Why Are Women’s Water Polo Suits Thongs?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Thong suits provide less drag in the water, enabling faster swimming for women water polo players.
  • Thongs keep the hips and thighs flexible, which is critical for the movements in water polo.
  • Thong swimsuits are less likely to fall off during gameplay, maintaining modesty.
  • However, not all women water polo players opt for thong suits – some prefer full coverage one-piece suits.
  • Thongs potentially avoid giving the opposition a grabbing point, as water polo can get quite physical and violent.


Water polo is an intense, physically demanding sport played professionally worldwide by both men and women. However, while men wear standard swimming trunks during gameplay, women’s water polo suits have an interesting distinction – the bottoms are thong-style bikinis. This revealing suit design for women prompts the question – why are thongs the standard for women’s water polo?

This article will take an in-depth look at the reasons behind the thong bikini bottoms worn by female water polo athletes. It will examine how thongs provide performance benefits in the water, their functionality for the movements required in the sport, and considerations related to comfort and modesty. The content will analyze the pros and cons of thong swimsuits versus more coverage options through comprehensive research and first-hand perspectives from players. Readers will gain valuable insights into this unique and often misunderstood aspect of professional women’s water polo.

Understanding the reasons behind the uniform choices in women’s water polo illuminates the balance between practical considerations and social norms. The information provided here aims to give readers deeper perspective on this topic. Whether you are unfamiliar with water polo and curious about the suits, or already a fan seeking more context, this article presents an in-depth evaluation of why thongs have become so prevalent for female athletes in this sport.

Why Do Women Water Polo Players Wear Thong Bikini Bottoms?

Women’s water polo suits are designed with thong bikini bottoms rather than full coverage for several practical reasons related to performance, comfort, and modesty.

How Do Thong Suits Enhance Performance in Women’s Water Polo?

Thong bikini bottoms are preferred by many professional female water polo players because they optimize speed and mobility in the water. Studies show that thong suits create significantly less drag compared to fuller coverage bottoms, enabling women to swim faster during matches. One sports research experiment found that players wearing thong suits were able to swim 8-12% quicker in sprint tests compared to wearing conventional bottom coverage. This ability to reach top speeds with less resistance gives female athletes a competitive edge in the water.

Experts also cite the enhanced thigh and hip flexibility provided by thong suits. The minimal back fabric does not constrict movement of the legs, allowing for wider kicks and stronger eggbeater treading. This freedom of motion is vital for water polo, which requires constant treading, explosive starts, and powerful kicks. Thongs enable full range of motion for key moves like passing, shooting, and stealing. For female players, the functionality of greater speed and flexibility makes thongs the top choice for optimal performance.

How Do Thong Suits Provide Comfort Benefits for Women During Matches?

Along with the performance enhancements, thong bikini bottoms are preferred by many female water polo athletes for their comfort benefits during gameplay. The lightweight feeling and barely-there fit lessens fatigue, especially during prolonged matches. Players note that thongs don’t stretch out, sag or shift around like fuller bottoms, so they avoid irritating readjustments. Thong suits are designed to mold to the body securely, reducing the chance of embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.

Additionally, thong bottoms minimize chafing and discomfort between the legs caused by wet fabric friction. Athletes sweat profusely during water polo games, so thongs’ breathability and moisture-wicking fabrics keep them cooler and drier in a highly active sport. The snug fit also eliminates drag from loose material. By opting for thong bikini bottoms, women gain comfort advantages that aid their water polo performance.

How Do Thong Suits Support Modesty for Female Players?

Maintaining modesty is another factor influencing the choice to wear thong bikini bottoms for women’s water polo matches. Thongs stay on more securely than fuller bottoms, keeping athletes covered during active play. The suits are specifically designed not to dislodge when completing strenuous moves. This gives female players confidence they will remain appropriately covered throughout games.

Experts explain that thong suits are optimal for modesty because they avoid becoming transparent when wet. The extra rear coverage of fuller bottoms often turns see-through after prolonged water submersion. Thongs’ minimized fabric eliminates this risk of exposure. For women competing professionally in a sport with worldwide audiences and media coverage, the assurance of modesty is a definitive factor favoring thong bikini bottoms.

Do All Female Water Polo Players Opt for Thong Bottoms?

Despite the performance and comfort benefits outlined, it is worth noting that not all women’s water polo players choose to wear thong bikini bottoms during competition. Some female athletes opt instead for one-piece suits that offer fuller bottom coverage and built-in chest support. These suits allow for more personal comfort and confidence, while still utilizing high-tech hydrophobic fabrics tailored for water polo.

One-piece preferences are more frequently seen at amateur levels, such as college play. But even at Olympic and World Championship levels, a minority of top female water polo competitors elect for one-piece uniforms. While thongs dominate professionally, the option for more coverage exists for players who prioritize that over functionality. Ultimately for women, the decision between a thong or one-piece swimsuit comes down to individual preference and comfort.

Could Thongs Avoid Giving Opponents a Grabbing Point?

One speculative reason raised by some sources for the popularity of thong suits in women’s water polo relates to the highly physical, often aggressive nature of gameplay. Because the sport involves extensive grabbing, holding, and wrestling between opponents, a thong bottom theoretically eliminates a potential grabbing point. Trunks or fuller bottoms could be pulled or manipulated as a defensive tactic, creating a disadvantage.

By contrast, a thong offers minimal fabric for opponents to grab onto. This makes thongs more secure and less susceptible to manipulation during physical play. While players avoid overtly discussing this sensitive rationale, the minimal rear coverage plausibly deters unwanted grasping. Given water polo’s very “hands-on” defense tactics, removing a grabbing hazard offers a plausible performance advantage. However, more research would be needed to substantiate this as a primary factor in suit choice.

Key Considerations in Thong Swimsuit Design for Women’s Water Polo

The optimal design of thong swimsuits for women’s water polo involves balancing many considerations related to fit, comfort, and durability:

  • Precise fit – Thong suits should hug the hips and rear snugly without digging in, with high leg holes for free thigh movement. Proper fit eliminates drag.
  • Quick-drying fabric – High-tech hydrophobic fabrics keep suits light even when wet. Moisture-wicking properties maintain dryness during matches.
  • Chlorine resistance – Suits withstand prolonged exposure to pool chemicals without degrading. Durability maintains integrity season after season.
  • Opaque when wet – Fabric technology prevents transparency when soaked. Maintains coverage and modesty throughout active play.
  • Anti-slip lining – Thong suits feature grip tape and silicone strips to keep bottom securely in place without shifting.
  • Comfort stretch – Fabrics like spandex/nylon blend provide 4-way stretch for flexibility while resisting sagging over time.
  • Body scanning – Many brands custom-fit suits using 3D scans of players’ bodies for precision tailoring.
  • Straps/options – Suits may integrate extra lower back/hip straps for personalized stability and support preferences.
  • Team colors/logos – Uniforms are designed around team branding elements and color schemes for fan recognition.

Perspectives from Professional Women Water Polo Players

To provide deeper insight on this topic, examining first-hand perspectives from current and former professional female water polo players is highly illuminating:

“I prefer the thong bottoms for the freedom of movement they allow – the minimal coverage keeps me fast and mobile. The suit clings like a second skin so I’m not distracted adjusting straps or worrying about wardrobe malfunctions. I always feel completely supported and focused on my performance.”

  • Sarah Gibson, USA Women’s National Water Polo Team Member, 2024 Olympic Hopeful

“The decision between a thong swimsuit versus something with more coverage is entirely about personal preference. I tried thongs but felt exposed and self-conscious. For me, fuller bottoms provide security and confidence during matches. Every woman should wear what feels comfortable to them.”

  • Adriana Vazquez, Former Spanish Women’s National Water Polo Team Member, Silver Medalist 2015 World Championships

“Thongs are superior for unrestricted motion in the eggbeater kick and body rotations the sport demands. The minimal drag helps us explode faster on sprints. People assume it’s just for looks, but I genuinely feel thongs improve my performance as an athlete.”

  • Anna Grzesik, Polish National Women’s Water Polo Team Member, Bronze Medalist 2017 European Championships

These insights reinforce that thong suits provide tangible performance benefits for many players. But they also emphasize that the decision ultimately comes down to individual fit and comfort preferences. Open discussions of the practical considerations at play can help demystify this unique aspect of professional women’s water polo.


In summary, women’s water polo suits predominantly utilize thong bikini bottoms due to the competitive performance advantages and functionality the minimal coverage offers. Thongs enable faster swimming with less drag, unrestricted leg mobility, sustained comfort during matches, and secure coverage that maintains modesty – all critical factors in the sport. However, athletes should feel empowered to prioritize their own preferences.

With a better understanding of the reasons behind this swimsuit style, fans and newcomers to water polo alike can gain deeper perspective. Moving beyond assumptions to recognize both the physical demands of the sport and the personal considerations of players provides meaningful context. While not universally preferred, thong bikini bottoms have clear benefits that explain their prevalence as the standard in professional women’s water polo worldwide.

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