Discovering the right swimskin means balancing fit, reduced drag, and the latest in swim technology. Our firsthand reviews of this year’s list will help you find the best swimskins and guide your selection based on actual performance.
We’ll help you make an informed choice that fits both your swimming ambitions and budget, without overwhelming you with jargon or unnecessary details.
Table of Contents
What is a Swimskin
A swimskin is worn over a triathlon kit to enhance a swimmer’s speed by reducing drag in the water.
Unlike traditional swimsuits, which tend to be more form-fitting and made from materials like lycra, swimskins are constructed from advanced hydrophobic fabrics like polyurethane blends. These materials not only repel water but also provide compression, streamlining the swimmer’s body and minimizing resistance as they move through the water.
Swimskis do not provide warmth or buoyancy. They are designed to give the swimmer an advantage by making them more “slippery” in the water.
In a triathlon, the swimskin is removed quickly after the swim portion and the athlete continues to the bike portion in their normal kit that was worn under the swimskin.
Swimskin Vs. Wetsuit
When would you wear a swimskin and when would you wear a wetsuit in a triathlon or swimming competition?
Most athletes opt for a wetsuit when the water temperature is cold enough and the officials allow it. In an Ironman competition, temperatures have to be below 76.1 degrees F / 24.5 degrees C to be wetsuit-legal.
A wetsuit provides buoyancy, allowing less-experienced swimmers to be more streamlined (and faster) in the water. This buoyancy also helps swimmers who may suffer from race anxiety during a mass swim.
Perhaps most importantly, a wetsuit helps shield your body from the effects of cold water. I’ve been in water that would have been extremely dangerous without a wetsuit. However, if the water is warm, you can actually overheat in a wetsuit, which is why rules exist on their use.
Both a swimskin and a wetsuit will make a swimmer more hydrophobic in the water. They both help repel water away from an athlete and can lead to faster swim times.
When it’s too warm for a wetsuit, a swimskin is a good race-legal option.
The Best Swimskins
The swimskin market is introducing top-tier options as 2024 unfolds that cater to a range of needs, including:
- The hydrodynamic master Blueseventy PZ4TX
- The unparalleled compression powerhouse Roka MEN’S Viper X2
- The 2XU Propel is a worthy contender for people in pursuit of speed without sacrificing weight
- The ZONE3 Shortsleeve, which makes a fashionable splash in the swimskin scene, proves that style and function can indeed coexist
- The TYR Torque Pro, which champions freedom in movement, makes it a go-to choice for swimmers who value range of motion above all else.
Budget-conscious swimmers will appreciate the affordability of the Quintana Roo Hydrospeed without compromising on performance.
For beginners dipping their toes in the world of swimskins, the Synergy Synskin 3 is a reliable option. The Sailfish Rebel Pro 3 and Blueseventy PZ2TX stand at the top for those desiring high-end hydrophobicity.
Putting on the PZ4TX felt like having a second skin from my experience – it moved with me, not against me. I particularly loved its lightweight fabric, which added to my comfort without compromising on performance. The customer reviews echo my sentiment, with many swimmers reporting a noticeable improvement in speed.
The Blueseventy PZ4TX swimskin features:
- Premium Italian fabrics
- Locking zipper
- Ultrasonic welded seams
- Compressive properties, such as an innovative side panel
These features provide an impressive performance during warm water triathlon swims, optimizing body position and swimming performance that is often found only in a triathlon wetsuit.
- Material: Hydrophobic Italian fabrics
- Design: Locking zipper, Ultrasonic welded seams
- Ultrasonic welded seams reduce drag
- Stretchable fabric with excellent stretch characteristics enhances freedom of movement
- Designed for speed
- Higher price point as compared to other brands
- It may not suit those seeking a highly compressive fit
- “Just buy it already!”
- “The absolute best!”
- “Fit’s awesome and feels great. Love it.”
deboer Tsunami 3.0
The deboer Tsunami 3.0 swimskin builds upon the Tsunami 2.0 swimskin, with a key improvement. The Tsunami 3.0 has new Tridium fabric that actually helps decrease drag in the water. Decreasing drag means you go faster.
The Tridium fabric is FINA-approved.
- Material: Tridium (3Dium) fabric with a hexagonal 3D texture
- Design: Proven 3D weaving technology inspired by their wetsuits
- Near zero drag coefficient
- Slightly buoyant
- “Simply Amazing”
- “Top quality swimskin!”
- “Easy to remove in T1”
Roka Viper X2
In the realm of compression power, the Roka Viper X2 stands out. The swimskin’s ‘core power’ system is specifically engineered to enhance posture and deliver exceptional compression, significantly boosting swimming performance. The patented IXI Taping offers reduced drag, weight, and chafing compared to traditional sewing methods, enabling fast and unrestricted swimming.
Trying out the Viper X2 was a game-changer for me. The compression fit felt snug but not restrictive, and the hydrophobic Teflon coating provided an added edge by repelling water and reducing drag.
I swam with this swimskin in Kona and had one of the fastest non-wetsuit swims of my life.
It’s not just me – many other swimmers have vouched for the Viper X2’s exceptional compression and hydrophobic properties.
- Material: ‘Core power’ system
- Design: Patented IXI Taping, hydrophobic Teflon coating
- Exceptional compression enhances swimming performance
- Reduced drag, weight, and chafing due to proprietary taping method
- Hydrophobic Teflon coated
- May feel too compressive for those new to swim skins
- I felt the sleeved version was too tight around my shoulders and arms
- Higher price point
- “It really gives some advantage in cutting time from my swim.”
- “I found the sleeveless a perfect fit. Keeps your core tight without restricting your breathing.”
- “The fit and feel of the swim skin is amazing in would recommend it to anyone.”
Thanks to its advanced fabric technology, the 2XU Propel is a bona fide speed demon. The swimskin incorporates premium stretch-woven textiles from Italy, a hydrophobic coating, and high-tech bonded seam construction to minimize drag and enhance water glide, resulting in a significant improvement in speed.
Using the Propel, I discovered a perfect balance of speed and comfort. Its features include:
- Lightweight design that provides support and coverage without feeling restrictive
- Quick removal feature that comes in handy during transition in triathlon events
- A potent blend of flexibility, buoyancy, and speed
These features make it a preferred option for competitive swimmers like me seeking a powerful swimskin.
- Material: 71% nylon, 29% elastane
- Design: Advanced fabric technology
- Lightweight design enhances performance
- Quick removal of the tri suit during transition in triathlon events
- Might not suit those who prefer a more compressive fit
- Some swimmers may find the design too minimalistic
- “First ever swim skin, so don’t have anything else to compare it to, but did help my time during my recent tri swim.”
- “Did not feel restricted in my stroke at all and it came off easily in transition.”
- “Great product if you want those marginal gains and dollars are not a concern.”
- “The sizes run small”
- “Fit’s awesome and feels great. Love it.”
The ZONE3 Shortsleeve swimskin excellently combines style and performance. Its features include:
- Sleek silhouette
- Distinctive short-sleeve panel design
- Minimized potential drag
- Integration of form and function
- Fabric approved by FINA, created in partnership with Yamamoto
These features ensure top-tier quality and enhance both aesthetics and performance.
Wearing the Shortsleeve offered a refreshing departure from conventional swimskin designs. The short sleeve panel design felt liberating and the fit was just right, providing an excellent balance of compression and flexibility. The hydrophobic performance of the swimskin was impressive, and I found myself cutting through water with ease.
- Material: FINA-approved fabric that creates almost zero drag through the water.
- Design: Short sleeve panel, minimal fully bonded seams
- Stylish silhouette without compromising on performance
- Freedom of movement due to short sleeve panel design
- Some swimmers may find the short sleeve design unusual
- Higher price point compared to other brands
- “The build quality is amazing.”
- “The fabric is indeed water-repellent. Good quality. It feels very comfortable.”
- “Great for IM races!”
- “Beautiful skin but sizing is wrong.”
TYR Torque Pro
Putting on the Torque Pro felt like a breath of fresh air. The freedom of movement it offered compared favorably to other swimskins I’ve tried, and the minimized surface drag made a noticeable difference in my swimming speed.
It’s a solid choice for those who value range of motion and performance over high compression.
The TYR Torque Pro swimskin features:
- Less compressive fabric for unrestricted movement
- Swimmers’ Fit design for optimal performance
- Advanced bonded seam construction for durability and comfort
This swimskin exemplifies freedom in movement and is perfect for competitive swimmers.
- Material: Hydrophilic outer layer with an ultra-low drag coefficient of .021.
- 80% Polyester, 20% Spandex
- Composite knit fabric offers a form-fit for flexibility and minimal drag
- Design: Swimmers’ Fit design, advanced bonded seam construction
- Unrestricted movement due to less compressive fabric
- Minimized surface drag enhances performance
- Value priced
- Some swimmers may prefer a more compressive fit
- “Best swimskin on the market!!!”
- “It is made for speed, and that is exactly what it does.”
- “For me, wearing swim skin is faster than normal by 4 sec/100m”
- “The sizing chart is misleading.”
Zoot Wikiwiki Speedzoot
The Zoot Wikiwiki Speedzoot’s lightweight, water-repellent fabric and Durable Water Repellent (DWR) technology facilitate swift movement and reduce drag in the water, making it an excellent suit for competitive swimmers.
The Wikiwiki Speedzoot proved to be a good performing swim skin in my view. It offered a good level of performance and was comfortable to wear, even during long swims. While it may not have the high compression of some other swimskins, it certainly holds its own when it comes to speed and comfort.
- Material: Lightweight, water-repellent fabric
- Design: High-performance fabric, DWR technology
- Reduced drag and increased speed due to DWR technology
- The water-repellent properties are evident when swimming
- Feels more comfortable than some others
- Zoot has a unique look that you either love or hate
- Some swimmers may prefer a more compressive fit
- Higher price point
- “Very cool looking”
- “Can confirm, it’s fast”
Synergy Synskin 3
The Synergy Synskin 3 makes an excellent choice for beginners. It offers enhanced hydrodynamics and minimized drag due to its high-quality Italian hydrophobic cloth and moisture-wicking materials, making it a reliable choice for those new to the world of swimskins.
Being a seasoned swimmer, I acknowledge the Synskin 3 as a suitable starting point for novices. It’s not overly compressive, so it’s comfortable for those not used to wearing swimskins, and it offers a good level of performance for its price point.
The Synskin 3 also comes in a sleeveless version (the version I prefer), which is the Synergy Synskin 2.
- Material: High-quality Italian hydrophobic cloth
- Design: Enhanced hydrodynamics, minimized drag
- Reasonable price point
- Created with the lowest legal friction material in the world
- Some advanced swimmers may prefer a more compressive fit
- Limited size options compared to other brands (S, M, L, XL)
- “Fast, easy to take off in transition”
- “Good swimskin, but runs small”
- “Super comfortable and fast”
Sailfish Rebel Pro 3
The Sailfish Rebel Pro 3 swimskin elevates hydrophobic performance. Its lightweight, hydrophobic material, water-repellent coating, and tightly woven fabric result in a Teflon-like effect for exceptional hydrophobicity.
Wearing the Rebel Pro 3 was an experience unlike any other. The hydrophobic performance was noticeably superior to other swimskins I’ve worn, and the reduced drag and increased speed were evident in my swim times.
While it comes at a higher price point, the performance it offers is well worth the investment.
- Material: Four different hydrophobic fabrics, lightweight and water-repellent
- Design: Water-repellent coating, tightly woven fabric
- High-end hydrophobic performance due to Teflon-like effect
- Reduced drag and increased speed due to water-repellent coating
- Higher price point compared to other brands
- Less sizes than other brands (XS, S, M, L, XL)
- “Fits perfectly”
Quintana Roo Hydrospeed
This swimskin provides an excellent balance of comfort and performance. The Hydrospeed swimskin is also available as a sleeveless model, which I prefer.
The Hydrospeed swimskin offers:
- Performance-oriented design
- Snug fit without being restrictive
- Impressive hydrophobic performance
- Makes you feel fast in the water
- Excellent choice for comfort and performance without breaking the bank.
- Material: High-quality Italian hydrophobic cloth. Lycra-free design.
- Design: Purpose-built panel design. Auto-locking, easy strip zipper.
- Affordable price point
- Comfortable fit due to purpose-built panel design
- Available in seven sizes (S, M1, M2, M3, L1, L2, L3)
- It may not offer as much compression as high-end swim skins
- “Unbelievably comfortable, fits like a glove. Would definitely recommend.”
- “Great performance, excellent material, easy to get out of when in T1. Highly recommend.”
- “Super nice material that is very hydrophobic. has a little stretch so the swim skin still fits tight, but doesn’t feel too constrictive.”
This swim skin is a reliable choice for any swimmer, especially when it’s too warm for a wetsuit, making a traditional wetsuit unnecessary and the swim wetsuit legal.
After using the PZ2TX in several races, its features and performance are something I can attest to:
- Reliability: The swimskin has proven to be reliable in multiple races.
- Fit: The fit of the swimskin is excellent.
- Surface drag: The minimized surface drag noticeably enhances speed.
- Price: The swimskin is lower-priced, but the performance it offers makes it worth every penny.
The Blueseventy PZ2TX swimskin features:
- Hydrophobic energy fabric with Teflon coating
- Welded seams
- Minimized surface drag
- Material: Hydrophobic energy fabric with Teflon coating
- Design: Welded seams
- Premium Italian fabric
- All seams are ultra-sonic welded
- Locking zipper
- Lower price point
- Compressive fit, but not a full “supportive” fit like some others
- “I love this swimskin”
- “Very tight. Maybe should have sized up a size.”
So which Swimskin is Best For Me?
Selecting the perfect swimskin can feel overwhelming, given the plethora of options in the market. However, keeping a few key factors in mind can simplify the selection process.
A hydrodynamic design that minimizes hydrodynamic drag can significantly enhance your swimming performance.
When it comes to sizing, ensure a snug fit while maintaining freedom of movement. If you find yourself at the higher end of the size spectrum, it’s advisable to opt for the larger size. Remember, comfort is key, and a swimskin that doesn’t fit right can lead to discomfort and hamper your performance.
Picking the right swimskin often hinges on your individual needs, preferences, and financial plan. Any of the swimskins on this list will help you in your quest to swim faster while looking pro.
From hydrodynamic masters like the Blueseventy PZ4TX to the stylish Zone3 Shortsleeve, there’s a swimskin for every swimmer, regardless of their skill level, preferences, or budget.
Remember to keep your specific needs and budget in mind. Whether you’re a beginner seeking a friendly introduction to the world of swimskins or a seasoned pro looking for top-tier performance, there’s a swimskin out there that’s perfect for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a swimskin and a wetsuit?
A swimskin is thinner and non-buoyant and offers only a little added warmth. A wetsuit is thicker, buoyant, and provides warmth in colder water. Both a swimskin and a wetsuit provide the wearer with reduced water friction and are worn over a race kit and are removed after the swim portion of a triathlon.
Does a swimskin keep you warm?
No, a swimskin does not keep you warm as it is designed for speed in warm water and does not provide buoyancy or warmth like a wetsuit.
What is a triathlon swimskin?
A triathlon swimskin is a one-piece suit worn over a tri-suit in the swim portion of the race to reduce water friction and increase hydrodynamic gains. It is a specific, high-performance garment not meant to be worn alone.
What is the best material for swimskins?
The best material for swimskins is lightweight, non-buoyant material, such as those used in the BlueSeventy PZ4TX, Sailfish Rebel Pro 2, Roka Viper X2, and Quintana Roo Hydrospeed. These are considered ideal for triathlon swimskins and are often sought out by the fastest swimmers.
How does the hydrodynamic design of a swimskin impact performance?
A swimskin with a hydrodynamic design that minimizes drag can greatly improve swimming performance. Water flows over the material without the drag that a standard garment would experience.
Are swimskins worth it?
All swimmers will be more hydrodynamic with a swimskin on. For competitive swimmers who are striving for marginal gains and aiming to shave off fractions of a second from their race times, swimskins can make a noticeable difference, especially in races where every second counts.
How long do swimskins last?
The longevity of swimskins depends on various factors, including the quality of the materials, how well they are cared for, and how frequently they are used. Generally, a high-quality swimskin can last many years with regular use and proper care. However, the fabric may begin to lose its hydrodynamic properties over time, especially when exposed to chlorine.
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