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Clothes for Swimming Lessons

Sportswear is best for advanced swimming lessons because it is robust and designed to get wet. For fun lessons in the pool you want quick drying clothes that feel good both wet or dry. This means you can get in and out of the water quickly and follow the lesson without distraction.

Some clothing can be hard to put on or take off when it is wet. This can get you frustrated during the lesson. We recommend buying comfortable clothes which are meant to get wet and fit well in the water. Try them on in your bathtub or shower first. Below you find a detailed list of kit for each stage of the swimming course.

Choose Your Kit

A good choice are three unlined clothing layers. Start swimming in the base layer, then add middle and outer layer over time. For this training wear all the clothes you would wear for your watersports, even socks and shoes where applicable. The point is to make the training as realistic as possible.

Beginners: T-shirt and Shorts

Tee-shirt and shorts in bright colours is best for beginners, very easy to swim in. This is the basic swimwear you will need for all lessons. More will be worn on top later in the course.

You can wear your usual T-shirt and shorts in the pool. Nylon shorts and a swim shirt are easy to swim in and look great. They come in many colours and styles to make up stylish outfits.

Sportswear is best as it can cope with frequent immersions and is robust enough. Made from nylon or polyester it doesn't soak up much water and dries quickly. Any sports or footy kit will do as long as it is comfy and doesn't chafe. No need to buy special swimwear.

Put aside a few shirts and shorts as part of your swimming kit. Always keep them in your swim bag when dry. Wet kit should be hung up to dry as soon as possible, otherwise it starts to rot and smell.

Intermediate: Long-Sleeve Top and Long Pants

Sportswear or tracksuits are often thicker and take more swimming effort (resistance training) because they soak up more water. This additional clothing layer is deliberately used to slow down the students and make swimming harder. It is worn on top of the shirt and shorts from the beginner lessons.

Long trousers, jeans or tracksuit bottoms are combined with a sweatshirt or hoodie for more the demanding lessons. Cotton soaks up much more water and gets heavy, but it takes longer to dry out.

sweatshirt swimming fully clothed
sweatshirt swimming fully clothed


Advanced: Waterproof Clothes

Unlined anoraks and rain pants are best for water safety training and splash sports. Waterproof clothes are worn on top of the beginner or intermediate outfits for survival swim training or adventure swimming preparation.

These clothes cause some considerable drag when swimming and are thus useful for strength and endurance training. They are also ideal for any fun splash sports in the pool, like canoe and kayak lessons, or wild water games with frequent immersion.

Although they don't soak up much water, they hold pockets of air and water that swimmers should learn how to handle. Special techniques can quickly vent any air and drain water away.

Finally, students will learn how to make a buoyancy aid using their pants. It is important to get the right pants for it to easily inflate like a balloon. Some pants just do not inflate as the air escapes from the tiny pores in the fabric. Waterproof pants work best.

Now that you're properly dressed for your swimming experience, choose a safe and shallow area to begin with, maybe chest deep. This can be a beach, lake, or swimming pool. As you gain strength and fitness, increase your training level.

Are Clothes Heavy in Water?

Not really. Clothes weigh very little in water. Throw an item of clothing into a swimming pool and notice how slowly it sinks, if at all. Pull it out of the pool and it gets heavy with all the water it soaked up. Cotton and fleece soaks up more than unlined nylon rainwear.

Don't Confuse Slow Down with Weigh Down

Many people who haven't tried swimming fully clothed, wrongly think they get pulled down by the weight of wet clothes. But that only happens when you come OUT of the water.

When you wear your clothes in the water, they just float around you. The soaked up water only displaces water which would have been there anyway. Water weighs nothing in water, so they only weigh you down by their DRY weight, minus the weight of water displaced by the fabric.

However, the water which is soaked up by the fabric, or collects inside your clothes, will slow down your movements. This makes it harder on your muscles to move you forward and thus improves training results.

Keep Warm

Your clothing protects you from wind, sunburn, cuts and bruises. Which clothes you'll need depends on the weather and what sport you're training for, unless you swim in clothes just for fun.

Dress for immersion, not the air temperature. Clothes are meant to keep you warm. This also holds true in the water, up to a point. T-shirt, jeans and hoodie might be fun for resistance swim training, but cotton can seriously chill you out over time. It holds on to a lot of water which cools you as it evaporates.

Functional fibres like fleece keep you warm even when wet. You're more comfortable in the water when you dress warm enough in comfy clothes.

It may be quite a challenge to swim several lengths fully clothed, but it is healthy fun and gets you strong over time. Try a variety of outfits to gain confidence in the water. Once you're good at swimming in your adventure clothes and have achieved an adequate level of confidence, keep it up to stay fit.