There are many reasons why one might not want to wear a swimsuit anymore. One might not have gone swimming in a long time and no longer have a swimsuit that fits anymore. One might have forgotten to pack their swimwear for their trip, or even lost it during the trip. Yet another person might have not properly washed or dried their swimsuit before storing it, and so the next time they open up their bag, they are treated to a moldy surprise.
There are even those who take great care of their swimwear, making sure to wash it afterwards and let fully air dry, yet are dismayed when it eventually deteriorates and becomes unwearable due to long-term chlorine exposure anyway.
What I’m getting at is, I can understand how frustrating it is to have to pony up cash for a new swimsuit semi-regularly just because your old swimsuit has become unusable. It might seem easier to just wear regular clothing, perhaps a raggedy old T-shirt and shorts that you don’t mind ruining, into the water instead of a proper swimsuit.
Is it okay to wear anything other than a swimsuit into the water for swimming? The closest thing to swimwear you can get that isn’t swimwear is probably activewear. Workout clothes are often made of similar materials to swimwear, and they have similar properties like being lightweight, moisture wicking, and UV protection. Activewear is probably your best bet if you don’t want to wear proper swim attire.
That said, there are some risks that you should be aware of before you actually do it.
Do this at your own risk
Before I provide any recommendations, I must caution you that swimming without swimwear can be incredibly unsafe. Unlike swimwear, regular clothing will absorb more water which makes them heavier and harder to stay afloat with, greatly increasing the risk of drowning.
Non-swimwear attire can also bleed its colors into the water which decreases the water quality, and loose fabric can end up clogging up pool filters. Not to mention, some clothing can become see-through when wet, so you risk exposing yourself.
For these reasons and more, there will often be a dress code at public swimming pools and at water parks that is strictly enforced. If you plan on going to any of these places without swimwear, you will be asked to change into something else, otherwise you are not allowed in the water.
With that said, if you are at the beach or a private pool (your own pool or a friend/family member’s) then no one will care to enforce a strict dress code on you.
However, you should be aware that there are risks involved which could affect your safety and affect the pool’s quality. Additionally, your regular clothes could be damaged by chlorine as well, so it actually comes with a financial cost; you might be better off just buying and wearing a swimsuit instead of wearing normal clothes in the pool.
With this disclaimer in mind, if you are still willing to try it out, then let’s get into some recommendations.
Can you substitute swimwear with activewear?
Activewear is clothing that was originally designed for land-based activities such as land sports and exercises such as running, hiking, biking, etc. With how popular and versatile they are, it has been used in various other contexts, and has even become a fashion statement in its own right. The question we are exploring today is, can activewear be used as swimwear?
While activewear is still not the same as a swimsuit, it is probably the closest non-swimwear attire that can be worn in the water. It already has many of the same qualities like moisture-wicking, breathability, fast-drying, and being lightweight.
Another important quality is how compressive, yet stretchy activewear is. This allows the swimsuit to stay on your body without restricting your movement much, if at all.
All of these benefits sound well and good, but at the end of the day, activewear is not swimwear. It can still suffer from some of the problems we mentioned such as colors bleeding into the water, and some activewear may not be as breathable or fast drying as others.
Swimsuits may also have special features such as a mesh lining in swim trunks that provide more support and reduce chafing. Swimwear will also resist chlorine better than activewear, so you should expect swimsuits to have a longer lifespan.
Which types of activewear can be worn in the water?
Depending on the water activity you plan on doing, your choice of activewear may differ. For instance, surfers can consider wearing leggings made of a material that is similar to board shorts (nylon or lycra) to prevent skin irritation when lying on the surfboard.
As a starting point, you may look for leggings designed for hot yoga. If these leggings are quick-drying enough when doing such a sweat-inducing activity, then they might be a good choice for swimming and water sports.
Sports bras are another good option since they often look like tankini tops anyways. They can provide support and comfort without causing chafing or irritation. Tank tops that have a built-in bra are also a good choice for the beach or pool.
For men, running shorts can substitute for board shorts or swim trunks as long as they are fast-drying.
Is it worth it?
If you are specifically buying activewear for your regular workouts and hoping that it can also double as a swimsuit, just a heads up. At the end of the day, activewear is not designed to be worn in the water.
With prolonged exposure to ocean or pool water, the chemicals in pool water and the salt in salt water can cause the synthetic materials to deteriorate rapidly.
You’ll find that your activewear may become discolored and faded in appearance. Over time, it will also lose its elasticity so it might not even fit you properly, and by then it’s probably done for.
Therefore, you are not really saving money if you need to replace your activewear often. On top of that, you have no guarantee that your activewear will feel as good or be as effective as regular swim attire in the first place.
The best solution is probably not what you want to hear, but it’s to pony up the cash and buy a swimsuit. You are not necessarily saving any money buying activewear that can double as swimwear because it’ll get ruined quickly.
Furthermore, and most importantly, swimwear is the safest thing you can wear in the water because it is lightweight, does not absorb much water, is comfortable, and is fast-drying on land. Swimwear also has a UPF rating, meaning it provides excellent sun protection.
If you happen to have lost your swimsuit or your old one doesn’t fit you anymore, rather than look for alternatives, just buy another swimsuit. It will be worth the money.