Can You Swim In Running Shorts?

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Running shorts come in different shapes and designs. Some are about three inches, some aren’t – maybe the fact that your running shorts are quite skimpy has got you asking “Can I swim in running shorts?”

Well, the answer is a capital YES, you can swim in running shorts, but that’s if the fabric used in making the running short is made of spandex or Lycra material. Spandex or Lycra material are known to dry quickly and are usually very lightweight which is one of the factors that come into consideration when selecting a swim short.

Below are some characteristics of a swim short; if your running short fits the description I made in the second paragraph, and also has at least two of the characteristics I will be explaining shortly, then you are good to go.

Characteristics of swim shorts


One of the first things you are likely to note about swim shorts is how light they can be to the feel. Swim shorts are designed to be lightweight because of the freedom such weight gives the body when immersed in a pool of water.

This lightweight is made possible thanks to the material fabric used in the design – Spandex, and Lycra. Spandex and Lycra are known to give the material a certain level of flexibility that makes it stretchy and dry quicker, especially when compared to the cotton used to make regular running shorts.


Most swim shorts are made with netting, while most running shorts are made with linen. Although, many swimmers aren’t a fan of the netting in swim shorts – me inclusive – the netting is there to provide the male genital with the required support underwater.

The netting also helps to dispel bubbles that form underneath once we get immersed in water, thereby, preventing our shorts from floating.

Running shorts on the other hand are made with linen that prevents external eyes from seeing what’s underneath the short. While this is good for running, the linen can make running shorts difficult to dry faster compared to swimming shorts.

Read Also: Is It Weird For A Girl To Wear Swim Shorts?

Machine washable

Most swim shorts aren’t machine washable due to the spandex material used during production – compared to running shorts. Instead, swim shorts are washed by hand to prevent the shape of the shorts from slacking away or disintegrating faster than they normally should.

Only water worthy

Most swim shorts will give you an absurd look if worn in any wear other than the beach or a swimming pool. Swimming shorts are known to be very revealing due to the flexible material used in their production, especially the brief or speedos model.

Brightly coloured

Although this is dependent on the design, most swim shorts are brightly coloured to give them a more appealing look. I’m not saying there aren’t dark-colored swim shorts available in the market, but the possibility of seeing them around is probably low; so, if your running shorts aren’t brightly designed. You may have to think again.

Do your running shorts meet any of these characteristics? If they meet the first two at least, then you are good to go.

Read Also: Can I Run In Swim Shorts?

Difference between swim shorts and running shorts

Running shorts have lots of similarities with swim shorts especially when it comes to length and probably design, but there are major differences that set aside a swim short from a running short as I will be explaining below:

Versatility in purpose

When it comes to the shorts that can be worn on more than one occasion, board shorts which is actually a type of swimsuit comes to mind.

Because of their length and design, they can easily pass for your regular everyday short, whereas, the seven-inch running shorts might have the required length, but not the required looks a regular board short will give you when worn to a normal occasion.

Versatility in style

Running shorts come in three distinctive styles namely; V-shaped, compression, and split shorts. These sets of running shorts might have different sewing patterns, but for the most part, they look very much alike and could easily be mistaken for the other except if given close attention.

Swim shorts on the other hand come in various styles and patterns such as swimming briefs, speedos (which might look like a brief but isn’t), square legs shorts, board shorts, performance shorts, swimming trunks, among several others. Aside from the swim trunks which are slightly above the knee when compared to board shorts, most of the designs available for swim shorts are distinctively different from each other.

Read Also: Can You Wear Normal Shorts In A Swimming Pool?


Running shorts are known to come in three distinctive length categories which are: 3, 5, and 7 inches respectively. Although there has been recent production that has started including a length of 5.5 inches. In simpler words, the length of running shorts is constant – only the size varies.

Swim shorts on the other hand do not have a pre-determined length like running shorts. This is because of the various designs of swim shorts available. However, some length of board shorts can be determined, but not like what we have with running shorts. In summary, the length of swim shorts can be said to vary proportionally to the size.

Read Also: Can You Wear Swim Shorts To The Gym?

Colour pattern

Most running shorts are known to come with a plain design of single or double colour patterns. This pattern can be bright or dull depending on the runner’s choice.

However, swim shorts are known to come in lovely colour designs that are very easy to spot. Except for speedos, swim shorts come in several colour patterns and inscriptions that are very easy to like.

Linen and netting

Running shorts are primarily designed with linen, while swim shorts are designed with netting. As stated earlier, the netting in swim shorts is there for so many reasons with the chief reason being to support the male genitals wobbling freely on their own.

The linen in running shorts helps to wick moister away from the skin when running to prevent chafing and also improve the oxygen situation around the muscle which can be very vital for a runner when running a standard marathon.

Price range

There’s little difference when it comes to the price range involving running shorts and swims shorts. Speedos are known to be on the high side when it comes to prices involving swimming shorts, but they have the quality to back it up.

Running shorts on the other hand have several household names such as under armour, Nike, Adidas, amongst several others, and I think this is one key reason why the prices in running shorts have tend to remain almost uniform, to say the least.


In terms of maintenance, running shorts are easier to maintain than swim shorts. Most running shorts can be washed in machines without the risk of ruining the material in the process. On the other hand, you are not advised to wash swim shorts in a washer due to the damaging effect it can have on the fabric such as causing them to sag or fade.

Even when drying, swim shorts are given special treatment by not allowing them to hang, rather, one is advised to lie it on the floor to maintain its shape. Running shorts on the other hand does not require such, especially if the material isn’t made with spandex or Lycra.

Read Also: Can You Cut The Netting In Swim Trunks?

Which should I get first, running shorts or swim shorts?

The answer to this question is largely dependent on your personal activities. If you are someone who spends more time swimming than running, then you should go for swimming shorts, and vice-versa.

However, if you indulge in both activities in an almost even fashion, then I recommend you go for a short that is built for running and swimming like this one (click here for more details).

What should I look for when buying swimming shorts? – factors to consider

Shopping for swimming shorts can be a bit tricky, but with these few points I’m about to point out below, you shouldn’t have to worry about making the right choice that suits you.


When it comes to clothes, the first thing you should consider is the size – swim shorts are no different. The size of your swim shorts will always be the first determinant when it comes to fit. Buying something bigger than your size will make you look ridiculous in front of your peers and will also not bring out the best in your body type.

Have an idea of your body

While you ponder on the size that would fit you, also know your body type. Each individual has a body physique that has a direct impact on the swim shorts or suit to purchase. There are athletic, plump, ordinary, and thin builds. Short persons will be better off with square-cut swim shorts.

Huge folks on the other hand will do well with swim briefs as long as it doesn’t glide down their waistline.

For a fit person who would not like to overexpose himself, long fitting swim short is a decent alternative. You can purchase swimshorts in good colours. Notwithstanding, you can feel free to wear any swim shorts of your choice as long as it doesn’t violate any pool or beach rules, and you feel very comfortable in them.

Know your activities on the beach or pool

Several activities go on in the beach or pool area, but it’s important you know the activities you are more likely to engage in.

If you end up on the beach, for instance, you are likely to involve in other activities such as surfing or sunbathing, surfing would require lots of leg movement, and as such, you are advised to go for board shorts, while swim briefs will be ideal if you want to simply bask in the sun, but if you are susceptible to sunburn then you should go for a swimsuit that wouldn’t expose your entire body to the sun.

If you intend to participate more in swimming activities, then square legs would be very ideal for you, since they are designed to hug the body in a good way and also reduce drag when swimming.

Getting rash guard or swim shirts would be very ideal if you seek ultraviolet protection for your upper body region.

It should fit the occasion

Your swim shorts should also fit the occasion you want to attend. If you are having a crush on an event you hope to attend, then you should consider wearing something you feel very comfortable in.

Going to a spa with a work colleague? Then you should consider wearing swim shorts that have a solid colour disposition, your swim shorts should leave nothing to the imagination in such instance.

Material composition

The material composition of most swims shorts, if not all, is usually spandex or Lycra related. Cotton materials are not ideal for swimming shorts because they tend to absorb water and take a lot of time to dry.


Can Nike shorts be use for swimming?

Nike is one of the global household names in sporting apparel, and its shorts are probably one of the best you will find in the market. Yes, you can use Nike shorts for swimming as long as the material used during production is in line with what I explained in this article – made with spandex material.

Can you wear normal shorts for swimming?

Yes. You can wear normal shorts for swimming as long as it’s made with nylon, spandex, or Lycra material. Since most normal shorts are made with cotton material, your average shorts might not be ideal for swimming since normal shorts are mostly made with cotton.

Is Nike Dri-Fit waterproof?

Nike Dri-Fit is not just waterproof but also windproof. The Nike Dri-Fit is designed to have very good breathability. Athletes who wear this cloth under the rain can prevent the rain from soaking the areas covered by the cloth whilst aiding quick evaporation for faster dryness.

Is Dri fit better than cotton?

When it comes to keeping you dry, dri-fit are known to allow swear or moisture to evaporate more readily compared to cotton which takes time to dry. In simpler words, an athlete will do better with a dri-fit shirt than a cotton shirt.

Can You Swim In Running Shorts – Conclusion

Running shorts are a must-have if you engaging in regular running activities, however, swimming in them should entirely depend on the material used in their design as well as your comfort. Don’t leave anything to chance. Kindly drop your comment, questions, and observation if you have any. Cheers!!!

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