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Race Prep & Gear

What is a racing suit and do I need one?

Racing suits, or tech suits, are suits that high performance swimmers wear for their big competitions. The suits are made from a special fabric that has hydrophobic properties designed to repel water to allow the suit and swimmer to flow through the water with reduced drag. The suit also offers compression that will keep your muscles firing quickly and working more efficiently to help reduce fatigue. There are varying levels of compression offered in the range of racing suits available, and there are many factors that will help determine which racing suit is best for you; factors like your body type, what races you specialize in, your experience in the sport. Some suits offer high compression and are best for sprinters. Other suits have less compression, offer more flexibility, and feel lighter on your body; these suits are designed for long distance, breaststroke, and I.M. swimmers.  
Typically we recommend that tech suits should only be worn by swimmers ages 14 & up; once their skills, technique, and race experience have matured.
We have a wide variety of entry-level to mid-level racing suits for those who are still developing in these areas.

Can you recommend the best racing suit?

This is really dependent on your level of swimming and your personal preferences. However, based on our 40 plus years of experiences as a team of swimmers, former swimmers, coaches, lifeguards and provincial, national and world champions, here are our suggested guidelines.

If you are a mid level swimmer with some experience racing, are maybe attending provincials, consider a Speedo LZR Pro, Arena ST, R-Evo One, and Speedo Power Plus.

If you are attending senior or age group nationals or swimming at an international level (this is the highest level for racing suits), consider the Arena Carbon Series, or the Speedo Pure Collection.

What is my racing suit size?

Sizing is extremely important with racing suits! Racing suits are supposed to hug everypart of your body! The compression comes from the structure of the suit, rather than how tightly it fits. Ideally you want to go one to three sizes down from what you train in. However, this may vary depending on the brand of your training suit and the brand of your racing suit. You should also take into consideration your body shape  as some brands fit different body types better than others. We find that Arena racing suits generally fit swimmers with more narrow hips, while Speedo racing suits work better for swimmers with bigger hips.

We recommend, if possible, that you establish your racing suit size in any of the following ways:

  • Visit one of our retail store locations and try racing suits on. Different brands and styles have different fits and our Swim Experts can assist you in getting the best fit possible.
  • Our handy sizing chart will offer you guidance. Select the size you think will be best for you. Remember, you may return or exchange items that do not fit as long as they have not been worn and tags are still intact. Find out more in our return policy.

*Note: Wearing a racing suit that is not the right size may actually hinder performance. A suit that is too big will create drag and not offer correct compression for optimal performance. While a racing suit that is too tight will be too constrictive and not allow you to use your body’s natural range of motion.

How to put on a racing suit/what size should I get?

Race suits need to be worn tight - like a second skin. If you wear the right size, it will be difficult to get into, and with these suits being constructed with material that is delicate, extra caution must be taken when putting on a racing suit. Use the pads of your fingers when putting on your racing suit, and not your nails. We also suggest using a sock or something similar to put over your hand for protection. For girls, it is very common to have someone help you put on the racing suit! 

  • Racing suits are meant to be advantageous - with designs to maximize body-shaping, compression and repelling water. That means suits fit extremely snug. 
  • That being said every manufacturer varies - always try on a suit before buying
  • Tech suits that restrict movement, restrict breathing or is too loose is a tech suit that isn't working for you.
  • It will take a long time (~10+ minutes) to get your suit on. So make sure you leave yourself enough time; if you rush, you are more likely to damage your suit.
  • Work the suit up slowly from the bottom, using the pads of your fingers (NOT fingertips) especially at the waist line; do not pull the suit at any seam. Don’t forget to cut your nails or even put a plastic bag over your hands to help prevent tearing
  • Making sure that the sections of the suit are correctly positioned over your body, this will help free up additional ‘slack’ for you to be able to work the suit up your body.

How to take care of a racing suit/how many races can I expect?

High performance suits are not designed for durability and long periods of use like practice suits, so it’s important to exercise extra care.

  • Leaving your un-rinsed suit at the bottom of your swim bag will damage it. To keep your suit in top racing condition, take the suit off after your race and rinse it in cold water between races.
  • After the completion of the meet use a gentle detergent such as AQUAMATE to properly remove the chlorine from the suit.
  • Dry your suit flat or hang upside down from legs – this will prevent water gathering at the crotch and damaging the bonding in this area.
  • Never use any type of washer or dryer and avoid hang-wringing and suit spinning/drying machines as well.
  • There is no pre-determined amount of races you can expect, no guaranteed amount of time. If you follow the above steps, getting the chlorine out as soon as possible you can expect to have the suit last longer.

What are racing goggles?

Many competitive swimmers have a pair of goggles that are exclusively for racing. Unlike recreational goggles or training goggles, racing goggles are designed to be hydrodynamic. The goggle should fit snug in your eyes, without protruding too much or creating drag. The silicone straps will keep the goggle from shifting on your head.