Is Swimwear Fabric Important?
Selecting the best swimsuit material for training or competition swimsuit suit can be tricky. Even after you’ve refined your search to a high quality swimsuit brand, such as Kiefer, Speedo, Arena, or Dolfin, many more considerations still need to be made. Will you choose a solid color or a print? Despite the variety in the fitness swimwear and competitive swimwear market, one basic decision needs to be made before you proceed – choosing the fabric of your swimsuit. Selecting the proper swimsuit material is very important and should reflect your goals for your swimwear: are you looking for the best fit, durability, stretch – or all of the above? Your choice of fabric for your swimsuit is vital to meeting your expectations.
Types of Swimwear Fabric:
Swimmers, let’s start with the basics and discuss suit construction and intended uses.
Lycra swimwear is the long reigning swimwear industry standard, featuring a soft and comfortable fabric with excellent stretch. Lycra swimwear is available in the greatest variety of colors and print styles. Lycra fabric (also known as Spandex or Elastane) is a term commonly used to describe material made from a blend of Spandex fibers and other fibers. Spandex (an anagram of the word “expands”) is an elastic polyurethane fiber, invented in 1959 by DuPont chemists. Generally speaking, Lycra suits do not have the longest lifespan. Frequent swimmers generally see up to six months of suit life, depending on Lycra quality. A newer variation of Lycra. known to the swimsuit industry as Xtra Life Lycra, provides additional durability and suit life and is reported to be up to 10 times more durable than less sophisticated or less engineered Spandex fabric.
Polyester Swimwear Material
Polyester swimsuit material provides an excellent alternative to Lycra, lasting through years of steady use if cared for properly. And even improperly I might add – I still wear one of my poly suits from college and it gets thrown wet into bags and forgotten all the time! Solid polyester suits are not as comfortable as Lycra swimwear; poly material is less soft and lacks lacks Lycra’s expansive stretch. However, you will absolutely get your money’s worth from Polyester swimwear since it is (in many respects) totally bombproof! Polyester appears under many different names in the competitive and fitness swimwear market: Speedo Endurance, TYR Durafast, and Dolfin Chloroban are all 100% polyester fabric. Chloroban has the additional benefits of being long lasting, comfortable, stretchy, and even has a 50+ Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating.
Nylon fibers make up the majority of most non-polyester swimwear, whether blended with Lycra, or used on its own in 100% Nylon swimwear. Even though Nylon is lightweight, it remains one of the strongest manufactured fibers and offers a smooth fit. Nylon absorbs little water and dries very quickly. Some drawbacks to Nylon are its reduced ability to hold color and its lack of elasticity. Looking for a great drag suit to add to your workout or swim meet warmup? Consider Nylon.
Swimsuit Fabric & Pricing
Polyester swimwear is generally more expensive than the mid-priced Lycra swimsuits and lower-priced Nylon swimwear.
Other Blended Fabric Swimwear
Some blended fabrics, such as Poly PBT and XLA, are newer to the swimwear market and endeavor to offer the best of both worlds – combining features that maximize both comfort and durability.
Poly PBT Swimwear
PBT Polyester is another more recent addition to the swimsuit fabric world, and is found in both competitive swimwear and fitness swimwear. PBT, or polybutylene terephthalate, has excellent stretch and elasticity; additionally, PBT is also quick-drying and has low-water absorbency.
Current examples of Poly PBT swimwear are Kiefer’s Aqualast Polyester/PBT blend. It offers stretch, comfort, and last-ability. TYR promotes Durafast boasting a life 20 times longer than traditional swimwear and more recently Durafast Elite. Durafast Elite is chlorine proof, color fast, durable, flexible, comfortable and offers 300+ hours of use. Both suits are blends of Polyester and Polyester PBT. Speedo’s PBT swimwear fabric is known as Endurance Plus and Endurance Lite, and touts chlorine-resistance, color retention, stretchability, comfortable fabric blend of PBT and Polyester.
Kiefer swimwear is also available in XLA fabric, a blend of nylon and XLA fibers that offers enhanced chlorine-resistance, excellent 2 way stretch, and the durability to be machine washed and dried.
Swimmers, choose your swimsuit material carefully!
Ultimately, it’s your choice.
There are plenty of excellent suit options for swimmers, so think about about your goals. Will your suit be logging long daily pool yardage – or just weekly recreational use? For hours upon hours of use, you want a suit that is comfortable and doesn’t require monthly – blends or polyester suits are likely your best bet. For those looking for a suit to use once a week, you’re likely to be quite content in a Lycra suit.
All set? Now make your choice and just add water…