What are buoyancy swim shorts?

Buoyancy shorts are thick neoprene swim shorts.  They normally have a thickness greater than 3mm and designed to create more core elevation.  This allows you the freedom to swim, dive, jump into the water and much of the benefits that triathletes are accustomed to from wearing wetsuits in open water.  In this weeks blog we address the challenge of “Do buoyancy Shorts Work”? and help you decide if you should buy a pair.  

Buoyancy Shorts vs Pull Buoy

Buoyancy shorts will make you swim your laps faster in the pool, but so will putting fins or using a pull buoy.



Buoyancy at the hip area is fantastic for elevating body position and allowing the swimmer to get a flat swim posture. Traditionally swimmers have used pull buoys for this.  Creating the closest thing to simulating wetsuit swimming when training in the pool.  Buoyancy shorts improve this permitting a more natural roll in the water aligned to your natural stroke.

The waist band sits in a natural position activating the core essential to an efficient technique.  A strong core is essential for those training for endurance swim events or Ironman triathlons where preservation of your reserves through the swim is essential.  With an elevated body position combined with rotation you are  able to get on top of the catch phase of your swim stroke.  This results in a more efficient stroke with the result a greater distance per stroke.

To measure for yourself use the Garmin SWOLF score results to see how your swimming is affected by a pair of buoyancy shorts.  If you are not familiar with SWOLF check out our article on the Garmin SWOLF score explained for more information.

>>>  15 of the Best Triathlon Wetsuits 2021 – Complete Buyers Guide from £100 to £1000

What do you wear under buoyancy shorts?

Putting the buoyancy shorts on and removing them is not as simple an exercise as conventional swim jammers.  That said this isn’t going to be taking you terribly long.  The latest range of neoprene buoyancy shorts include flexible stretch throughout especially in the side panels having been designed just for this.  An improvement on earlier models that were much more rigid.  In terms of what to wear underneath your buoyancy shorts, you simply wear nothing.  They go straight on in the same way as any normal swim shorts.



Buoyancy shorts sizing and fit

While they look a bit strange as you are essentially strutting about in rubber shorts its nothing significantly different to lycra style shorts that only a close inspection would reveal.  Given you are wearing something rubber consider size carefully and ideally buy where you can try them on.  We recommend being cautious in sizing rather than ambitious on what size you might be.  We can’t all be a medium!  That said in the same way as a wetsuit feels more snug on dry land so do buoyancy shorts that benefit from being saturated in the wet stuff.

Core Strength for swimming 

So if you are a “lazy” swimmer who drags their legs like an anchor battling with low legs then buoyancy could well be the answer.  The only issue is that if you are planning any triathlons overseas these can be non-wetsuit swims.  This restriction means you need to consider strengthening your core and improve your stroke rather than rely on buoyancy to correct your drag.  Check our article on core strength training for triathletes with 15 essential exercises and a free 10 minute workout.

Core Triathlete Workout

Core Triathlete Workout

Why are buoyancy shorts better?

Summarising the benefits for any of you still sitting on the fence.  Buoyancy shorts are better than relying on a pull buoy due to the following:

  1. You can maintain your standard stroke with roll unrestricted
  2. Your body is flatter in the water still without any risk of cramp from clutching a pull buoy
  3. You can kick!  Legs need not fall asleep and be a mere passenger

Are buoyancy shorts allowed in triathlons?

So can you wear buoyancy shorts in a triathlon?  While buoyancy shorts are a super addition to your training regime it is worth noting that they are not allowed in triathlon swims.  This is for all wetsuit and for non-wetsuit swims in triathlons.  While swimming shorts are permitted avoiding you having to hit the water in your budgie smugglers buoyancy shorts are not to be worn instead of a wetsuit.  The official triathlon rules mandate that wetsuits must not exceed the permitted thickness that rules out buoyancy shorts.

Summary of Do Buoyancy Shorts Work?

For me they are a god send in winter when training in the pool.  I naturally have a very light kick in the swim so without a strong core my legs drag. Buoyancy shorts help me to swim with a wetsuit feel.  I don’t rely only on them through the winter months and interchange with swim jammers.  This variety helps not lose the natural challenge of swimming without core support.  

Best buoyancy swim shorts to buy

dhb buoyancy shorts 2.0 – £35 from Wiggle (currently 30% off retail price of £50 – Noted May 2021).  The latest version of their original buoyancy shorts and not much more than cost of a pair of swim jammers.  So, do buoyancy shorts work?  Try these for yourself and find out!



Blue seventy core buoyancy short – premium quality at £57 from Wiggle (massive 40% saving on list price of £95 currently – noted May 2021)  


BlueSeventy Core Buoyancy Swim Shorts

Huub varman buoyancy short – best looking and recently launched new product at £89.99 from Wiggle (currently with a 10% discount on retail price of £99 – noted May 2021).



Zone3 the original buoyancy short 5:3 – maximum elevation at £67.50 from Wiggle


Zone3 5:3 buoyancy shorts

SBart Buoyancy shorts – The lowest priced neoprene buoyancy shorts that we have been able to find.  Back to basics 3mm neoprene swim shorts for £23.95.  Cheapest buoyancy shorts available.  



For a full round-up of 15 of the best buoyancy shorts you can buy read our complete listing. 

Our Favourites and recommended buoyancy shorts to buy

Huub Sphere Neoprene Buoyancy Shorts – check out our in-depth review of these shorts.

Orca buoyancy shorts – check out our review of the latest 2020 Orca buoyancy shorts

Do Buoyancy Shorts Work Infographic

Do Buoyancy Shorts Work Infographic

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Billy Ferguson

Founder of Trivelo


Marciela Stukes · 16/09/2019 at 6:44 pm

This is great. I struggle with my swim and keen to try these out.

I have joined your rss feed and look forward to getting more updates like this.

Hubert Well · 26/12/2019 at 10:49 pm

I hate swimming and willing to give buoyancy shorts a go as anything has to better than my current efforts!

Rania Moorhouse · 15/04/2020 at 9:30 am

Been thinking about trying buoyancy shorts for ages. This answers the questions I had and tipped me over. On it now to buy a set in readiness for the pools being open again. Will need all the help I can get not having been able to swim for weeks!

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