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Can you Swim in Workout Shorts?

June 02, 2020

You decide to take a trip to the pool or beach and then you suddenly realize that your old swim trunks went out with the last trip to Goodwill. Now what? Well, you do have a drawer full of workout shorts — what about them? In fact, now that you think about it, why bother buying a bathing suit after all. How different is a swim short going to be, compared to your workout gear shorts?

The fact is, there’s quite a lot that separates a good swimsuit different from your workout shorts. Differences in materials, design, and construction all combine to make the swimsuit a very specialized piece of clothing — one that’s much better suited to the task at hand than your workout shorts. 

Why Swim Suits, Anyway?

In a more innocent time, nobody worried about wearing a swimsuit in the water. But then along came societal norms. By the 1800s, guys suited up in heavy woolen bathing garments when they went to take a dip in the surf. It wasn’t until the 1930s that societal norms and new fabrics created what we consider the modern men’s swimsuit. Now you can take your choice of styles to match your body and activity, from tight-fitting lycra trunks for lap swimming to more modest but super practical and versatile board shorts. 

With so many styles of purpose-made swimsuits, there’s really no reason to stick with workout shorts when you go to the beach or pool. But if you insist, let’s consider a few pitfalls of combining workout shorts with the life aquatic. 

You Can Wear Workout Shorts to Swim (But Why?)

When you get right down to it there’s nothing to stop you from wearing your workout shorts to swim in. But think about it this way — you wouldn’t lace up a pair of hiking boots to run a marathon, or put on a flannel shirt to play a round of golf. Athletic clothes are designed and tailored to provide maximum comfort and performance for the sport you’re participating in. Still not convinced? Consider these issues with workout shorts and swimming. 

  • Workout short fabrics aren’t ideal for swimming. Purpose-built swimsuits are made from porous fabrics that allow water to flow through easily. That’s not usually the case with workout shorts. Wear workout shorts in the pool and you’ll probably find that air gets trapped in the suit, making it act like a balloon in the water. Another issue — if your workout shorts contain any cotton, they’ll soak up water and become increasingly heavy the longer you’re in the water.
  • Colorfastness. A pair of quality workout shorts will hold up fine through trips to the washing machine, but it probably wasn’t designed to handle the demands of a pool full of chlorinated water. Wear your workout shorts in the pool too often and you’ll risk fading and premature wear.  
  • Modesty. A swimsuit is designed to provide, shall we say, concealment of certain body parts when the fabric is wet and clinging to the skin. Your workout shorts probably aren’t. You may be able to work around that fact by wearing form-fitting briefs under your shorts when you head for the water, but that’s just another thing to think about, isn’t it?
  • UV protection. If you’re going to be in the water, you’ll probably be in the sun all day too. Protecting your skin from the amplified effects of sunlight on the water is important, so quality swimwear, like Willy California Board Shorts, use fabrics with built-in UV protection. Your workout shorts probably don’t. 

Why Compromise?

So there you have it. Workout shorts may look a lot like a swimsuit, but they don’t have the DNA inside that makes them perform the same way that a swimsuit does. When you’re getting ready to head to the water, whether it’s for an exotic beach vacation or a trip to the local pool, you should take the time to find a quality piece of swimwear that will fit your needs and look good on you. You won’t get that combination of style and performance from your workout shorts. 

Choose the Right Swimsuit

You choose different athleisure clothes for different activities and different social scenes. And it’s the same with swimwear. Let’s take a moment and look at the most popular types of guys’ suits. 

  • Trunks. Probably the most common style of suit, swimming trunks look a lot like your gym shorts, but are made from specialized fabrics and incorporate liners. You can choose from a variety of inseam lengths to match your build. Longer swimming shorts, cut to knee length, are often referred to as board shorts.   
  • Briefs. Better known as the speedo, they’re a tight and form-fitting garment that shows a lot of skin. Great for lap swimmers and extroverts.   
  • Jammers. Another form-fitting style, with longer leg coverings. Another favorite for lap swimmers. 
  • Square-cut shorts. A nice compromise between baggy trunk-style shorts with a drawstring and form-fitting briefs. Square-cut shorts fit like trunks but are cut short at the top of the thighs so you’ll have more skin exposure without being too revealing. 

When choosing a swimsuit, consider three factors — what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be wearing it, and your body type. Board shorts or trunks are great all-around choices for in and around the water and work with most men’s body types. You’ll be just as at home in them on the sand as you will be sitting at the bar when happy hour rolls around. But if you’re swimming for fitness you’ll want to go for a more streamlined style, like briefs or jammers.   

Make Your Time in the Water Better

The case for the swimsuit is clear. Whether it’s heading to the local beach or public pool or jetting off to enjoy a tropical vacation, you should do yourself the favor of outfitting yourself with the right clothing. Whatever style you choose, you deserve to have a good quality swimsuit. 

Looking for stylish swimwear to compliment your wardrobe? The first step is to go with a brand you trust. Visit Willy California for high-quality athleisure wear.