- If you like to stay active at the pool or beach, a functional swimsuit is a necessity.
- Our top pick is Athleta’s swimwear, but we also love swimsuits from Patagonia, Sweaty Betty, Land’s End, and Speedo.
While itty-bitty bikinis and strapless one-pieces look great, they aren’t exactly the most practical swimsuits, especially when you like to stay active at the beach or pool. In the past, finding an option that’s not only stylish but also handles more than just lounging in the sun has been problematic.
Thankfully swim designers have started to tap into the athleisure market and are now producing flattering performance pieces that allow you to look chic and stay active. The latest swimwear features activewear technology like compression fabrics, moisture-wicking materials, and UPF protection. New swimsuit designs will actually let you show off your athletic abilities.
Whether you are looking for a sleek rash guard to catch some waves in, a one-piece that won’t budge as you swim laps, or even a bikini that stays in place while you partake in some beach volleyball, these swimwear options will ensure you never have to sit out on a seaside sweat session again.
Here are the best active swimsuits you can buy:
- Best active swimsuits overall: Athleta Swimwear
- Best eco-friendly swimsuits: Patagonia Swimwear
- Best active bikini swimsuits: Sweaty Betty Bikinis
- Best rash guards: Lands’ End’s Swim Tee Rash Guard
- Best active swimsuit for athletes: Speedo’s Pro LT Super Pro One-Piece
Updated on 08/23/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and copy. Removed out-of-stock options. Added Patagonia based on testing.
The best active swimsuit overall
In the market for a swimsuit that is not only comfortable and stylish but also is designed for being active? Try Athleta’s swimwear.
Athleta is known for producing high-quality workout gear that is equal parts functional and stylish. The company also has a line of excellent active swimsuits that look as good as they feel whether you’re swimming, playing beach volleyball, or turning cartwheels on the shore.
The swimsuits range from functional bikinis to tankinis and one-piece suits that offer more coverage. Around 85% of Athleta’s new swimwear collection is made from sustainable materials like recycled nylon. Many of the suits also have UPF sun protection, which protects the fabric from the sun’s rays.
A few women on our team reviewed Athleta’s swimwear, and we were impressed by the range of comfortable and attractive styles. The swimsuits fit true to size and fit comfortably without digging in or pinching. They also dry quickly so you’re not stuck walking around in a soggy wet suit for hours after you leave the water.
Athleta’s swimwear is perfect for water sports including swimming, surfing, and paddle-boarding, thanks to the stretchy, breathable fabric that moves with you.
In terms of price, Athleta’s swimwear is in the middle: Bikini tops cost $49-$79, bottoms $49-$69, and one-pieces $98-$128. Athleta has a wide range of styles, colors, and patterns, so there should be a suitable option for everyone. – Malarie Gokey
Pros: UPF 50+, ultra-resilient fabric, supportive, breathable suit, moves with you, multiple colors and sizes to choose from, ecofriendly materials
Cons: A bit pricey
The best eco-friendly swimsuit
Patagonia’s swimsuits are Fair Trade Certified-sewn from recycled materials, they look great, and they stay in place whether you’re surfing or swimming.
Patagonia new line of women’s swimwear lives up to the brand’s reputation for making excellent outdoor gear. The swimsuits range from rash guards and long-sleeved one-pieces to bikinis, tankinis, and board shorts.
Regardless of which style you choose, you’re getting a high-quality suit that will stay in place while you’re surfing, swimming, and doing other aquatic activities. My colleagues and I recently tried out Patagonia’s new swimwear collection, and we loved it.
We were all impressed by how comfortable the suits were and how well they stayed in place. Women’s swimsuits are often designed more for style than substance, so Patagonia’s collection stood out as a great choice for women who like to actually move around in the water in their swimsuits.
All the swimsuits are made of recycled nylon or polyester that has UPF sun protection and is non-slip. Patagonia also states that these suits are Fair Trade Certified-sewn, so you know you’re buying eco-friendly, ethical swimwear.
The range of colors and patterns is limited, but the selection is unique. For example, my one-piece had parrots on it. Sizes run from XS to XL, so sizing is a bit limited, too. The other main downside here is price: The suits cost $120 to $180, depending on which one you choose. – Malarie Gokey
Pros: Attractive suits, stay in place when active, UPF sun protection, Fair Trade Certified, recycled materials, comfortable, good variety of styles
Cons: Expensive, limited colors and sizes
The best active bikini
- Sweaty Betty
If you’re looking for a stylish bikini that will stay put as you move around, try Sweaty Betty’s Offshore Training Bikini Top and Bottoms.
One-pieces not your thing? Opt for Sweaty Betty’s Offshore Training Bikini Top and Offshore Training Bikini Bottoms instead. This sleek and stylish bikini is made with chlorine-resistant fabric that will keep it looking brand new, no matter how many dips you take in the pool.
Both pieces feature UV protection 50+ to protect your skin and the fabric, as well as quick drying properties to help avoid chafing. The sporty top is fully lined and features thick crossover straps to keep it in place. It also has mesh paneling for extra breathability and removable pads.
The best part? The bottoms are reversible, so you’re getting two suits for the price of one. Currently, 100% of reviewers on the Sweaty Betty’s website recommend the bikini with one buyer saying, “Tried this for a run-swim-run workout. The structure and fit can handle the activity, and it’s stylish enough to be your leisure suit too.”
A few shoppers did note the top can be tricky to get on and off because of its snug fit, but most said it’s worth the struggle. Sizes on both pieces range from XS-XL.
If you’re not sold on this bikini, Sweaty Betty has many more excellent styles for women who want to do more than lounge around at the beach.
Pros: Chlorine-resistant fabric, UPF 50+, fully lined, mesh paneling, reversible bottoms
Cons: Tricky to get top on and off
The best professional-grade swimsuit
If you practically live in the water and need a professional-grade swimsuit, opt for Speedo’s Pro LT Super Pro One-Piece.
There’s a reason why Speedo has been a go-to source for professional swimmers for years. The brand makes high-quality, durable swimwear that offers both support and comfort.
Speedo’s Pro LT Super Pro One-Piece is a compression swimsuit built for improved performance and faster recovery time. The quick-drying suit features wide straps for added support and durability, while the smooth and soft fabric is chlorine-resistant.
One shopper named Ann said, “This may be my favorite suit for swimming laps. The fit is snug, the straps are thick so they don’t roll or shift and the bottom is cut so that it allows for free leg movement but doesn’t ride up. The fabric is relatively thick compared to some other suits which allow the suit to fit like a comfortable glove, but it also means there is less stretch or “give” so it is less forgiving when it comes to sizing.”
A few reviewers did complain that the suit runs small, but others pointed out this is normal for competitive swimsuits. Just be sure to read the sizing chart first to determine which size is right for you. Many buyers recommend going up two sizes.
Speedo has lots of other great one-piece and two-piece swimsuits available, so if you don’t love this one, you can check out many more on Dick’s Sporting Goods’ website.
Pros: Professional suit, compression fabric, chlorine-resistant, very supportive, durable
Cons: Runs small
The best rash guard
- Land’s End
Need added overage and protection as you surf some waves? Try the Lands’ End Swim Tee Rash Guard.
Land’s End has been synonymous with outdoor wear for decades, and it shows in the Swim Tee Rash Guard. The swim top may look like a cover-up but the soft swim tee is built to go in the water with you.
Designed to wear over your swimsuit, the lightweight rash guard offers UPF 50 sun blocking and is made with extra stretch to allow you to move around during your water activities. It is also made with moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dry and comfy when on land.
The rash guard has a 4.6-star rating on the Land’s End’s website with more than 600 reviews. One shopper named Janice is a fan saying, “This was my first swim tee and I love it. I was concerned that it would interfere with my lap swimming but it doesn’t. It protects me from getting too much sun while I am in the water.”
You can choose from five colors, and the rash guard comes in a range of sizes including regular, plus, petite, long, and long plus. If you’re looking for a swimsuit to wear under the rashguard, Land’s End has lots of great swimsuits as well.
Pros: Affordable, lightweight, UPF 50, stretch so it moves with you, moisture-wicking
Cons: Still have to wear a swimsuit under it