Taking care of your race suit is the best way to extend the life of your tech suit. When taken care of properly, you’ll find that your suit will last at least a year. If not more!
If you don’t take care of it though and use it when you really shouldn’t, you’ll probably go through about two suits in a year.
At around $200-600 a suit, that price adds up quickly! Especially if you’re already on a budget.
Related article: Competitive Swimming on a Budget
So how do you extend the life of your tech suit? Here are 15 suggestions to help care for your suit so you can use it longer.
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1. Don’t wear your suit to practice
Despite what some swimmers think, you shouldn’t wear your tech suit to practice. Wearing your suit to practice ruins not just the life of the fabric, but also introduces the risk of snagging and tearing.
Yes, you should try your suit on and take it for a quick test run in the pool before your meet. However, you should only stay in long enough for a 200-300 and at least one start before you’re ready to take it off again. And once you’re done testing out the suit, make sure you rinse it out!
Tech suits also work best when they’re worn sparingly, if only for the mental piece. If you wear your race suit to every practice, you run the risk of losing the ‘fast feeling’ that comes with wearing a tech suit.
2. Rinse your tech suit out with cold water
After each meet, you should always rinse your tech suit out with cold water.
When rinsing your suit, don’t rub the fabric together. Rather, just let the water run over the whole suit. This helps wash away the chlorine from the fabric.
The fabric of the tech suit is already paper thin. When the pool chemicals sit on the fabric, they begin to eat away at the material, causing ‘dry rot’. Dry rot happens when the material starts to become transparent and thin. Well, thinner. 🙂
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Rinsing out your suit won’t stop dry rotting, but it can help prevent it for longer periods. Rinsing out your suit is a simple but easy way to extend the life of your tech suit.
And for that matter, you should also do this with your regular practice suit to help with longevity as well.
3. Don’t wear your tech suit in the shower
If you shower after meets, take a few minutes to wiggle out of your race suit before hitting the shower.
We know the siren call of the shower is a strong one. But hot water mixed with shampoo and body wash isn’t the best for your tech suit.
Take your suit off and rinse it out first. And then take your shower. We promise the shower will still be there in the 3-5 minutes or so that it takes to do this.
Your suit and bank account will thank you! 🙂
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4. Don’t use the suit dryer
Yes, you might see other swimmers put tech suits in the suit dryer. This doesn’t mean that you have to do it, too! 🙂
Your tech suit should never enter the suit dryer machine. Why?
It increases the chance for snags and tears, and also lessens the resistance of the fabric. Instead, after washing out your suit, you should lay it out flat on a dry towel. Never let your suit hang and drip dry, and don’t wring out the water.
You should also try to do this for your regular suits you use at practice, too. Suit dryers are great at getting out water from suits. But they’re not always the best for the suit itself.
5. Let your suit dry completely
Extending the life of your tech suit isn’t just about taking care of the suit itself. It’s also about proper handling.
This should go without saying, but make sure your suit is completely dry before putting it back into storage or back on your body.
Storing a suit damp will attract mold and mildew, which can damage the fabric of the suit. And putting on a damp suit, while possible, is much more difficult than putting on a dry suit.
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If the suit is damp when you’re trying to put it on, you’re inviting the risk to tear the fabric.
Damp or wet fabric catches easier on your skin and makes it easier to tear a seam. Nothing is more heart stopping than hearing fabric rip as you’re struggling into it.
6. Make sure your body is completely dry
As a rule of thumb, if your suit should be dry before wiggling into it, so too should your body.
You should already know how long it takes to put on a suit. Take that time and add in about 5-7 minutes to account for extra drying off time and time to use the restroom.
Make sure you get all the water dried off and keep your towel handy as you go.
It’s also important to know that even though you dry off completely, you can still sweat while putting on your tech suit. These suits are incredibly tight and it’s not uncommon for swimmers to start to sweat while fighting with their suit.
And if the locker room is crowded, that much body heat only increases the chances of working up a sweat.
If this happens, remember that it’s okay. Take your time and dry off as needed. Ask for help if you can. Most swimmers know what you’re going through and are happy to lend a hand with suit straps if you ask.
7. Go to the restroom before putting on your tech suit
Nothing is worse than getting the suit up over your hips and realizing you need to use the restroom.
Yes, the pool is available, but not for everything 😉
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It seems like such a simple thing to say, but many will forget to think about it. And they usually don’t realize it until the suit is already on.
With that said, go to the bathroom before putting your suit on.
We all know that once the suit is on, it’s not coming off again until your final race is over. For some, that might be only an hour or so. But others might have a longer wait until then.
8. Use socks when putting on your suit
Toenails can be sharper than you think.
Keeping socks on your feet when you first start putting your suit can help extend the life of your tech suit. It’s a simple thing, but it keep snags from happening.
They also have the added benefit of keeping your toes warm when you’re getting changed!
Related article: How to Stay Warm at Swim Meets
9. Trim your nails
While on the subject of nails, take the time before your meet to trim your fingernails and toenails.
We know a lot of swimmers like to get their nails done before big championship meets. Especially high school or college swimmers going to their championship meet. While we can’t stop you from showing school or team spirit, take your suit into consideration before getting your nails done.
Some coaches don’t allow the swimmers on their teams to get fake nails at championship meets to avoid an accidents. If you plan to get your nails done, make sure your coach doesn’t have a rule against fake nails.
10. Use older tech suits when possible
You’ll find that most swimmers hold onto old suits, even after buying newer suits.
Yes, those old suits have started dry rotting, but you might be surprised at how well they can last despite the fabric turning near see through.
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These suits are great for smaller meets where you might want to chase a cut but wouldn’t typically wear a newer suit. Doing this can extend the life of a newer tech suit while still allowing you the benefit of a ‘fast suit’
11. Warm up in your practice suit
Much like wearing your tech suit to practice, wearing one during a general warm up at a meet increases the chances of the suit tearing or snagging.
Warm ups can be hectic and crowded with hundreds of swimmers in the pool. Do yourself a favor and wait until after the warm up to change into your suit.
This not only saves it from trouble, but keeps that special ‘race feeling’ for just before and during the race. If you have to warm up with your tech suit, slip another suit over it to help protect the fabric.
12. Don’t sit around in your tech suit
Most swimmers change into their tech suits the moment they finish their warm up. Even if they won’t race for another hour or so.
This isn’t just bad for the fabric/suit, but it’s also rough on your body. Tech suits are tight around your thighs, hips, and up over your shoulders. Even if you roll the suit straps down, the fabric still constricts the legs for longer than they should.
In short, you’re not doing your body any favors.
Personally, we don’t change into a tech suit until we absolutely have to. And even then, it’s probably a bit on the early side. But sometimes nerves get the better of you.
If you’re not sure when you should change into your suit, check the heat sheet. See how many events and heats you have before your event, and do the math on how much time it’ll take.
Related article: How to Read a Heat Sheet
13. Change out of your suit to cool down after your final race
After your final race, take a breather by changing out of your suit before cooling down.
Slip back into your practice suit, rinse out your tech suit, and then cool down. Changing after your final race has the added benefit of allowing your muscles to breathe a bit easier. It’s also a much needed break for your shoulders and hips.
14. Be patient and take your time when putting a suit on/off
Nothing is more heart stopping than hearing a suit rip.
It’s enough to make you freeze in fear and hope that it’s not yours. The first few times you put on a new suit are always the worst. But even with old suits, you should take your time when wiggling into them.
Review the heat sheet or timeline for the meet and plan accordingly. Allow yourself more time to put on your suit than what you expect so you’re not rushing.
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Even when you’re taking your suit off, take a few moments to pull it off carefully.
Have someone help you with the straps, if needed. It’s better to ask for that help then risk tearing something. Most swimmers already know your pain and are more than willing to help.
15. Store your suits properly
When bringing your suits to a meet, make sure you store them in a plastic baggie. This will help prevent anything in your bag from getting to the suit.
We like to keep our suits in the plastic bag the suit came in and then sticking the bag in the mesh bag that was provided. Double security 🙂
When not in use, keep your suits somewhere dry and out of the way so nothing can snag them. You can either hang them up or keep them in a plastic baggie.
Tech suits can be expensive and a drain on your budget if they’re not used or maintained properly. However, with the right care, you can extend the life of your tech suit farther than you expected.
Hopefully these tips help breathe some extra life into your racing suit and your banking account!
As always, happy swimming!
What to Bring to a Swim Meet: Not sure what to bring to a swim meet meet? Here’s a list of essential items to pack in your swim bag for your next swim meet.
Things You Should do at a Swim Meet (But Aren’t): (coming soon)
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