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Swimsuit Back Styles Explained

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Choosing A Swimsuit Back Style

Many swimmers look to Kiefer for recommendations and advice on selecting a swimsuit back style. This isn’t surprising, considering all the options on the market- Speedo has 14 different performance backs alone! But don’t worry, we’ve got your back ;) – read on to crack the code of the suit backs.

Choosing A Suit Back Style Is Easy

In reality, suit backs are equal parts fashion and function, differentiated mostly by style (the look of the suit back) & support (the amount of bodily support provided by the strapping).

The Big Decision – Swimsuit Straps

I recommend starting your selection process by choosing a swimsuit strap style. This is a straightforward decision, because suit straps are generally organized into two main categories: thin straps and wide straps.

Strap Styles- Thin Suit Straps vs Wide Suit Straps

Thin Suit Straps

Thin strap backs have grown in popularity over the years. Their minimalist design features narrower straps that are carefully positioned to offer support where it is needed, while eliminating the build of wide straps.

Key Features Of Thin Strap Suits:

  • Less Coverage: Thin straps are more revealing and show more skin, so swimmers less concerned about back & shoulder exposure will prefer them.
  • Less Supportive: Although thin straps are designed for use at swim meets and swim practice, curvy swimmers looking for extra support should consider wider straps.
    • Bonus: Flyback suit backs combine thin straps with an added panel of fabric for extra support. Check out Kiefer and Speedo’s Flyback, TYR’s Diamondfit, and Dolfin’s V-2 Back.
  • Comfort: Thin straps are more comfortable and less constricting than wide strap suits.
  • Water Feel: Some swimmers claim that thin straps and more open suit backs provide a better feel for the water, causing them to feel faster during training and racing, and more aware of swim stroke body rotation.
  • Less Tan Lines: Simply put, thin straps minimize tan lines, allowing competitive swimmers to blend in with the crowd at pool parties.

Our Best-Selling Thin Strap Suit Backs:

  • Kiefer: Flyback
  • Speedo: Flyback, Extreme Back, Cross Back, Energy Back
  • TYR: Diamondfit
  • Arena: Light Tech, Light-Drop Back
  • Dolfin: V-2 Back, DBX Back

Wide Strap Suits

Wide strap backs are a staple design for racing swimsuits and tech suits. Wide, compressive straps provide added support and lock suits in place to resist shifting during swim starts and flip turns.

Key Features Of Wide Strap Suits:

  • More Coverage: Wider straps provide more coverage for swimmers less concerned about tan lines and a “barely there” look.
  • More Supportive:
    • Wide straps provide additional support and are often preferred by curvy swimmers.
    • Bonus Tip: Wide strap suits are also recommended for younger swimmers whose slighter builds tend to rattle around in less compressive swimwear.
    • Extra Bonus  Tip: The Speedo Super Pro Back is Speedo’s most popular wide strap back and is also recommended for younger age-group swimmers.
  • Comfort:
    • Wide straps are less comfortable for longer swimming sessions.
    • Swimmers that downsize for a tighter fit may develop swimsuit rub marks known as “suit hickeys” where the shoulder meets the neck.
    • Bonus Tip: Swimmers often reserve wide straps for competition and wear thin suits for practice or lap swimming.
    • Extra Bonus Tip: Swimmers insisting on wearing a tight fitting suit with wide straps may want to apply Sportslick, a waterproof, water-based lubricating gel to minimize or prevent suit hickeys.

Our Best-Selling Wide Strap Suit Backs:

  • Speedo: Record Breaker, Super Pro Back, Drop Back
  • Kiefer: Powerback, Fastback
  • Arena: Swim Pro
  • TYR: Maxfit
  • Dolfin: HP Back

Still need encouragement?

Just getting started? Try a thin strap suit. They’re a great choice for swim practice & lap swimming – and when coverage isn’t a concern.

Ready to take your racing to the next level? Try a wide strap back and enjoy its powerful fit.

Looking for more advice? Read our competitive swimwear sizing guide and don’t miss our swimwear material advice.

What style of back do you prefer?

Please share & comment below.

See you at the pool,


About Robin Kiefer

Robin Spencer Kiefer is a lifetime fitness swimmer and endurance athlete. After becoming an Ironman in 2008, Robin continues to push the limits of marketing & parenting. He is the Vice President of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce at Kiefer.

Recent Comments (2)

Are there no available women in your organization qualified to present an educated opinion on the issue of straps? As a female potential shopper, I would have FAR more respect for the opinion of a woman who actually would be wearing/or has worn the suits described in Robin’s blog. Unless of course he does have some personal experience not shared in the blog…..

This is an excellent opportunity for me to credit Kiefer’s Team Sales staff (Amanda, Edita, Maureen), Kiefer’s Customer Service Manager (Kristie), my wife Stacey Kiefer, and my daughter Ginger Kiefer. This blog post wouldn’t exist without their contributions! And yes, my blog bio and amount of time spent wearing women’s swimwear are both very brief (no pun intended).

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