Can You Swim in a Sports Bra?

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Sports bras are snug, comfortable, and supportive. So, it will come as no surprise that you want to wear one most of the time. Unfortunately, there are certain situations where a sports bra will not work; one of them is the swimming pool.

Today I answer the question, “Can you swim in a sports bra?”

Can You Swim in a Sports Bra?

Yes, you can swim in a sports bra. However, I don’t recommend it. Sports bras may not fare well in chlorinated swimming pool water. While sports bras can offer incredible support during a strenuous swim session, the high content of chemicals in the pool will shorten the lifespan of your bra and diminish its functionality.

The good news is that there are special performance bras tailored especially for swimming. These soft cup bras are designed for swimming – they come in fabrics that are equipped to withstand the salt and chemical content in the pools and stay comfortable even when wet.

Therefore, if you want to wear an athletic bra while swimming, look for these special bras.

A dark blue racerback sports bra and leggings are worn by a woman seated on a brown couch

Why You Can’t Swim in a Sports Bra?

As amazing as an athletic bra is, it has its limitations when it comes to what it can endure. Therefore, to ensure that you enjoy a pleasant swim, you should stick to a bikini top.

Comparing Sports Bra and Swimwear Features

Style Material Water Effects Dry Time
Sports bra Varies between cotton, polyester, and nylonChlorine and salt water are damagingSlow
Swimwear Mostly nylon and lycraDesigned for chlorine and saltwaterFast

If you need more convincing, here is why a sports bra is not appropriate for swimming:

  • Susceptible to damage: The material used in a performance bra cannot resist the action of chlorine and other chemicals in the water, leading to deterioration.
  • Water absorbent: Most workout bras use padded and molded material, which can absorb a lot of water and become heavy. Thus, the bra will weigh you down and can cause chafing.
  • Rusting: The hooks and clasps used in most bras are made up of metal. When exposed to chemicals and water, the fixtures can become rusty and look unsightly. The rust can also bleed into the fabric and leave a stain.
  • Slow drying: The sports bras are quite breathable yet they cannot dry as quickly as a bikini top. Consequently, you will be stuck with a wet bra for a long time.

While you can wear a sports bra as a top, I don’t recommend wearing one as a swimsuit.

Which Sports Bras Can Work as Swimwear?

While I did say that sports bras are not suitable swimwear, there are a few key features that can convert the sports bra into a swim top. Therefore, if you feel inclined to dive into the pool in your beloved athletic bra, check if it has the following features:

  • Suitable Material
  • Strap Formation
  • Non-metallic Fixtures
  • Dark Colors
Graphic image of a blue bra that explains that sports bras should have wide straps and moisture wicking material

Suitable Material

The best fabric to swim in is light or thin. This characteristic makes it quick-drying and decreases the probability of absorbing too much water. 

It is even better if the bra is made up of approximately 70% polyester. Polyester is extremely sturdy and high-resistant. It does not shrink under water or lose its shape like other fabrics.

Most importantly, avoid bras with more than 20% cotton, as it is among the most absorbent fabrics. It can also shrink when exposed to moisture.

Perfect Strap Formation

If your performance bra has straps that go over your shoulder blades like a typical bra, it will not provide the stability you need while swimming. This is because the arms’ swing motion can cause the straps to fall off your shoulders.

A gray sports bra with a camouflage design and black leggings are worn by a woman standing near a white wall

The best option is to opt for a sports bra with a racerback style or straps in a criss-cross pattern at the back. These straps will stay in place, keep the bra cups steady, and ensure that your breasts do not experience too much movement.

Non-Metallic/Low Rust Fixtures

Most hooks and zippers on a bra are made up of metal since it is strong and durable. However, metal can degrade or rust quickly when exposed to water.

If you want to wear the workout bra while swimming, the fixtures must be made from low rust material or plastic or coated with a water-resistant substance.

Dark Color

While the color of the bra is subjective to your preference, it is worth a mention and one of the factors to consider.

White or light-colored bras can become see-through when they become wet. Thus, it is better to try it beforehand, splash some water, and see if it becomes transparent.

Related Questions

Can I Wear a Bra as a Swimsuit?

You can typically wear a bra as a swimsuit, although it may not withstand the effects of salty ocean water or chlorinated swimming pool water. It will be damaged beyond repair since it is not designed to be used underwater.

Can You Swim in the Ocean With a Sports Bra?

Unlike normal bras, sports bras are unsuitable for swimming in the ocean since the water is far saltier than your sweat. Moreover, they may feel uncomfortable once they absorb the water, leading to an unsatisfactory swimming experience.

Will Swimming Ruin the Hooks of My Sports Bra?

If your sports bra has a hook-and-eye closure, the clasp may rust quickly. Some clasps don’t have great resistance to rusting, affecting how the sports bra will fit you.

What Is a Sports Bra? (And How To Pick One For Various Activities)


Sports bras are not ideal for swimming as the material can deteriorate quickly underwater. Moreover, the padded cup will soak the moisture, the metallic hooks will get rusted, and it will stretch out and lower the lifespan of your bra. Finally, the workout bra will not dry as quickly as a swimsuit and feel uncomfortable for longer.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.