If you want more support and coverage while swimming than what most bikini tops provide, you might have asked the question: can you swim in a sports bra? Sports bras are obviously a great option for sports on land, but how do they hold up underwater? Can they be worn as a swim top substitute?
While you can wear sports bras for swimming, it would violate the dress code at most swimming pools, so you cannot wear them there. You can still wear sports bras at private pools or at the beach, but there are some things to keep in mind. First, the materials aren’t intended to be exposed to saltwater or chlorinated water, so they will deteriorate quickly. Second, they may absorb too much water and take a long time to dry.
It’s generally not a good idea to wear workout clothes as swim attire for the reasons described above, but at least they are a better option than regular clothing. In this article, we will go over the pros and cons of wearing a sports bra for swimming so that you know the risks involved when doing so.
Can I wear a sports bra in the pool?
Public swimming pools enforce dress codes for the safety of the guests and so that the quality of the pool water can remain high. Dress codes between swimming pools are mostly the same.
They specifically want you to wear swim attire (i.e. garments designed specifically to be worn in the pool or ocean), not regular clothing that you are using as swim attire. Thus, regular clothes are banned, and even activewear like sports bras are banned.
The first reason is due to safety. Swim attire is designed to be thin and lightweight. They are also not very absorbent and dry quickly. All of this means that, in the water, you are not weighed down or restricted in any way. Regular clothes and workout clothes will become waterlogged and bogged down, drastically increasing the risk of drowning.
The second reason is the pool water quality. Salt and chlorine, which are found in high quantities in the ocean and pool respectively, can damage most materials if they aren’t rinsed off. Swimwear is more resistant to them, but even they will wear down quickly if not rinsed off. How much worse is it for regular clothing?
When clothing deteriorates and starts to break down, the particulates and strands end up in the pool water and eventually into the pool filter. There may even be color run off because the dye found in normal clothes aren’t intended to be exposed to harsh chemicals. All of these things decrease the water quality and make the pool unsanitary.
Even though sports bras are a much better option than most other clothing, they are still technically not proper swim attire. Therefore, they are not allowed in most swimming pools. If you are unsure, we recommend you call your local pool to confirm if it’s allowed or not.
Can I wear a sports bra as a bikini top?
Aside from public pools, you can wear a sports bra as a bikini top at private pools (i.e. your own pool or a friend or family member’s) or at the beach or lake. However, you will still encounter the same issues described above. You are putting yourself at greater risk of drowning by wearing sub-optimal swimwear, and you’re also reducing its lifespan greatly.
That said, it’s not all downsides. There are some benefits that sports bras provide, such as:
Added comfort and support
If you have large breasts, you will struggle to find a bikini top that is both comfortable and supportive enough. You have a better chance at finding a unicorn. If you plan on being active in the water and your “girls” need a lot of support, sports bras are an easy solution to this problem.
Sports bras are extremely comfortable; many women wear them all the time in lieu of regular bras. They provide much needed support and don’t have any annoying metal wires. You can feel confident knowing that you’re covered up and that there won’t be any wardrobe malfunctions with sports bras on.
They look great
Sports bras used to look very tacky. Nowadays, they look fantastic. They can come in many patterns that can convince others that you’re wearing a tankini top.
You can also get sports bras in different styles, from criss-cross to racerback to pull over, there are so many to choose from. The amount of options also contribute to how comfortable and supportive they are.
Why shouldn’t you wear a sports bra while swimming?
As comfy and supportive as sports bras are, they are not without flaws if you try to use them as bikini tops. See if these issues are enough to put you off wearing them in the water.
They will get damaged
The materials used to make the sports bra, as well as the dyes used to color them, are not intended to be worn in the pool or ocean. While it’s true that they are marketed as being moisture wicking to better deal with sweat or rain, they don’t fare so well against the concentrations of salt and chlorine found in the ocean and pool water respectively.
You will quickly find your sports bra getting discolored, and its material much thinner. What was once a very supportive bra will end up falling apart if you keep subjecting it to chlorine and salt.
They absorb too much water
Another issue arises from the materials; sports bras will absorb more water than proper swim attire. This causes it to take a long time to dry when you’re back on land. If you are drenched the whole time, you will feel cold and miserable. It also makes it very annoying to sit down or lean against surfaces because you are just getting everything wet.
When your clothes are wet and you are moving around in them a lot, it also makes them prone to stretching. You may find that your sports bra will get increasingly looser and less supportive much faster than normal when you go swimming in it.
The biggest issue has to do when you’re in the water. Since sports bras are more absorbent than regular bikini tops, they will cause you to feel sluggish and heavy. This can affect your ability to stay afloat and waste a lot of your energy. The end result is an increased risk of drowning.
Do you still want to swim in a sports bra?
Technically, you can go swimming wearing whatever you want, including sports bras. The question is: is it a good idea? With sports bras, at least there are some decent arguments in favor of it, so it’s not a completely cuckoo idea. With that said, there are some serious downsides you should not be ignoring.
These downsides are the same for any other non-swimwear attire. Admittedly, sports bras handle these downsides much better than, say, wearing jeans and a T-shirt into the water, but it’s still sub-optimal regardless.
If you’re looking for a swimwear top that provides more support and coverage, we recommend spending more time looking for one that is actually designed to be worn in the water and not settling for a sports bra. If you’re willing to deal with the increased odds of drowning, significantly reduced lifespan of your sports bra, and lower quality water in the pool, then you do so at your own risk.