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Swimming retailers finally recognise the diversity and unique challenges of female swimmers.

Being a woman is tough. Many of us have body confidence issues, and nowhere are those issues more tested than by the pool. Magazines go on about ‘beach bodies’ and ‘bikini diets’. Many swimwear retailers don’t cater to our body type, hair type, skin type or religious considerations. It can be hard, for example, to find a two-piece where both the top and bottom that match your size, a one-piece that covers scarring, that doesn’t irritate your skin, or that makes you feel great when you’re on your period.

However, swimsuit manufacturers are slowly cottoning on to our female struggles. Below are three examples of swimming products that are shining a light on women and promoting more inclusivity and confidence!

BURQINI

Muslim women have long been overlooked by activewear retailers. Conservatively clad women would often resort to wearing baggy shirts with leggings at the pool, getting told by lifeguards that loosely layered clothes were unsafe for swimming as they become heavy in the water.

Luckily, since the burqini was invented in the mid-2000s in Australia by Aheda Zanetti, there has been an explosion of modest swimwear pieces on the market. These are great not only for women of orthodox faiths (Muslim, Jewish, Mormon women, etc.) but for anyone who wants total UV protection from the sun’s damaging rays or is self-conscious about their body.

Today’s burqini designs are lightweight, offering complete freedom of movement, while being quick-drying. The suits are generally made of SPF 50+ polyester swimsuit fabric, but you can get some made from heavier neoprene wetsuit fabric. Designs range from figure-hugging to relatively loose-fitting.

If you prefer a sporty look, Nike’s ‘Victory Swim Collection’ or Speedo’s ‘Delight Modest Bodysuit’ have athletic-chic designs. If you like bold, trendy feminine prints, there are tons of brands like Munamer, Lyra, Madame BK or Modanisa to check out.

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AFRO HAIR

Dreadlocks, afros, weaves… black hair is amazing but needs a lot of care! Many black women are put off swimming because afro hair takes a long time to dry and is easily damaged by chlorine and seawater. Many find swim caps too small and too tight. Plus, with a number of swimming pools having a compulsory swim cap policy, it is often just not worth the effort. Luckily, a few companies are making great swimming caps for bulky, high volume hair that will take the headache out of going for a swim!

Today, you’ll be able to find plenty of stretchy, comfortable and durable watertight caps (usually made from thicker-than-normal premium silicone) that go way beyond the standard XL size. The largest ones can accommodate over 25+ inches of hair! These are tight-fitting but not compressing, so they won’t slip back or fall off when you push off from the wall of the pool.

Soul Cap, Swimma, and Lahtak are among a number of brands breaking the mould and making swimming more inclusive. Some of these brands even offer customised caps. Swimma’s founder Nomvuyo Treffers, a photographer by profession, became a momtrepreneur after realising she was being excluded from swimming with her two little girls as no company offered a cap for her thick dreadlocks. The launch of her brand was met with praise and excitement in her native South Africa as it met a basic and widespread problem.

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MATERNITY

Going swimming while pregnant is not only good to keep fit, but the buoyancy of the water is also priceless for feeling weightless when you are at your heaviest! There are plenty more reasons why swimming is the ideal exercise to do while pregnant, e.g. there’s a minimal risk tripping and falling injuries, and your body temperature is kept low (unlike other sports where you can overheat easily).

There are loads of great maternity swimsuits out there with wide adjustable straps, internal shelf bras, wide waistbands and ruching to keep you comfortable and supported as your bump grows.

I hope you found this list interesting and inspirational…and that it reminded you how awesome women are! If you can think of any more great products designed uniquely for women, let us know in the comments. Finally, be sure to check out the women-only swim hour at your local pool!

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