If you want to enjoy being in the water in any capacity, you need to wear the appropriate swimwear. Whether you’re swimming, snorkeling, surfing, diving, or even just lounging around at the pool or beach, you need to wear the right clothing to stay covered up and safe.
People who are unfamiliar with swimsuits are curious as to what benefits swimsuits give. They may ask questions like, “Can I go swimming with normal clothes?” “What benefits do swimsuits have over normal clothes?” And, “Are swimsuits waterproof”?
The reason why swimsuits are worn in the water instead of normal clothes is not because they are waterproof but because they are the most practical thing to wear. If something is waterproof, it means that it repels water and keeps what it’s covering dry. Swimsuits are made with materials that absorb very little water which allows them to dry quickly. Since it absorbs so little water, it also means you will not get waterlogged which slows you down, restricts your movement, and can make it hard to stay afloat.
Swimsuits are not waterproof because they do not need to be waterproof. What’s wrong with getting wet when you’re in the water? Isn’t that literally the point? When it’s over a hundred degrees outside, you want to feel the cold water on your skin and experience the relief of getting away from the heat. If a swimsuit was waterproof, it would cause you to overheat under most circumstances.
In this article, we will discuss more about what you can expect from wearing swimsuits, what kinds of benefits they provide for you, and why they do not need to be waterproof.
How does a swimsuit work?
If you’ve been given the impression that swimsuits are waterproof, that’s probably because of how snug it fits on a swimmer’s body and how quickly it dries. This is all intentional and it’s possible thanks to the materials it is made from.
Most swimsuits are made of polyurethane (Lycra, Spandex, or Elastane). Some are made with Polyester, Nylon, or some blend of synthetic fibers.
Not only do these materials absorb very little water, but they are also very flexible. When you are in the water, you will feel like you can still perform your normal movements without being restricted or weighed down.
Another important attribute of a swimsuit is that it can withstand chlorine or salt much better than regular clothes. Chlorine is a harsh chemical used to sanitize pools, but it has a nasty side effect of deteriorating most clothing if exposed to it for too long.
Contrast this to wearing cotton or wool clothing. Both cotton and wool are extremely absorbent. When wet, they feel uncomfortable to wear, their colors will bleed, and they will get damaged by the chlorine or salt found in the water.
The most chlorine-resistant swimsuit material is Polyester. If you notice a swimsuit being marketed as “chlorine-resistant”, it is probably a 100% polyester swimsuit. You see, even regular swimsuits will deteriorate over time when exposed to chlorine, but a polyester swimsuit can last significantly longer.
These are the kinds of things that swimsuits are designed to do: absorb little water, dry quickly, fit tightly around your body so it covers up your private parts, allow for normal movement underwater, cover your body up from the sun, and resist chlorine. It is not waterproof and does not keep you dry, nor should it.
Are other types of swimwear waterproof?
So if swimsuits aren’t waterproof, what about other swimwear such as swimming caps, rash guards, or even wetsuits? Once again, the point of these swim attire is not to keep you dry by being waterproof**. You will still get wet if you wear a rash guard or wetsuit that covers your entire body.
**Technically a wetsuit is waterproof because water cannot penetrate through it. However, water can still enter from the arm, leg, and neck opening.
As for a rash guard, the main benefits it provides are rash protection, sun protection, and skin coverage if you don’t want to show so much skin. Though rash guards tend to fit you pretty snug, there are some that fit quite loose. Clearly, it is not designed to keep water out.
There is a significant misconception about wetsuits and how they work. The purpose of wetsuits is to keep you warm in the water. The misconception lies in how it keeps you warm. Many assume it does so by keeping you dry, but that’s how a drysuit works, not a wetsuit.
Ironically, wetsuits work by doing the exact opposite of what many people think it does; it lets some water flow inside the wetsuit and traps it inside. Wetsuits are made of neoprene, which is very effective at insulating heat. So the trapped water will eventually get warmed up by one’s body heat, which is kept trapped inside the wetsuit thanks to the neoprene.
The result is that wetsuits will help generate a warm protective layer of water underneath, helping the wearer stay warm. Wetsuits are typically worn by scuba divers because neoprene is a stiff material that restricts movement and makes it hard to swim in.
There are also wetsuits designed for surfers that provide less insulation but allow for greater range of motion. Just like scuba diving wetsuits, surfing wetsuits also are not waterproof in the sense that it does not keep you dry.
The swimsuit that cannot be exposed to water
Lately I’ve come across a swimsuit that is very interesting. It is clearly labeled as a swimsuit, looks like a swimsuit, and is intended to be worn around water. However, the product description clearly states that you cannot wear the swimsuit into the water because chlorine will ruin it.
This is perhaps the worst swimsuit of all time and shows how ridiculous fashion has become these days. This swimsuit costs approximately $400 and is available only at high end fashion stores, so I doubt you would ever accidentally buy a swimsuit like this.
However, it goes to show how important it is to read the label. Swimsuits are very delicate items. Even though they are designed to be worn in the water, they are not waterproof. If you do not properly rinse the swimsuit after swimming with it, and do not air dry it, then the water can result in mold growth. You will know this if you see black dots or a white powdery substance on your swimsuit.
Furthermore, even though swimsuits can resist chlorine better than regular clothes, they are not immune to its effects. Leaving chlorine on the swimsuit will cause it to deteriorate much faster. That is why you must rinse the chlorine off as soon as possible. If you are an avid swimmer, expect your swimsuit to wear down much faster than a casual swimmer.
At the end of the day, swimsuits are not waterproof, but they offer many benefits that make them the right choice to wear into the water. From covering up your private parts, to UV protection, to allowing you to have full range of motion, to its fasting drying capabilities and chlorine resistance, swimsuits are simply the best option if you plan on going to the pool or beach.
You don’t need swimsuits to be waterproof because you want to feel the cool water on your skin on a scorching hot day. Since swimsuits dry so quickly, even when you’re out of the water, you won’t feel like you’re wearing a damp piece of fabric the whole day. Give it a few minutes and you will feel dry again; no need to be waterproof in the first place.
If you truly want to wear a waterproof suit, then what you’re looking for is a drysuit, which is a completely different beast. Drysuits are worn by scuba divers that are diving in temperate or even freezing temperatures that not even a wetsuit can keep you warm in. Drysuits are also very expensive and require many layers underneath, so it’s quite the investment and not useful for swimming at all.