Can You Wear A Sports Bra As A Swimsuit Top?

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Written by Penny Cooper

It’s not something I automatically pack when going on vacation. And, for me, buying a new sports bra is a lot more fun than searching for suitable swimsuits. Can I forget about the swimming cossie and wear a sports bra as a swimsuit instead?

Can You Wear a Sports Bra for Swimming?

Let’s face it the purpose of a sports bra and a bikini top are the same aren’t they? They both serve to support and secure the breasts.

In my hours of research on the subject – yes I know, it’s sad.

Yes, you can wear a sports bra for swimming but there are also a few things to be wary of like the type of material, the effect of the moisture and chlorine on the garment and the metal parts.

Some of these and more hadn’t occurred to me, initially.

Suitable fabrics for a swimming sports bra

A sports bra suitable for swimming should be composed of the right material.

Sports bikinis need to be at least 70% polyester which is more resistant to chlorine, saltwater, shrinking, stretching, wrinkling, and rubbing. It also retains its shape well which is great for outdoor clothing like sports bras/ bikini tops.

If you intend to wear a sports bra for swimming, especially in a pool, it would be a good idea to hand wash the item with fresh water after use and let it dry naturally.

This should help the sports bras last longer and maintain their color.

If you don’t get on with polyester, look out for a more swimwear fabric mix like nylon and spandex (or Lycra) in the garment.

Sports bra Swimwear

Sports bras and moisture

Sports bras are designed to wick away excess sweat. That is, the moisture moves through the material to the surface where it evaporates.

However, it can’t move a ton of sea or swimming pool water and so moisture will overwhelm the material.

Avoid sports bras that are too heavily padded. It’s bad news if you are going to be doing some sort of activity after being in the water. Any padding, especially in the cups will retain the water and be heavy and uncomfortable.

A definite no-no for triathletes.

Avoid rusty metals in a sports bra swimsuit

It may seem a small thing but look out for hooks and clasps that are coated. Any bare metal will rust quickly and will cause discomfort or worse, a wardrobe malfunction.

Straps for a sports bra you can swim in

The sports bra top used for swimming would be best if it had robust ‘low rust’ metals.

Because of the nature of swimming with all the necessary arm movements, it might be best to consider a racerback or similar sports ara design as the straps won’t get in the way.

Pros and Cons of Swimming in a Sports Bra


  • Excellent support, with swimming requiring a lot of arm and upper body movement.
  • A well-fitted sports bra is the perfect choice for the larger-breasted lady. They need more support than those small triangular nipple covers.
  • Sports bras are designed for maximum comfort.
  • Good for duathletes and triathletes.


  • Normal swimsuits dry quicker compared to sports bras.
  • Sports bras are designed to restrict. They are designed to support and protect whilst performing high-impact activities on terra firma.
  • The sports bra may not last as long if continually immersed in chlorine-filled pools.

Swimsuits As Sports Bras

Used for predominantly dry or wet activities your sports bra swimsuit (or swimsuit sports bra) should afford the same benefits. A supportive top, comfortable and suitable for both swimming and other physical activities.

The sports bra should be made from material that won’t easily degrade.

Fortunately, a few years ago designers came up with the hybrid sports bra/swimsuit top or active bikini tops that may also come with bottoms, normally shorts.

Final Word

The good news is that there is a greater choice of swimsuits that can be used as sportswear and versa visa.  Seawater and chlorine-safe materials. And more support options for the activities chosen after a swim.

When choosing sportswear, consider the crossover activities you will most likely be involved with. So swimming and running might be different from swimming and yoga. It depends on the sweat meter. 🙂

And whichever multiple events you participate in avoid flesh spillage. Make sure your hybrid swim/sportswear supports and covers what you need it to cover whatever the activity.

If you’re wondering why you should wear such a supportive bra at all then check out our article on the benefits of sports bras when exercising.

You might also like tank top with a built-in bra, and bras for mature women.

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Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. She gained a BA in English at Edinburgh University. Redundancy from retail management hastened a move to helping people get fit and writing about all things fitness in middle age.

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