College Swimmers’ Opinions on Tech Suits

Photo Courtesy: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

By Mark McCluskey, Swimming World College Intern.

With the holiday and championship season coming up, it seems like it’s the time when people are in the market for brand new tech suits. For those who have never gotten a tech suit or are thinking about trying out a different brand, it can be very overwhelming deciding what suit is best for you. With so many brands and styles to choose from, it’s scary to make the decision on which suit you are not only going to wear at the biggest meets of the season but also spend a good amount of your paycheck on.

To figure out the pros and cons of each suit, some of the best people to ask are college swimmers. They have been in the game long enough and tried on enough suits to know which is best for them and possibly could be the best for you. When talking to a variety of swimmers, you can find out what they look for in a tech suit. By hearing what collegiate swimmers like in their suits, you can keep the following aspects in mind when looking through reviews online.

Longevity

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Photo Courtesy: Coucla Refaat

Multiple collegiate swimmers said that what they look for in a tech suit is having something that will last a long time. Drew MacDonald, a swimmer for Bowdoin College, says: “Some suits stay compressive for at least 20 if not more races, while some last less than 10. I’d rather have the one that lasts the longest so it’s more practical”. His teammate, Julian Abaldo, agreed, saying he likes a suit that lasts long because “you want to feel like the suit is tight for as long as possible. Once it feels loose, it doesn’t make me as confident when I put it on.”

Adjustability for Height

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Photo Courtesy: Speedo

One of the main struggles that female swimmers have is finding a suit that actually fits them. For a male, the suit only has to fit around their legs, but for a woman, they have to make sure the suit fits over their legs, waist, and shoulders. According to two collegiate swimmers, some brands are better for tall swimmers than others.

Myka Thomas, a swimmer at Howard University, said: “Since I’m 5’11 with super long legs, a lot of things are often too short. For tech suits in particular, some brands actually have the option for a ‘long’ size. The long sizes allow me to get a small size with extra length as opposed to sizing up to accommodate for my leg length”. Mary Erb, a Northwestern swimmer, agreed, saying: “When wearing a suit that fits taller women, the straps are more comfortable. Some brands that aren’t long enough will pull against my shoulders really uncomfortably.”

Compression

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

One thing that every swimmer looks for in their suit is compression; however, every athlete has a different preference in this area. Noah Nicholas, an IM specialist at Howard University, speaks to his preference: “I like a suit that is skin-tight, but it has to allow lateral movement for my breaststroke kick.”

Some people find certain suits to be very restrictive to breaststroke kicks but are fine when flutter kicking. Justin Yang, another Bowdoin swimmer, doesn’t like his suit to be skin-tight, saying: “I like the compression to not cut off my blood circulation, allowing oxygen to actually get to my legs, unlike a lot of suits.”

One aspect that women look out for are reviews saying that the front of their suit gets “the bubble” when they dive in. Obviously, you don’t want your suit filling up with water in the middle of your race – it creates unnecessary drag and can slow you down.

These are just a few things to look for when reading reviews on suits. Go into shopping with an idea of what you are looking for in a tech suit. If you are a breaststroker, make sure there is some flexibility. If you are much taller, check the reviews and sizing charts to make sure that the suits are made for your height. If all you are looking for in a suit is something that will last you a long time, that is the main thing that people will report on when reviewing a suit online. Going into shopping with a mindset of what you want will give you a much better guarantee of finding the match that you are looking for.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Author: Mark McCluskey

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Mark McCluskey is a senior captain on the Howard University swimming and diving team where he specializes in sprint freestyle. He has been swimming competitively since he was four years old, growing up swimming for the Penobscot Bay Sailfish in Rockport, Maine.

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