Competitive swimmers invest a lot into their sport. There are the endless number of two-a-days, the very early morning swim practices, the long weekends at competitions, and the sweat, blood and tears that come with training 6-days a week, 50 weeks a year.

The investment isn’t just in time and sweat equity, however. For competitive swimmers, particularly those with designs on swimming at the elite level, there is the hefty cost of competitive swimmer.

For women the cost of technical suits is particularly expensive. While most men’s tech jammers cost around $300, a women’s tech suit can cost as much as $600 USD. Which, when you consider that the suits only really last for a dozen or so wears, is profoundly expensive.

Here is what you can do to help make your women’s tech suit last a little bit longer.

1. Rinse with cold water after use. The temptation to wash your fancy new tech suit with soap and shampoo in the shower after your swim is understandable. You’ve finished up with your session at the meet, and now it’s shower and change time. To make the most of the lifespan of your suit make sure you only wash it with cold water after you are done for the day. The chemicals in the soap and shampoo will degrade the suit. Rinsing it with cool water in the sink (or in the shower) will help get the chlorine and whatever other chemicals are used to treat your suit.

2. Don’t put it in the dryer. Ever. The biggest mistake swimmers make when caring for their racing suits is putting these fragile suits in the dryer. While the suit might come out nice and toasty, it will also come out disfigured. The suits are specially designed (quite literally, by space scientists) to be water repellant, and more importantly compressive. Putting it in the dryer will disfigure the compressive panels within the suit, leaving you with a suit that is damaged and will stretch easily.

3. Put it on carefully. In a perfect world you will have plenty of time to put on your racing suit before competing. This means having 10-20 minutes to slowly slide and inch your way into the suit. Use the rubber grip strips that line the inside of the suit, and avoid using your nails to pull on the fabric. Another little sneaky hack to help your body glide into the suit is to line the inside of your legs with a plastic bag—it will help the suit “slide” over your skin. Once the suit is on you just pull the plastic bag out from the bottom of the trunks.

 

4. Insure a proper fit. In going over the instructions from one particular swimsuit manufacturer they advised that you should have 40ish minutes available to you to put the suit on. That is way too long. Besides the obvious time problem, spending that long wrestling into a swim suit before your biggest race of the year will just leave you winded and tired. Odds are good if the suit is so tight that it requires that long to squeeze into that the suit will also not be fitted properly. While the compressive elements of a women’s techical suit is very important—and one of the main benefits of the suits—it shouldn’t compromise range of motion in the process.