If your ideal day by the water involves some volleyball, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding, you'll want a stylish swimsuit that also provides function. Thankfully, some bathing suit brands have launched swimwear with performance and different body types in mind.
These water-sports-worthy suits feature everything from compression fits and chlorine-resistant, UV-blocking materials to high necklines and supportive built-in bras.
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How We Chose
We know that shopping for bathing suits can be a big chore, so we did exhaustive research and chatted with experts to and gather some of the best swimsuit brands for an active day at the beach or pool, based on the following criteria:
And even if you're not looking to sweat under the sun, these bathing suits feel comfortable on all body shapes and sizes.
The Best One-Piece Swimsuits
One-piece swimsuits are ideal for competitive swimming and water sports like diving and surfing because they stay in place and you won't need to adjust them mid-workout, according to Caroline Juster, CFSC, a Chicago-based certified functional strength coach.
And because they offer more coverage, they create less drag and may help you move faster in water, Juster adds. Single-piece suits also usually have a snugger, more supportive fit, says Brad Whitley, DPT, a California-based physical therapist. That gives you more freedom to move around without the worry of being exposed.
1. Speedo Solid Sweetheart One Piece
Buy it: Speedo.com; Price: $89.50
2. Nike Essential U-Back One-Piece Swimsuit
Buy it: DicksSportingGoods.com; Price: $98
3. Halcurt One-Piece Rashguard Swimsuit
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $37.99
The Best Two-Piece Swimsuits
If you're a fan of beach bootcamp, two-piece bathing suits offer a little more versatility, Juster says. That's because two-piece suits allow you to jump right into the water after a sweaty training session. You can layer them with leggings or shorts and then slip them off when you're ready to dive into the water.
"I suggest buying one specifically designed for athletics," she says. "You want a suit that fits snugly and provides enough coverage [generally a larger top piece] to minimize adjustments."
Full bottoms are probably best for exercise, too. After all, you wouldn't want to pick a wedgie doing squats or lunges.
For people with large breasts, choose a bathing suit with a high-neck design or that offers a variety of cup sizes. That way, you'll get more support for exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups and burpees. Pro tip: Shop for a top that fits a lot like your favorite sports bra.
1. TYR Solid Durafest One Diamondback Workout Bikini
Buy it: SwimOutlet.com; Price: $64.99
2. Athleta Maldives High Neck Bikini Top
Buy it: Athleta.com; Price: $69
3. Athleta Conscious Crop Bikini
Buy it: Athleta.com; Price: $64
The Best Tankinis
There are two main things you want to think about when looking for a tankini: First, you want the chest area to fit much like a sports bra. It should feel supportive and comfortable around your breasts. Higher necklines, for example, are ideal for exercise.
For the midsection, Whitley says you want to avoid a skin-tight fit, but it should sit relatively snug around your abdomen, especially if you're planning to play water sports or swim laps.
1. Speedo High Neck Tankini
Buy it: Speedo.com; Price: $40.98
2. Land's End Mastectomy Tankini Swimsuit
Buy it: LandsEnd.com; Price: $72.95
3. Land's End Mastectomy Blouson Tankini Swimsuit
Buy it: LandsEnd.com; Price: From $39.99 to $82.95
The Best Full-Coverage Swimsuits
Full-coverage swimsuits and separates are great for those who want extra sun protection or who dress modestly. Look for options made of nylon, Lycra, elastane and polyester. These materials are not only breathable, but also quick-drying.
However, Lycra can degrade in chlorine over time, Juster warns. So if you plan to spend most of your water time in a pool, find a suit that blends nylon and Lycra to counter the effects of chlorine. Or, check the product details to find a suit that's chlorine-resistant.
1. SummerSalt Sun Shield Swim Tunic
Buy it: SummerSalt.com; Price: $65
2. Adidas 3-Stripes Swim Pants
Buy it: Adidas.com; Price: $70
3. Nike Women's Swim Hijab
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $46
The Best Swim Briefs
For competitive swimming, Juster recommends snug-fitting brief bottoms. Although swim shorts or trunks (more on that below) offer more coverage, briefs are more supportive and help you move quickly in the water.
"A loose suit is just as problematic as a suit that's too tight," Juster says. "You want to feel confident that the suit will stay on your body and not provide any unnecessary drag as you exercise."
For beach workouts, you can also layer a pair of briefs under your swim trunks or exercise shorts for extra support and an easy land-to-water transition.
1. Speedo The One Brief
Buy it: Speedo.com; Price: $39
2. Speedo Shoreline Square Leg
Buy it: Speedo.com; Price: $55
The Best Swim Shorts
Swim shorts and trunks offer more coverage and are best for beach workouts over an intense swim workout. You'll want to look for those made of polyester, Lycra, nylon or elastane, Whitley says, because they wick away sweat, prevent chafing and dry quickly.
Swim shorts are available in different lengths, so find one that's appropriate for your height. Taller folks might prefer 9- or 10-inch shorts, while shorter people might like a 5-inch length. Bottom line: Choose one that makes you feel comfortable and confident.
1. Land's End Quick-Dry Elastic Waist Board Short
Buy it: LandsEnd.com; Price: $35.97
2. Lululemon Current State Board Short 9"
Buy it: Lululemon.com; Price: $98
3. Lululemon Deep Determination Swim Short 10"
Buy it: Lululemon.com; Price: $59
Buy it: Kohls.com; Price: $22.50
3 Tips for Buying the Best Swimsuit Brands
1. Choose a Style
Beach or pool days look different for everyone. While some love to bust out squats on the sand, others prefer to swim laps. Choose a swimsuit that's appropriate for your activity.
For example, one-piece bathing suits are a safe bet for all activities because they stay put and offer support and coverage, Juster says. But if you want more breathability, opt for a two-piece suit.
The most important thing is that you find a swimsuit that fits comfortably and allows you to move freely.
"If the suit is slipping off your body in sensitive places as you move, rotate and stretch, you will be constantly adjusting as you go," Juster says.
Swimming, water sports and beach workouts
Beach workouts and swimming
Competitive swimming and water sports
Beach workouts and casual swimming
2. Look for Quick-Drying Fabrics
Just like your gym clothes, sweat-wicking fabric is best for your swimwear, Juster says. A blend of Lycra, nylon or polyester is ideal. These materials will keep you dry under the beating sun or after jumping into the water. Plus, they wash easily.
You also want to pay attention to fabric thickness and length, Juster says. For open-water swimming, especially in colder water, opt for a thicker, long-sleeve one-piece swimsuit or wetsuit. It will cover more of your skin to help preserve body temperature.
3. Find What Makes You Feel Confident
At the end of the day, your personal comfort is the top priority. While different bathing suits work better for certain activities, the amount of coverage you want is totally up to you.
"You want to pick a cut that helps you feel confident so you can focus on your workout and reduce distractions," Juster says.