Synchro Suit Design Tips from Expert Courtenay Grant

I am super excited to have expert swim suit designer and suit maker, Courtenay Grant, writing a guest blog this week. Be sure to check out her website and follow her on Facebook.


It’s that Time of Year Again, Synchro Costume Time!

As the synchro season begins and routines start to take shape swimmers and coaches start thinking about costumes. Whether you have an idea already sketched out, or don’t even know where to begin here are some great pointers.

In my 16 years in Synchronized swimming as a competitive athlete, National team member, National and World Champion as well as coach I have worn costumes made by a variety of companies and seamstresses. In that time they have ranged from amazing pieces of art to something I wouldn’t put on my dog. This long history and experience has aided me in my business of creating beautiful swim costumes for the past 10 years.

So where do we start?! Here are the most frequent questions I am asked:

  1. What should I look for in a seamstress?

In order to get the best suit possible do your research. Make sure the company, local seamstress or crafty mom has experience in swimwear. Be careful with seamstresses who only have experience in rhythmic gymnastics costumes or bikini’s, make sure they know the difference in shape and leg cut of synchro…. We want to show our hipbones, in rythmics they do not.

Best way to find a suit maker is through word of mouth as many of these companies don’t advertise. And if possible be able to see the product to get an idea of quality. Start be asking around at competitions.

  1. Should I go custom or store bought?

What level are your swimmers? I highly recommend using companies like SPLISH for less competitive athletes (12&Under Prov., 10&Under, 8&under). These suits are fun, more affordable and can be jewelled or sequined for glitz. Once an athlete reaches competitive (Espoir, COSSC) it’s time to move up to the big leagues, an athlete feels more confident if they have a great costume…. Believe me; I always walked taller at a competition when I was in a ROCKIN costume.

  1. HELP! I have no ideas!!!

In order to get the suit of your dreams the suit designer needs as much ideas from you as possible. WE AREN’T MIND READERS!!! Depending on the seamstress you may not need to have a solid design ready, but you should go to the seamstress with the following information:

  • What colours do you like (and/or absolutely hate)
  • Theme, bring your music with you as this can affect what a designer will create
  • An idea of the style of suit you want (basic tank, halter, strappy, etc.)
  • Any sort of inspiration, this could be pictures of a gymnast costume, CD cover, a pattern etc. (every little bit counts)
  • BUDGET!!!!!! What you’re willing to spend will greatly affect what we can make.


  1. Why do Costumes Cost so much?

Rule of thumb… The more complicated the design the more expensive the suit will be! A company that produces costume as their main business will most likely more expensive than a team parent not charging for their extensive labour. (No offence to any parents as I have had many amazing costumes made by parents!!)

There can be a big range in how much seamstresses and companies will charge for a suit. Think of it this way, when you are ordering a custom costume they are most likely pattern drafted, traced, and cut by hand one at a time and then assembled on the machine. A costume can take anywhere from 4-18 hours per suit to make, and manufacturing locally in Canada costs more. In the case of my suit making company I love what I do, but this is my livelihood and I would like to be able put food on my table and a roof over my head!

  1. JEWELS!!!! How many Jewels!!!

BLING FACTOR! Depending on how you want the suit to look 500-1000 Swarovski crystals, 200 at the minimum.

I could write a novel on synchro costumes but I hope this information helps as the season starts and you have costumes on your mind.

So before I sign off a few parting words: Start looking for seamstresses early as we only have three months to have suits ready for the first January meet. Be realistic about the design of the suit and what it will cost you. Do your research, and the more ideas and inspiration you give to your suit maker, the better!!!


Courtenay Grant

Owner // Operator

Living Water Designs

Custom Synchronized Swimming & Athletic Costumes



  1. Joanne on November 24, 2017 at 9:16 PM

    Vanessa, can you recommend some swimsuit designers?
    Many thanks,

  2. Sarah Fürnholzer on January 16, 2021 at 8:06 AM

    Inspiring. I am trying to teach myself to sew. A big learning curve but making progress.

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