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Understanding Racing Swimwear and Compression Suits

With the world of swim racing growing bigger and bigger each year, so are the endless options of racewear. With different types, fits and styles, we've broken down the essentials of what you need to know when purchasing your next racewear essentials.

Wearing a fabric that features compression means it will compress your muscles, forcing them closer to your blood supply giving increased blood flow, resulting in more energy. Not only do compression fabrics help during a race but before a race too. They get your blood pumping before you’ve even dived in so that as soon as you hit the water they are warmed up and ready to go.

During and after a race you may get a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles, which causes a burning sensation and can attribute to the 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, flushing out the lactic acid before it builds up, helping with your recovery.

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 to avoid tears. Just watch our handy tips video below for optimum race suit performance!

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 and appear in the list of approved Swimwear on the FINA website;

Arena’s range of competition swimwear features water repellence, this keeps the suits lightweight in the water. 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. Shop Arena here.

The Fastskin range of racing swimwear from Speedo is well known amongst swimmers and has evolved over the years. Speedo seeks 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. They help to create a complete racing system to help you be the fastest you can be in the water. Shop Speedo here.


The Tyr Thresher is a great option for a mid-range race suit. It has advanced compression and core stabilization to create an optimum body position in the water for a faster and more efficient swim. The embedded hydrophobic fibre and flatlock seams make it water repellent for less drag in the water and greater comfort and flexibility. Shop TYR here.