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Can You Swim In Cycling Shorts?

Can you Swim in Cycling Shorts?

Can You Wear Bike Shorts Swimming?

Cycling and swimming are two distinct sports that usually do not intertwine. An exception to that would be triathlons. 

A triathlon is a multi-sport race with three segments, with most common triathlons including swimming, cycling, and running.

But with athletes trying different methods to reduce their times, one might question “Can you swim in what you cycle in?”

What Do People Usually Cycle In? Can You Also Swim In It?

Cycling Shorts

The main purpose of cycling or bike shorts is to provide comfort while riding a bike. Bike shorts are designed to ensure that the lining stays in the right places. The seams are strategically positioned to reduce friction, especially on routes longer than 16 km or 10 miles.

Cycling shorts also use soft and tight materials to reduce air resistance and allow a wide range of bike movements. High-quality cycling shorts use complex and technical sports materials that increase breathability, reduce heat absorption, and block the sun’s rays.

But should you swim in them? No!

Problems With See-Through Bike Shorts

The materials used are tiny to allow air in when cycling and to avoid friction, but standard cycling shorts will absorb water very quickly and cause chafing, in addition to being transparent.

Chamois Padded Bike Shorts

Some bike shorts come with a chamois. The chamois is a padded part covering the groin area of the bike shorts, with its filling being made of foam of different densities. Its design aims to reduce pressure in the lower regions and provide anti-friction fabric where you need it most.

There is a slight variance between the chamois for men and women. Because men and women have different pressure points, the chamois in padded bike shorts have different densities of foam.

The chamois always prioritizes the comfort of its wearer on a bike. When it comes to swimming, however, they will slow the athlete down and provide discomfort as they soak up water.

Cycling Shorts with Underwear

You should never wear underwear underneath your cycling shorts. There are several important reasons for this:

  • Underwear will cause friction that the chamois is supposed to prevent
  • Chamois is designed to stop harmful bacteria, but underwear will not
  • Underwear will cause friction, heat, and humidity which will lead to saddle friction sores

Needless to say, you should not swim or cycle in both cycling shorts and underwear.

Tri Shorts/ Triathlon Shorts

Tri shorts are similar to cycling shorts but are shorter, less bulky, and provide just enough absorption. Usually, the chamois inside a pair of tri shorts is thinner and smaller, making the groin more comfortable.

Because tri shorts are designed for triathlons, they are ideal for swimming in.

Can you wear bike shorts triathlon swimming Image: “12019 / 10259 images” / Pixabay

Conclusion – Can you Wear Cycling Shorts while Running or Swimming?

It’s not recommended.

If you’re interested in a triathlon, it would be better to wear tri shorts that are designed to have an equal balance of comfort for sport in the race.

Unsure of what to look for in tri shorts? We recommend the following video to find out what qualities you’re going to be needing for race day (Credit to TriathlonWetsuits):

But when it comes to cycling shorts, only swim in them if comfort is the last thing on your mind.