweight in the water) and compression. Their range has 3 main tiers of swimwear for racing:
This is Arena’s entry level competition suit and is made from a knitted fabric rather than woven. This gives it more stretch than woven racing swimwear and also gives good compression, but because it is knitted it will not be as compressive as a woven suit. The Powerskin ST is also designed in Xtra Life Lycra giving 10 x the chlorine resistance of Lycra.
Arena’s range of Carbon swimwear uses a carbon fibre skeleton with fabric on top to give proactive compression rather than continual compression, which can become uncomfortable and tiring for the swimmer. When your muscles flex, the Arena Carbon suit will give compression where it is needed at critical stretch points, whilst maintaining flexibility and freedom of movement in other parts of the suit. This technology reduces water drag, improves efficiency and maximises your power through the water.
The Carbon Air is the lightest carbon suit and gives a comfortable fit. It is designed with horizontal carbon fibre bands rather than a full carbon cage (used in the Carbon Flex), which gives a lighter and more comfortable application of carbon technology compared with the Carbon Flex. It is relatively easy to put on with smart stretch shoulder straps. It gives a good balance of comfort and performance and is ideal for longer distance racing rather than sprints such as freestyle.
The Carbon Flex suit is designed with a full carbon cage and is Arena’s top tier racing swimsuit. It gives fantastic compression as your muscles flex, whilst retaining elasticity and freedom of movement. Bonded seams and elastic tapes are strategically placed to store potential energy which is then released during dives, kicks and turns and they are well placed for comfort. This suit keeps your core stable and your shape streamlined in the water, reducing water drag and improving speed.
The Fastskin range of racing swimwear from Speedo is well known amongst swimmers and has evolved over the years as Speedo seek to continually push the boundaries of innovation and develop world leading products, that enable elite swimmers to realise their full potential. Their Fastskin range includes swimming caps and goggles that give a streamlined fit and work together with the Fastskin swimwear, to create a complete racing system to help you be the fastest you can be in the water. This racing system is known as Fastskin3.
Speedo’s latest racing suit offers increased compression, maximum comfort, improved sensitivity and precise sizing. The key benefits of the LZR Racer X are:
Higher Compression with Freedom of Movement: a unique smart stretch fabric called LZR CompreX has one way stretch technology that allows you to bend and move your legs during the stroke, whilst maintaining support and compression – keeping you streamlined in the water.
Ab Activators: lazer cutting of the layered core liner uncovers single layer panels that improve your sensitivity to the water, to encourage you to use your lower abdominal muscles.
Support Seam Construction: These metallic coloured seams promote the correct body position in the water and support the linking of your muscles to improve your stroke and kick.
Lazer Cut Straps: give a great balance between a secure fit and comfort.
This successful Speedo racing suit offers:
All Over Compression: to create a streamlined shape in the water and minimise water drag.
4-Way Stretch: for comfort and flexibility.
Fantastic Water Repellency: to keep the suit incredibly lightweight in the water.
Fully Bonded Seams: to create a smooth surface, reducing skin friction drag.
Speedo have introduced a chlorine resistant Fastskin for girls and boys which gives a great option for training as well as competing, in a racing silhouette. This junior range is Fina Approved for competing but will last much longer than traditional race suits because of its durable fabric. These suits do not offer the technology of an adult Fastskin, but are a great option for young swimmers who love the look and feel of a racing swimsuit, without the price tag.
The Speedo Fastskin 3 cap has been created based on 3D head scan data. It features the same IQ Fit as the suit which helps to reduce body drag, whilst being comfy and having improved fit at the same time.
Speedo’s hair management system is a bonded fabric cap which goes under the Fastskin 3 cap. This holds hair in and around the gap at the curve of the neck, which improves the swimmer’s profile and reduces drag even further, to give maximum hydrodynamic performance.
The Speedo Fastskin 3 goggles have the same IQ fit features as the suit and the cap. Speedo used 3D head scanning data to make goggles which offer improved fit, leak resistance and comfort. The new design has produced a goggle which reduces drag more than any other goggle available on the market.
The goggles feature a new technology known as dive stream which is designed to protect the eye during dives and turns. These goggles offer a 63.4% force reduction compared to a Speedo Aquasocket goggle.
The goggles feature a hydroscopic lens which is a unique lens shape to Speedo, giving a 180 degree field of vision. They also feature a selection of nose bridges so you can get the best fit for you.
The reaction of swimmers to the TYR Avictor is that it is quick and easy to put on, offers compression, buoyancy and comfort for racing, plus it looks great in a vibrant, funky print.
The main features are:
Hydrosphere Technology: ensures that water surrounds the fabric rather than saturating it, resulting in reduced water drag and improved body position to boost your speed and efficiency.
Water Repellency: Speed Dry Fabrication makes the suit compressive, lightweight and fast.
Flexibility and comfort: fully bonded seams stretch with your body to give more flexibility on starts and turns.
Tyr’s Fusion 2 range of racing swimwear comes in at a great price point for competitive swimmers and gives targeted compression and water repellency.
Targeted Compression: helps to give you a streamlined shape for a more efficient and faster swim.
Hydrophobic: The water repellent fabric is very smooth to help you glide through the water and minimises water drag for a faster swim.
Maru’s Pro T range of racing swimwear is lower priced than Speedo or Arena but gives a more accessible price point for competition swimwear. It offers:
Muscle Support: reduces lactic acid build up.
Compression: creates a streamlined shape for a more efficient swim.
Water Repellency: remains lightweight and reduces water drag.
The XT3 range from Maru is designed for junior swimmers and its accessible price point and bright colours make it a great choice for club swimmers. It offers:
Water Repellency: remains lightweight and reduces water drag.
2 Way Stretch: gives a racing silhouette and freedom of movement.
Micro Circulation: oxygen to the muscles is improved.