What are Swim Shirts?

Malcolm Tatum

To understand the concept of swim shirts, it is important to think in terms of both protection and style. As people have become more aware of the fact that exposure to excess sunlight can be harmful, a need for swimwear that would help to block a large portion of the UV rays has emerged. UV rays are those that can cause so much damage to the skin.

Swim shirts protect against damaging UV rays.
Swim shirts protect against damaging UV rays.

Designed to allow the wearer to enjoy the beach while remaining protected, swim shirts can provide a great deal of protection. Some brands have SPF ratings of up to 150, and someone who is wearing one is less likely to be burned by the sun in those areas that it covers. This can greatly lower the chance of the person experiencing sun-related skin problems later in life.

One of the more popular types of swim shirts is the surf shirt. Surf shirts are typically found in long sleeved models that also provide neck coverage similar to a turtleneck style. Along with providing excellent protection from the reflection of the sun’s rays off of the water, shirts of this type are form fitting while still allowing for easy movement while in the water. Some models are made to be put on like a t-shirt, while others have a zipper up the front. Matching swim shorts are also available, and the tops and bottoms are often sold as a matched set.

For general wear around the beach, swim shirts also come in short sleeved designs. Providing the same level of protection as their long sleeved counterparts, these are also favorites of athletes and weight lifters, as the form fitting design is often a good option for working out in.

Purchasing swim shirts is relatively easy for anyone that lives near a lake or major body of water. Beach shops provide a nice selection of shirts and shorts, with designs for just about every taste. For people that are do not live near water, these tops are often found at sporting goods stores and the sports department of some discount retail stores. Many online shops carry a broad selection, often with price tags that are comparable to a brick and mortar retail outlet.

Swim shirts are manufactured to fit just about anyone, with models for men, women, and children. While more expensive than some forms of beachwear, they hold up very well and will typically last for several seasons. Between the protective properties, easy styling, and durable wear, it is no wonder these tops have become a little more popular each year.

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Discussion Comments


I bought all of my kids swim shirts, because I was tired of having to apply sunscreen on them at least twice during a trip to the city park pool. This way the kids can just slip on their swimming shirts at home and go right into the water. I think the girls actually prefer swim shirts to their usual two-piece bathing suits. They don't have to worry about straps coming loose or anything.


I'm very susceptible to sunburn, and for years I limited my time at the beach or pool because of that. I really don't like applying sunscreen lotions, and if I don't wear any protection at all, I'll be burnt to a crisp in about a half hour. That's why I was so happy to find out about swim shirts. A local sporting goods store had some on sale and I decided to try one.

The minute I put it on, I knew it was the perfect solution for my sun exposure problem. I went to the beach and stayed for at least two hours. I was in and out of the water a lot, and I also took a short nap on a blanket. When I got home, I was just vaguely pink in the places not covered by the swimming shirt. What a great product!

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