Swimming was done naked for most of human history. Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president, was a frequent bather in the Potomac. Even into the twentieth century, men’s high school and college swim teams would practice naked. Men were supposed to cover themselves outside of all-male organizations. Swimming-specific clothing was first and foremost a modesty garment, and afterward a practical garment.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when men were barred by law and custom from being bare-chested in public, swimsuit rules were the tightest in the United States. One-piece woolen outfits with cropped sleeves and legs were popular. In the 1930s, men staged protests in support of the right to go topless, and many of them were prosecuted for public obscenity.

Swimsuits became more about function and style than modesty after that. Wetsuits, boardshorts, drag suits for training, and other specialty suits began to emerge in the 1960s and beyond, eventually leading to today’s world of wetsuits, boardshorts, and other specialty suits. For amazing men’s swimwear products, check out Daily Jocks now.

Modern Designs

Modern swimsuits can serve both beautiful and practical purposes; in fact, most aim for both. The length and looseness of a swimsuit’s cut are frequently used to classify it.

  • In North America, the most popular men’s swimwear is trunks. They resemble land-based shorts but are constructed of lighter, faster-drying materials (typically nylon or polyester) and have a tighter-fitting lining inside the shorts. Colors and inseam lengths might be rather different.
  • Boardshorts are a longer version of trunks that go up to the knee or even higher. They are frequently cut closer to the body and have a non-elastic waist. Originally created for “board sports” (surfing, paddleboarding, and so on), they were made with less material that could catch on your board when you mounted it.
  • Speedos are a trademarked brand of swim briefs that have been popular for many years. They’re form-fitting swimsuits with a V-shaped front that exposes the thighs. An internal lining is usually found in recreational swim briefs. In Europe, briefs are far more popular than in North America.
  • A body-hugging shape, square-cut shorts envelop the wearer from the waist to the upper thigh. The leg holes are straight across for a more boxy look than angled swim briefs.
  • Elite swimmers and other competitors in water sportswear jammers, which are skintight, knee-length clothing that reduces drag. They have the appearance of cycling shorts, but they lack the padded crotch and seat.
  • Wetsuits and drysuits are insulated suits designed for prolonged immersion, such as when snorkeling, scuba diving, or participating in board sports. They’re really close-fitting.
  • Rash guards are a sort of all-body swimwear that is less restricting than a wetsuit and are often worn by surfers, kayakers, and paddleboarders. The majority are made of UV-reflective fabric with a UPF rating.
  • Swim shirts are an upper-body-only type of rash guard that is becoming increasingly popular among casual swimmers as a sun and surf protection option.