Racing suits and kneeskins are expensive business. Here’s a breakdown of the best racing suits for women and kneeskins, whether you are a breaststroker, aiming for the Olympics, or competing at your first swim meet.
Choosing the best kneeskin and racing suit
You’ve placed a lot of time, energy, sweat and tears into your training. Each day you have gone to the pool and hustle and grinded your way through countless threshold sets, lactate sets, and more meters and yards than you can count. (Probably more than you drive, to be honest.)
Now, it’s time to put all that hard work from practice and put it to the test in competition. With a successful taper behind you, and the bottled nerves causing your stomach to feel like its turning itself inside out, you prep yourself for race day.
Picking out the best racing suit for yourself is part of the process. There are a lot of things to consider when women pick out the kneeskin they take with them into battle.
- Cost: Racing suits are not cheap. Premium kneeskins run upwards of $600. Entry level racing suits are in the $100-150 range.
- Durability: Kneeskins are made up of mostly delicate fabrics that are extremely light, water-repellant, but also not particularly long-lasting.
- Comfort: Some kneeskins are better suited for specific strokes and events.
- Performance: Racing suits promise to boost performance through a combination of compression, hydrodynamic construction, and other drag-reducing features, including bonded seams.
Below is our selection of the best kneeskins and racing swimsuits, broken down by category and stroke.
Speedo Fastkin LZR Pure Intent Kneeskin
- Top pick: Best elite racing swimsuit for women
Speedo Fastskin suits have been at the forefront of the high-performance racing suit pack for decades. Since making a big splash at the Beijing Olympics—with Michael Phelps rocking out the legging version on his way to 8-gold medals—the Fastskin series of suits have continued to evolve.
The latest edition of the Fastskin suits are the “Pure” series (Pure Intent, Pure Valor, and Pure Focus). The Pure Intent is the one that provides the most compression, providing maximal blood flow to your core and legs, giving you that extra buoyancy and energy at the end of races.
“The compression is perfect, and I feel like the suit is really working with my kicks,” says American backstroker Kathleen Baker, a 2-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder. (She’s also sponsored by Speedo, for what it is worth.)
Arena Powerskin Carbon Flex Kneeskin
- Top pick: Best Mid-range racing suit for women
It’s probably no secret that I am a big fan of Arena suits and swim gear. The Powerskin Carbon Flex is a killer mid-range racing suit for women. Compared to many kneeskins, which can leave you feeling stiff and stuffed into the suit, the Carbon Flex balances compression with range of motion.
The Powerskin Carbon Flex Kneeskin is middle of the road when it comes to pricing, usually around $275-300 depending on the seller, but retains the high-performance attributes that you expect from a tech suit.
Available in over a dozen colors and color combinations (including the Adam Peaty-themed lion suit, pictured below), the Carbon Flex is my top pick for mid-range kneeskin.
FINIS Vapor Pro Kneeskin
- Runner up: Best mid-range racing swimsuit
FINIS is one of the more innovative swim gear companies, with their swimmer’s snorkel, Tempo Trainer, and waterproof headphones being extremely popular in the pool. Their racing suits, the Vapor, is a slick looking and highly compressive racing suit that delivers on high-performance comfort and feel.
Made of 27% spandex, 73% nylon, the Vapor is constructed with dual panels along the backside that promotes buoyancy and promises to maintain muscle efficiency. The seams of the suit are welded and bonded so that there is no stitching on the exterior of the suit, and the Vapor Pro Kneeskin comes in black and slate.
Comfortable, fast, and reasonably priced, you cannot ask for much more with the Vapor racing suits.
Arena Powerskin ST 2.0 Kneeskin
- Top pick: Entry-level kneeskin
The Powerskin ST series of swimsuits are my favorites when it comes to affordable, entry-level suits that also provide the benefits you expect from a high-performance suit, including compression and water-repellent fabric.
The Powerskin ST 2.0 Kneeskins cost around $100 (depending on where you live) and is made of 71% polyamide and 29% elastane. The suits are available in over a dozen colors, from your typical full black and aquamarine (pictured below) to a series of color combinations and patterns.
Comfortable, durable (with proper care, obviously), and fast, the Powerskin ST kneeskin delivers as a reasonably priced racing swimsuit for women.
BlueSeventy neroFIT Kneeskin
- Runner up: Entry-level kneeskin
BlueSeventy is a manufacturer of gear for swimmers and open water swimmers. Their racing suits, the neroFITs, take a lot of the same high-performance features of high ticket suits and bundle them up in an affordable, cheaper kneeskin.
While most premium kneeskins run in the range of $400-600, the neroFIT comes in at under $200. Although it has slightly less elastane than elite racing suits (20% of the suit is made with this fast-drying, water-repellant fabric), the suit has fully bonded seams (no stitching, reducing drag), and has silicone grippers on the inside of the legs so that you can climb in and out of the suit more readily.
TYR Venzo Genesis Kneeskin
- Top pick: Best racing swimsuit for Breaststrokers
Let’s just come and say it: there is something unique about breaststrokers. They perform the only stroke in the water where the body comes to a nearly dead-stop in the middle of each stroke cycle. Add the external hip rotation required of breaststroke kicking, and you can see what sets them apart.
Because of the unique leg movement inherent in the breaststroke kick, swimsuit manufacturers need to be able to make a racing suit that provides all the compression and support benefits along with enough range of motion in the hip to allow a breaststroker to kick with full power and range of motion.
The TYR Venzo Genesis tech suits, the latest in the line of the Huntington, California based swim company’s line of racing suits, delivers on this.
With several of the fastest breaststrokers in the world rocking this suit, from American Cody Miller to world record holder Lilly King, the Venzo creates little friction with the construction of the suit and a compression cage that targets the core and quads.
Made of 70% nylon and 30% spandex, the Venzo Genesis Kneeskin crushes it when it comes high-performance breaststrokin’.