Many people already feel that women’s bathing suits are too revealing. These same people have also noticed a pattern; that many women’s swimsuits either have an open back design or a keyhole design (a hole in the back). Why is this even a thing? Is it a ploy from swimsuit manufacturers to objectify women by forcing them to show more skin? Or is there, perhaps, a less cynical and practical purpose?
There are many practical reasons for bathing suits to have a hole in the back. For one, it allows water to flow through the one piece rather than get trapped, and it lets their arms have a greater range of motion, so it improves a swimmer’s speed overall. The hole in the back also frees up an area of skin so that it does not get chafed during a long practice. Many swimmers also like how having more skin exposed gives them a better feel for the water, helping them to feel faster during training and racing.
As you can see, there are many practical and legitimate benefits to having an open back or keyhole design in women’s one piece swimsuits. Generally speaking, the more fabric a swimsuit has, the more it will get in the way and slow you down. Therefore, in order to achieve maximum performance and safety, swimsuits need to have less fabric while still being able to provide sufficient coverage, so making a hole in the back was the best compromise.
One piece swimsuits with a hole in the back are best for swimming
If all you plan on doing is leisurely lounge around the beach or pool, you can wear whatever swimsuit style you want. That said, if you plan on swimming laps, there absolutely are correct and incorrect choices. The correct choices are to wear a one piece swimsuit with either a keyhole or open back design, and any other answer is a subpar choice.
Yes, two piece swimsuits like bikinis or tankinis look cute and will get a lot of attention both in-person and online if you’re uploading to social media. But, two piece swimsuits are impractical for swimming; ever notice why those girls are never actually in the water? The second you attempt to do a butterfly stroke, expect the top half, bottom half, or both halves to come flying off. They are not able to stay on your body the same way a one piece swimsuit can.
That said, one piece swimsuits are not foolproof. You still need to get a swimsuit that is the right size. You also have to consider cup size, bust shape, rib cage size, and so on. If a swimsuit doesn’t fit you properly, it can still catch water or slow you down whether there are keyhole functions or not.
Why one piece swimsuits have a hole in the back
Nothing is worse to a swimmer than poor hydrodynamics. Swimmers will literally shave hair off their entire body if it even gives them a 1% boost to their speed. They will wear a swim cap because it improves their head shape so that they are just a tiny bit more hydrodynamic.
Having a hole in the back is a step towards being more hydrodynamic. As water flows through the swimsuit, there is a potential for the suit to get waterlogged if there are not enough openings for the water to exit from. Having that hole in the back (and sometimes even the front) allows water to pass through easily, preventing waterlogging.
More range of motion
In order to do the various swimming strokes, the shoulders and even the back should be exposed so that there is no restriction to these movements whatsoever. Having a hole in the back is great, having an open back design is even better.
No matter how well your swimsuit fits, if you spend an hour or longer swimming, then the repetitive motion of your skin moving back and forth against the swimsuit fabric will eventually become painful.
What’s happening is that the friction between your skin and the fabric is causing micro-tears in your skin, and if you allow the chafing to continue, the tears will get even bigger and more painful.
By having a hole in the back, swimmers will at least never have to worry about the swimsuit chafing against their back and this can improve comfort tremendously.
This point is purely logical. If your swimsuit has less fabric, it will also dry faster purely because it absorbs less water. It also means that you get more airflow which also facilitates faster drying. Feeling the wind on your back on the beach also just feels very nice.
It just feels and looks good
Not everyone likes to be all covered up. It feels good to have the water glide past your smooth skin. It’s the same kind of feeling when you shave your body and you feel like you’re faster and way more hydrodynamic, which actually results in performance increases. By having a hole in the back of the swimsuit, that is another surface area that you can directly feel the water against your skin, and that feels great.
Since that hole in the back provides so many practical benefits, you might as well lean into it. That hole in the back looks fantastic. You can show off your powerful back muscles while swimming laps around everyone. What’s not to like?
Should you get a closed back or open back swimsuit?
The biggest determining factors for whether you should get an open back or closed back swimsuit are simply comfort or personal preference.
Some swimmers prefer having more fabric on their back because they like the feel of the added compression and the water wicking abilities that the extra fabric provides. Swimsuits are typically UV resistant, so more coverage also means less sunscreen is needed when out by the beach.
Others prefer the exact opposite, wanting to feel as free as possible and having a hole in the back or a completely open back. Any extra fabric could potentially create more friction that can lead to painful chafing during a long swimming session. They also prefer having greater range of motion which an open back style is conducive to.
If you’re not sure what type of swimsuit to get, you should consider calling some shops and asking for sizing kits so that you can try out different styles and determine which one you prefer.