Lycra vs. Polyster / Chlorine-Resistant Swimsuits

JenAJenA Charter Member
edited August 2014 in General Discussion
My last experience with a chlorine-resistant suit involved a tremendous amount of chafing (straps, biceps, etc.) and a never-ending sense of it not fitting properly -- both leading to unhappiness for marathon swimmers. Fabrics may have improved since 1996, however. :-)

Which suit do you use?


  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I'm phasing out my long-life poly suits because they're a huge struggle to get on and they feel like they're made of woven cast iron. Now I mostly use the very cheapest suits ($20), though they don't last long
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Is this a female-only thread? I love my poly suits. The stitching breaks before the fabric does!
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    Do they feel as good as lyrca/spandex, evmo? (Fit, stretch, softness, chafing?)
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2012
    I think so, yes? Maybe I'm not too picky in this domain. I haven't worn lycra since the early '90s... then in HS I switched to nylon water polo suits for everyday use. The Speedo Endurance line has been a revelation. Re: chafing, I've only experienced it wearing briefs in multi-hour saltwater swims... problem solved either by wearing jammers or lubing the inner thigh & ass-crack. Sorry if TMI :)
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Actually I've never chafed in speedo endurance, but recently my shoulders are so sore even putting on a non-stretchy suit feels awful so I'm retiring them.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    evmo wrote:
    Is this a female-only thread? I love my poly suits. The stitching breaks before the fabric does!
    I think it is. Guys have it easy in this regard.

    It's impossible to make a suit that properly fits a woman without zippers, fasteners, or Lycra. A poly suit feels like a prison.
  • My longish (for me) swims have all been done in Speedo Endurance, possibly under the theory that the poly latticework will keep out the cold better and hold me up when I start to lapse. They chafe. They do feel like iron cages.
    For what it's worth, I buy suits on eBay ("New with Tags") from a shop that seems to take Speedo and Tyr overstock, all about $35 (shipping incl.).
  • rxleakemrxleakem Southwestern Vermont, USAMember
    Maybe there is a difference in regards to guys or gals suits. I bought a lycra and poly suit (both jammers) when I started a swimming seriously again three years ago. I like the poly suit because it is a bit more rigid and holds shape better. The lycra suit has lost shape and moves up my thighs when swimming, so I am always pushing it back down.


  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    I've done 4 swims (Catalina, MIMS, EC, and Tampa Bay) in a Speedo Endurance+ swim suit. The only time I've ever had any issues was at Tampa Bay, and I think I just used a suit that wasn't broken in very well yet. I used the exact same suit 4 months later for my EC crossing (and I wore it for most of my 60,000 meters/week between the two swims). I never chafe during training swims and am still amazed that I can buy one suit and use it for over 6 months in pools, open water, and even after a marathon swim. I had to throw my Catalina suit away only because I was bored with it and not because there was anything wrong with it. My local swim store stopped carrying Speedos. When I complained to the store about them not selling the Endurance+ any more, they tried to sell me a TYR something or other poly suit. I tried it...and it sucked. So, now I buy online from Amazon. The Endurance + suits do seem to fit a little smaller, so I just buy up a size.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    evmo wrote:
    Is this a female-only thread? I love my poly suits. The stitching breaks before the fabric does!

    Love the endurance suits. Now... if speedo would offer a restitching service, I may never have to buy another suit in this lifetime.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • SuirThingSuirThing Carrick-on-Suir, IrelandMember
    Very happy with my endurance jammers. Had previously tried adidas infinitex(?) but they didn't hold their shape at all considering the price of them.

    I tried to convince myself, but, orange flavour electrolyte, mixed with hot chocolate,
    tastes nothing like Terry's Chocolate Orange ....

  • Mike_GemelliMike_Gemelli Rutherford, NJMember
    Speedo endurance jammers are great...I concur that the stitching expired on my suits before the fabric, but only after 5 years!

    Lately I've been wearing sporti nylon briefs from swim . They've been great in the pool for the last 8 months(60 min workouts), but I've experienced chafing in the crotch on ocean swims lasting longer than 90 minutes.
  • marlinmarlin Member
    I like Tyr products for training: Jammers and "racers".

    I am happy with Durafast suits for training but haven't yet tried their Durafast Elite.
    From what i can tell the only difference is that the new Tyr Elite suits have spandex mixed in with the Polyester).

    I've raced OW in a Tyr Lycra/Nylon Jammer (2.4 mi) - One problem I had was that by the end, the legs starting to stretch below the knees which was uncomfortable to the point that I had to yank them back up a couple of times during the swim.

    I don't seem to have this problem with Durafast, at least in the pool.

    My plan is to try racing in a Durafast Elite suit - hoping that the spandex blend will help eliminate chafing.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    I'll vote for Lycra every time. Poly suits feel like they mean to saw through my collar bone and are generally really uncomfortable.

    I've been using TYR products (goggles & suits) for the past 20 years and I've noticed a definite decline in quality in the last few years. The extra-life Lycra doesn't last as long as the old kind used to (6 weeks vs.3 months), the straps on the poly suits stretch out/come loose within 3-6 weeks and the anti-fog coating on the goggles bubbles up and melts within the first 10 uses now. It's a bummer because I like the fit of both.

    I like Agonswim Streamline kneeskins for racing, although they seem to stretch lengthwise with a few uses. I had to shorten the straps on the one I used last year. I wish they came with skinny straps, as the thicker straps tend to chafe. The Streamline is really nice, slick fabric and they come in thousands of crazy colors/designs. They make each suit to order, so it can take several weeks to get one but I've found them to be worth the wait and it's a very fast suit for less than $100.

    I get my training suits on ebay (NWT) or Sierra Trading Post. I've been averaging less than $20/suit by buying them when I can find them rather than waiting until I really need one. At the rate I blow through suits, I can't afford much more than that.

    I'll note that I define a suit as worn out when it becomes baggy, the straps stretch enough that it drags air/water and I have to pull it up every 50m. Some of the guys I train with will wear their suits until they are totally embarrassing to look at. They know what I mean when I say "you deserve a new suit".

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • marlinmarlin Member
    edited July 2014
    I too have found that the Tyr Lycra Jammers wear out fast and in the unseemly ways you describe - eventually becoming threadbare and nearly transparent! It happens sort of suddenly at the end so yes, it's good to have a replacement on standby.

    I was recently reading Lynne Cox's book on open water swimming. She describes her approach for avoiding chafing and rashes while training in OW. Basically her mom (when she was younger) made an elastic strap for her suit, so she could take off the shoulders while swimming, yet the suit would stay on. She would put back on the straps before returning to shore.

    Now there's also Durafast Lite by the way, which has a bit more Lycra % than Durafast Elite.
  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNSenior Member
    My dad noticed the chafe marks on my shoulders/clavicles from the Key West race and mentioned that I should make some silk covers to put over the straps in that area the next time I have a long swim. Interesting thought. It might just work.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    If you call up your swimsuit's manufacturer, and explain that their product caused you injury, they take it very seriously and file a report. There may be some sort of legal obligation for them to do so.

    If we all did that every time we chafed, we would probably see more options in swimwear. :-)
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    edited July 2014
    For ocean swims in particular, it's gotta be all lycra for me, or I will not be a happy camper. For pool and lake, sometimes I can get away with suits that have the longer life poly stuff in the fabric, but even that can get dicey if the swim is long enough.

    When I did my first Boston Light Swim back in 2006, before I had even the remotest clue what I'd actually gotten myself into, I wore the same poly suit I'd been wearing in the pool all spring. By mile 6, I was bleeding quite freely from the gouges the suit had dug into both shoulders and I was so uncomfortable, I just pulled the suit down around my waist and carried on, much to the leering glee of my crew. Only downside of that option is that after 2 miles of that, the added drag and the constant pendulum motion of "the girls" was nearly as uncomfortable as the suit strap sores.

    Lesson learned, cheap $20 lycra suits acquired. And a lot of Vaseline and zinc oxide applied to known chafe points from then on out. I still have problems with it from time to time, but life is generally better in lycra.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    Now that's a comment that belongs on a t-shirt!

    " is generally better in lycra."

    Either people will get it, or not.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • marlinmarlin Member
    Lynne Cox, in her book, talks about sewing in fabric to her suits to try to alleviate chafing. Apparently was not the ultimate solution though - it helped, but not completely.
    She highly recommends Aquaphor.

  • On a blog I was reading recently, someone suggested for women to wear a worn out lycra suit under their Durafast suit to protect against strap chafing.

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