Swim Shorts vs. Speedos

Swimwear falls into one of two categories — competitive swimwear or leisure swimwear. Leisure swimwear is the pair of trunks you buy to wear on vacation, boat trips, or casual swimming and lounging at the pool, lake, or beach. Leisure swimwear does not adhere to a strict set of standards and is designed to be stylish, comfortable, and simple to wear. Competitive swimwear is anything intended for professional or competitive use. Competitive pieces are constructed out of different materials that make them more durable. They are designed to minimize disruption to the swimmer and help them move quickly and fluidly.

All types of swimwear fall into one of these two categories, including Speedo briefs, boardshorts, jammers, and square leg shorts. Keep reading to learn some tips for choosing between Speedo briefs or trunks, including some essential differences and similarities.

What Are Swim Shorts?

“Swim shorts” is a broad term swimmers use to describe jammers, boardshorts, and square leg shorts. Whether competitive or leisure, the three types of swim shorts are:

• Jammers: Jammers are form-fitting shorts that reach just above the knee. They offer more coverage than briefs and square leg shorts and have some built-in compression. 

• Boardshorts: Boardshorts are ideal for casual surfing and swimming. They are long and do not have compression, which makes them a comfortable option for long wear. They look like regular shorts, so many people wear boardshorts to non-swimming activities.

• Square legs: Square leg swim shorts are shorter than boardshorts and jammers but longer than briefs. They end around the upper thigh, and fit snug and compressed against the skin.

What Are Speedos?

What are Speedos

Speedo is actually a brand of swimwear, not a specific garment. The brand has been around since the 1920s and is a favorite among Olympic athletes. Speedo makes many types of men’s and women’s swimwear, including briefs, rash guards, boardshorts, swim trunks, jammers, bikinis, and one-piece suits. When most people hear the name, they are picturing the famous Speedo briefs. Speedo briefs fit along a swimmer’s hips and do not have leg coverings like shorts do. Most have some level of compression for comfort and performance. You can find swim briefs in different styles and levels of coverage.

Similarities and Differences Between Speedo Briefs and Swim Shorts

Competitive swimwear is created to minimize naturally occurring drag that holds swimmers back in the water. Drag is the pressure in the water that pushes back against you as you swim forward. Swimmers learn different techniques and strokes to minimize the effects of drag. The closer a swimsuit fits your body, the more you can glide through drag and swim faster. This is the same reason competitive swimmers wear swim caps and remove body hair. Suits, shorts, and briefs also have compression qualities, which shapes the swimmer’s body to be hydrodynamic, resulting in smoother strokes through the water.

A few similarities between Speedo style swim briefs and shorts include:

• Options: Whether you prefer swimming in Speedos or shorts, you get to choose the specific style, level of coverage, color, design, and fabric makeup of your swimwear.

• Quality: Quality manufacturers like Kiefer, Speedo, Dolfin, and TYR are creating both swim briefs and swim shorts. Whichever style you prefer, you can find garments with expert construction and quality materials to meet your casual and competitive swim goals.

Different styles of swimwear serve different purposes. Some key differences between shorts and swim briefs are:

• Speed: One of the most significant differences of Speedo briefs vs. jammers, boardshorts, and square leg shorts is speed. Speedo briefs have less fabric than knee-length swim shorts, which may help you swim faster.

• Coverage: Swim shorts provide more coverage than tight Speedos. This means you can easily wear many types of swim shorts or Speedo trunks in public, like to the grocery store or a beachside restaurant, without having to change your clothes. This additional coverage is a good idea for swimmers who burn quickly in the sun. On the other hand, the lack of coverage with swim briefs means fewer tan lines.

• Resistance: Some swimmers opt for swimming shorts or drag suits during training because they can create natural resistance in the water. This resistance lets swimmers build muscle and strength.

Tips for Choosing the Best Men’s Swimwear

Tips for Choosing the Best Men's Swimwear

Before purchasing swimwear, analyze your swimming needs. Are you a competitive swimmer, or do you spend more time lounging at the beach? How much flexibility do you require? To choose the best swimwear for you, consider the following factors:

• Fabric: Swimwear is made of movable, moisture-resistant material that helps swimmers move faster without getting waterlogged. When choosing the fabric of your swimwear, consider where you regularly swim, like a chlorine pool or saltwater ocean. Swimwear fabrics include polyester, polyester PBT, and nylon. Polyester is soft, flexible, breathable, and quick-drying. For those who frequent the pool, it also resists chlorine. Polyester PBT — short for polyester terephthalate — is lightweight, fast-drying, and snag-resistant. Nylon has a smooth, soft fit with good elasticity and abrasion resistance, but is not chlorine resistant.

• Comfort: Although performance can be an essential factor when choosing swimwear, it’s not the only one. Your trunks, briefs, or jammers need to be flexible and comfortable. The more comfortable you feel, the more you can focus on your form and techniques in the water.

• Fit: Poor-fitting swimwear is uncomfortable and can hinder your performance. Baggy swimwear can also come loose in currents or waves. Before choosing your garment, make sure it is the correct length and the waistband sits comfortably against your skin. Some swimwear, like boardshorts, has drawstrings for a more standard fit. If you purchase a garment with built-in compression, make sure it isn’t too tight.

No matter which type of swimwear you choose, it’s important to maintain and replace your garment as needed. Today’s swimwear is designed to be long-lasting and durable enough to withstand all types of water, but if you notice any stretching or wear, you want to replace them before competing.

Get Men’s Swimwear at Kiefer Aquatics

Kiefer Aquatics is the place to shop for competitive men’s swimwear, including technical suits, lifeguard apparel, jammers, briefs, and boardshorts from popular brands like Kiefer, TYR, Speedo, Dolfin, and others. We have been industry pioneers since 1947 when Olympic Gold Medalist Adolph Kiefer founded a company with a passion for offering value and service for every type of swimmer.

Browse our website to learn more about the Kiefer advantage and find the quality swimwear you need today.

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