The Use of Race /Tech Suits

The club has a policy to complement periodic training cycles with the targeted use of race suits.  The start of a training cycle is not a time to be aiming for or focussing on pbs. Swimmers should be focused on embedding skills, technique and tactics; by improving all these processes in race situations, swimmers will then find that the improvements made, combined with adjustments to training loads towards the end of the cycle, will compliment the desire for faster times at focused or target meets.

We are well aware of  the investment parents and swimmers make, both in terms of time and money in an effort to maximise performance; and it is hoped that by reducing the time spent wearing race suits, and by using them more effectively, suits will last longer and work better for our swimmers.


‘Race / Tech Suit’ means a suit that provides compression – either partial or full body – and has bonded/meshed seams.  Tech suits are typically water repellent.  All these qualities deteriorate with use.  Typical cost £200+ for girls / £100+ for boys

‘Entry-level Suit’ means a suit offering minimal compression (to test this, see if the fabric stretches without too much resistance – if it does, generally it is not a compression suit) and typically with flat-locked seams which are visible / slightly raised on the surface of the suit.  Cost – around £60-£100 for girls / £40 - £60 for boys.

‘Training cycle’ means a period of the year – typically Sept – Dec / Jan – Apr / May – July, which starts with heavy race programmes, focussing on skills, technique & tactics and works towards a focus meet, where swimmers aim to swim their fastest times of that cycle

‘Skill improvements’ are improvements in starts, turns, underwater work and transitions

‘Technical improvements’ are improvements in stroke mechanics

‘Tactical improvements’ are improvements in how the swimmer swims each race – breath control, pacing and stroke rates


Information for parents: How do race/tech suits work?

The purpose of race/tech suits, bullet hats and race goggles is to create a more streamlined profile in the water, the suits aid by providing compression on the major muscles to aid their performance.  In an ideal world, swimmers should wear a dry suit for all their races and have the suit on for the shortest amount of time possible. This is so they can gain full advantage of the suit & make it 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, allowing drying time in-between race

Factors that have a detrimental affect the performance of race suits include:

  • Sitting around in wet suits.  

The muscle compression benefit of these suits works much better when the suits are dry, so wearing the same, wet suit for every race reduces it’s effect.

  • Stretching of the suit fabric.

Race suits have a limited life span – if you consider that most races are only a matter of minutes, then if a swimmer keeps a suit on for a couple of hours, this could in theory ‘eat’ up the entire life span of the suit, especially if the suit has bonded (glued) seams.

Similarly, if the suit dries while stretched on a swimmer’s body, this reduces the strength of compression the next time it is worn.

  • Chlorine  - a very corrosive substance that will eat away at the glue in the seams of bonded suits.
  • Sizing.  It can be common in younger swimmers to buy a suit in a slightly larger size to ‘get more wear out of it’, meaning it has little / no compression properties at first (and may even have a drag suit effect, collecting water and slowing the swimmer down).  In a lot of cases, a tight training or entry-level costume gives a better advantage than a specifically designed race suit that doesn’t fit correctly.


When should swimmers wear race suits?

Due to the high cost of these pieces of equipment, many swimmers only have one race/tech suit.  Sitting around between races in a compression suit can, over the course of a meet, have a negative effect on a swimmer’s well-being and performance, reducing blood flow, causing poorly performing muscles and negatively impacting performance outcomes.  

Ultimately swimmers need to understand the importance of developing themselves rather than relying on technology.