Swimwear That Performs: Best Active Swimsuits

OK, I admit. One of the best things about summer is lounging around by the pool or on the beach. I don’t know about you but I can only do that for so long, especially since there are so many fun and active things to do in the water – surf, swim, paddleboard, SUP yoga. 

Just like we need our fitness gear to perform on dry land, we also need our swimwear to perform in the water. The last thing that you want is a wardrobe malfunction or a bathing suit with uncomfortable padding that bunches up or chafes. Thank goodness there is a whole new crop of active swimwear on the market that are made for women who move – whether it’s in the water or running around on the beach.

Best Active Swimsuits

Here are a couple of things to look for when buying active swimwear, especially for intense activities like surfing. You want your swimsuit to stay put and not move around when you’re paddling, turtle rolling or catching a wave.

Customizable fit

Find a suit that is highly adjustable – ideally both the top and the bottom. I have several bikinis that I can customize the fit of the top and cinch the straps down pretty tightly to create a secure fit. I can also adjust the straps so that they are comfortable around my neck and shoulders (I prefer a cross-back style). You also want the bottoms to fit snuggly so that they won’t fall off in the water. Many suit have adjustable ties on the side that you can tighten.

Snug Fit

For the longest time, I would opt for a larger size suit because then it wouldn’t hug my body too tightly and I thought that this would minimize any curves and lumps and bumps. However, once I got into the water, this tendency to size up didn’t help. I learned that if I wanted to be active in the water, I needed a suit that fit properly and fit snuggly.

Pay attention to the material

Not all swimwear material is created equal. You don’t want material (or fillers) that is going to stretch out in the water and leave you looking saggy.

Here are seven great swimwear companies to check out:

1. Calavera

Calavera Kim Saigh Bikini

My Calavera suits are probably some of my favorites. They are cute, stylish and they stay put. They are highly adjustable, don’t stretch out and perform well while surfing. Read my review here.


2. Mi Ola

Mi Ola bikinis

My Mi Ola suit is another favorite and is great for surfing. The material is super comfortable and doesn’t chafe. The suit is highly adjustable and looks great on. I’ve shared a bit about the story behind Mi Ola and they are a great company.


3. Desi’s Bikini Boutique 

 Desi's Bikini Boutique

Desi’s was the first surf bikini that I purchased and I bought it on my first trip to surf camp in Costa Rica. It was the first time that I realized that there was a huge difference between swimwear that’s made to perform and those that aren’t. Made by a Costa Rican designer, many of the suits are reversible so you actually get two suits in one. Like Calavera and Mi Ola, you can customize the fit of the suit and it stays put.


4. Athleta

Athleta swimwear

Athleta’s swimwear line has come a long way and are designed to help you be active. The cuts and prints of the suits are more on-trend. Plus, you can beat Athleta’s Give-It-A-Workout Guarantee – work out in the gear and if it doesn’t perform, return it.


5. Oiselle 

I have to admit that I’m dying to get my hands on Oiselle’s new swimwear. Oiselle makes some of my favorite running gear and I can only imagine who that translates to their swimwear line. The suits are adorable and not just because Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman are modeling them.


6. Sensi

Sensi bikini Sicily top

Sensi Bikinis was created by a professional kite boarder so you know that these suits will perform well under serious conditions. It draws on similar construction as sports bras and avoids hardware and the need for knots to ensure a comfortable fit.


7. UnderArmour Women

UnderArmour Women

I have to admit, UnderArmour Women’s line is really growing on me. They are starting to offer more swim and surf products. This suit is super cute (love the color and the laser cut-outs on the top). With adjustable cross-back straps, it’s designed to keep up with your active pursuits.



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