Swim Suits and Underwater Visibility

Posted by Whitney Benedetti on April 29, 2021

Have you ever thought about choosing a swim suit based on color?

Not the color you or your child like best, but rather the color that is most easily visible underneath the water. Why would you even consider choosing a swim suit this way? Well, the answer is that not all swim suit colors look the same under water. When your child goes under water to play or if they should have an involuntary submersion incident; lifeguards and parents want to be able to quickly identify any person on the bottom of the pool clearly and then respond accordingly.

The below graphic indicates a variety of colors used on swim suits and how they are likely to appear under water. The pool bottom used in the pictures is a light color, like both the RAC’s indoor and outdoor pools.

  • The colors shown above the photos are the swim suit colors.
  • The first picture below the color shows what a suit of that color looks like while under water that is relatively flat or with limited water distortion.
  • The picture immediately below that is the same color suit but with water disturbance, like when children are splashing and playing.

Swim suit color test resultsImage used by permission of Aquatic Safety Connection

Take note of how each color, other than the white and light blue, are fairly easy to see while the water is relatively flat. You will notice that many of those colors are much harder to see under water when there is surface agitation.

The hardest colors to distinguish are the light blue and white. Darker colors are more visible on the light pool bottom, but they can often be confused with leaves, dirt, or shadows and you should try to avoid swim suits with lots of dark colors as well. The clear winners are the neon colors pink and orange.

So, next time you go to buy a swim suit, think bright colors for better visibility!

Whitney Benedetti

Whitney Benedetti

Whitney Benedetti has been the Aquatics and Activities Director at the Rochester Athletic Club for 16 years. She has 30 years of experience as an aquatics professional and 25+ years as an instructor and instructor trainer of water safety, lifeguarding, and swim classes. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family in Oklahoma, travel, working puzzles, and playing softball.

Contact Whitney Benedetti at (507) 287-9314.

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