Drags Suits: When To Wear One
While many brands are competing to supply the best swim tech suits in the industry, on the other end of the spectrum are drag suits. The high-tech, snugly fit racing jammer or kneeskin were created with hydrodynamic principles to make you move efficiently through the water. Meanwhile, drag suits create resistance and – you guessed it – drag.
Drag suits can come in various styles, but the one thing they have all in common is that it’s made of looser fitting fabric – a stark contrast to competition-regulated race suits. With the main goal being to swim the fastest, why would any swimmer want to use a drag suit that clearly slows them down?
Whether you’re a professional or amateur swimmer, you’ll always want to keep bettering yourself and the main way to do that is through training. For more challenging training sessions, swimmers will deploy their drag suits to increase their tolerance to resistance in the water.
For a more detailed breakdown of drag suits, including its pros and cons, read on below.
When to wear one
When you’re looking to do more resistance training, putting on a drag suit will do the trick. Simply put, training with added resistance is harder and this increase in difficulty will make you stronger and faster. Drag suits can also be worn during aerobic sets to increase muscular endurance, as well as increasing the amount of power it takes to pull your body through the water. Competitive swimmers would often use drag suits over their racing suit as a warm-up to their race. Once they’ve taken off the drag suit, they’ll feel an instant boost of speed and power. It would almost feel equivalent to taking off a heavy backpack after a long walk; you’ll immediately feel lighter and able to walk faster. Various studies have proven the effectiveness of wearing drag suits and although they do provide an undeniable source of boosted speed and build force, power and endurance, there are limits to their benefits.
The longer you wear a drag suit, the more likely it is for your stroke distance to decrease. Additionally, wearing a heavy-duty drag suit can also have the side effect of altering your stroke form. One way to counteract this, and still gain the benefit of using a drag suit, is to use it during shorter, higher intensity laps, which allows plenty of rest to maintain the proper technique and form. All in all, drag suits are most beneficial as long as technique is maintained. Don’t let technique fall short during tough sets. Consider wearing a drag suit for a specific training set, rather than the whole practice. By doing this, your body can immediately feel the difference between wearing a drag suit for one set and not wearing one for another.
Drag suits allow you to add resistance without changing your technique. Most swim coaches will recommend the use of them for particular training sets, depending on what you need to prioritize. For instance, drag suits might hinder pace sets, as you’re meant to optimize speeds for long periods of time. A drag suit can hurt your training, rather than improve upon it. As drag suits contain extra material, they will naturally pull your body down in the water. This makes the simple act of swimming and staying afloat much more difficult. However, this forces you to correct yourself and learn to swim on top of the water, which is what you want for certain strokes. The psychological effect can be more powerful than you think. As soon as you take off the drag suit, you’ll feel that instant boost of power. The feeling of shedding off the drag can have a great, positive impact on your performance before a race.
The Best Drag Suits
Now that you’ve been acquainted with the pros and cons of drag suits, it’s ultimately up to your own individual needs on whether you think it will improve your performance. If so, here are some tips on what to look out for when purchasing a drag suit.
With the goal of increasing the resistance you experience in the water, drag suits are made of completely opposite materials to your average swim suit. Drag suits are often made of thick polyester, which is hardly water-repellent. In fact, they do the complete opposite: they soak up water to weigh you down even more. To further increase resistance, they usually have a mesh pattern on the surface. Despite its punishing qualities, drag suits are very durable. Expect to use them for a long time, as they’re resistant to chlorine compared to suits that include spandex or elastane.
Here are the best drag suits according to swimmers:
Square Cut Drag Suit – ArenaCheck Price on Amazon
Made with 100% polyester, these drag shorts are designed for resistance training underwater. The shorts are covered with a mesh fabric to provide a significantly greater drag, making for a challenging swim. It’s PVC-free and chlorine-resistant, which will outlast many intense practice sets. With a low waist fit, the shorts fit comfortably and snuggly around the waist as well.
Ultimate Drag Suit – FINISCheck Price on Amazon
For a convenient drag suit that you can easily slip on during practice, take a look at this one from FINIS. Completely made out of a polyester mesh material, this drag suit is what you are looking for to increase resistance. In the design, there are four additional structured cups to capture water for added drag. Made using durable fabric, it can withstand the damaging effects of harsh pool chemicals and sunlight. It’s also suitable for both men and women to put over their swimsuit.
Square Leg Poly Mesh Training Suit – SpeedoCheck Price on Amazon
Specifically designed for athletes seeking performance and comfort, this drag suit from Speedo checks all the boxes. While a comfortable fit around the waist, the suit falls slightly baggy for drag. For a more secure fit, the suit is designed with a drawstring to adjust to your preferred fit. Choose from six colors, with some having contrasting racing stripes on the sides for extra flair.