Life of a Racing Suit
We are often asked how long does a race suit last. There is no hard and fast rule as it will depend on so many factors, primarily how long it has been worn either in the pool or sitting around poolside at Galas. Different pools have different strengths of chlorine so this will also effect the life of the suit. Our best advice is that you should consider changing your suit each season at the very least. Race suits are warrantied for manufacturing defects but this typically will not include rips and tears, signs of extended use or wear and tear. If a suit is returned under warranty, we will return to the manufacturer for their inspection and if agreed that a manufacturing defect exists, the replacement will be the same size as the original suit.
CAUTION: Race suits are expensive and the cost of the suit does not relate to how long it will last, i.e. an expensive suit does not last longer than a cheaper suit and you should be prepared for that.
Race Suit Guidance
There is no doubt that wearing a specifically designed race suit gives swimmers an advantage during competition. However, it is important to remember that it is the swimmer who makes the suit fast, not the other way around! Each Brand and even within a brand models can have completely different sizing requirements. It is therefore vitally important that you seek expert advice and wherever possible a professional face to face fitting rather than buying ‘blind’ over the internet, no matter how attractive the price.
Young swimmers should race in training standard suits when they start to compete, particularly at meets with no electronic timing. Once the level of competition warrants the added advantage, swimmers/parents should choose their race suit carefully. There is now a wide range of competition race suits to choose from for a variety of ages and it’s important to get the right one. One of the main advantages that all race suits offer the swimmers who wear them is muscle compression. It is important therefore to buy a suit that fits correctly, if the suit has creases and crinkles in it when worn then it is too big. If that is the smallest size available, then you are not ready for that suit. Generally, the more expensive the suit, the harder it will be to put on and if you cannot get into the size that you are measured for, you may have to consider if you are ready for that level of suit.
In a lot of cases with young swimmers, a tight training costume (perhaps one size smaller than usual) gives a better advantage than a specifically designed race suit that doesn’t fit correctly! Naturally, all race suits become stretched out the more they are worn and the element of muscle compression that the suit can offer begins to decrease. The element of muscle compression is also much more effective when the suit is dry and therefore should be kept dry right up until just before the race. Race suits do have a limited life span and should only worn for racing in, if you consider that most races are only a matter of minutes, then if a swimmer keeps a suit on for multiple hours, this in theory could ‘eat’ up the entire life of the suit, especially if the suit has bonded(glued) seams. Chlorine is a very corrosive substance and will eat away the glue which will be down to ‘user error’ rather than a manufacturing fault. Keeping the suit on for extended periods of time will also ‘eat’ into this time as the suit will dry whilst being stretched over the body.
In an ideal world, swimmers should wear a dry suit for all their races and for the shortest amount of time possible so they can gain full advantage of the suit and also make the suit last longer. This means putting the suit on at the last possible minute, before being called for the race and then removing it as soon as possible, after the race. This can be achieved at competitions where 1-2 races are spread out throughout the day such as Nationals and certain Level 1 Meets, especially for more senior swimmers who begin to specialise.
However, in the vast majority of meets this ideology is not possible and we have to adapt but still educate young swimmers in the correct processes for later in their swimming. Most competitions, particularly with young age group swimmers, require multiple events within any given day and often with very little rest in between making this difficult/impossible to avoid wearing a dry suit for each race and/or wearing a wet race suit for prolonged periods of time.
Our advice would be to have at least two suits that you are able to race in (may include tighter training costumes/jammers) and plan your competition day, estimating when it is possible to change your suit for a dry one between races. Consider prioritising your races and saving your best suit for your best events. Sitting around for a long time between races in a wet race suit will also compress your muscles when they should be resting as well as shortening the life of your race suit by stretching the material. Do not use your race suit for warm ups.
General rules to follow:
Don’t wear race suits when there is no electronic timing
Consider wearing tight training suits at a young age (additional expenses of race suits not necessary)
Ensure any race suit you buy fits correctly with no creases
Avoid top-end suits until Regional standard
Avoid sitting around in the suit for any longer than is necessary
Try to wear a dry race suit/costume/jammers for each race where possible
Consider wearing tight training suits for secondary races / competitions
Care of your Race Suit
Let the suit dry naturally avoiding artificial heat sources such as changing room hand dryers, hair dryers, radiators, full body dryers, airing cupboards, tumble dryers and irons.
Race suits are not chlorine resistant, this manifests itself most obviously in the bonded seems coming unstuck.
Do not sit around on poolside in your race suit, pools side generally are tiled and can be rough, these rough edges will cause your suit to rip.
Tears, Rips and Holes do not appear in the middle of fabric without some kind of outside influence.
Wear the suit as little as possible to ensure the suit performs to the highest level when you need it.
All race suits have 'wear indicators' which if worn for extended periods of time will wear away and indicate how long the suit has been worn for.