Bikinis and one-pieces have traditionally been skimpy rather than sporty, designed for reclining in sun loungers rather than diving into waves or playing beach volleyball.

But at last, it seems brands have woken up to the fact that lots of women want to be active on the beach during summer.

An active swimsuit needs to be supportive, comfy and, most importantly, it needs to stay in place and guard your modesty.

Though your swimsuit needs will depend on what you’re using it for, gentle sea swimming obviously requires far less support and coverage than running or a beach workout.

These swimsuits and bikinis were tested swimming and playing sport on Brighton beach.

They were tested according to their support, comfort, quality of material and whether they stayed put in action.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Deakin and Blue high neck Hepburn swimsuit in mango: £110, Deakin and Blue

Wearing a costume made by the British swim brand Deakin and Blue feels like swimming in high fashion. The colours are bright and beautiful, the fabrics used are high quality and the cuts stylish yet flattering for all shapes and sizes. We especially like how the swimsuits are sold specifically for your cup size, tailoring the fit further. They’re incredibly comfy and supportive to swim or do beach sports in and made in east London from ECONYL sustainable fabric. A fantastic buy that is available in different colourways and up to a size 20.

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Nike Swim digi arrow women’s powerback swimsuit: £33.99, Pro Swimwear

This digi arrow swimsuit from Nike Swim is a great choice for swimmers, especially those who want to go fast. Streamlined, with a snug fit and racer back-design, we found it comfortable to wear in the pool or sea, even for extended periods of time. The fabric felt durable and good value for the price. However, this doesn’t have support in the chest, so it’s less suited to active beach sports and running than other swimsuits we tested.

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Volcom simply solid logo surfsuit: £70, ASOS

A cross between a swimming costume and a rash vest, this hybrid from Volcom would be a really good choice for surfers. We liked that you could catch waves, swim and generally be active on the beach, without worrying about your swimsuit flying up or off. We also liked the UV protection this suit would give your upper body, and that it was made from recycled fishing nets. It does have a high cut on the rear though, which didn’t entirely fit with the sporty vibe. Available in sizes 8-14.

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Tide and Seek aqua marble surf bralette & bikini bottoms: £35 top, £32 bottoms, Tide and Seek

We liked the marbled design and pretty straps on the back of this Tide and Seek bikini. It had the least coverage of the swimsuits on test and the support was light, but it still stayed in place pretty well for gentle beach exercise and swimming, though it wouldn’t be a swimsuit you’d want to run or dive into serious waves in. We liked that it was made from Repreve fabric, which is 100 per cent made from recycled plastic bottles. If you’re not keen on this colourway, there are others available.

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Ellesse pomum bikini top & malus bikini pant: £12 top, £7.20 bottoms, Ellesse

We liked the bright colours and sporty look of this Ellesse bikini. The coverage was moderate, as opposed to skimpy, and it was the cheapest bikini on test. But we didn’t find the support especially strong, nor did the fabric feel particularly durable. But this is a good on-trend holiday choice for light swimming and gentle beach exercise.

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Roxy Fitness athletic triangle bikini top and full bikini bottoms: £24.50 top, £22.40 bottoms, Roxy

Surfing in a bikini can be a real challenge, but we were impressed with the hold and support provided by the cross-back design on this Roxy bikini. It was also really comfy to wear while messing about in the waves and swimming, though it probably wouldn’t be supportive enough for running in. We liked the palm print and the cut of both the top and bottoms was flattering. The bottoms certainly weren’t skimpy, though they weren’t necessarily the “full coverage” advertised by the brand either. Overall, a good value, nice-looking choice.

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Speedo reflect wave crop top and sport short: £40 top, £25 brief, Speedo

If a core swim brand such as Speedo designs a fitness-specific range, you’d expect it to perform well and this set did exactly that. The chest support was the strongest we tried; it felt like a sports bra you could run, take a beach workout class in or even race a triathlon in. The bottoms were similarly supportive with a firm waistband to hold them in place. It’s a performance product and flattering in an athletic way, but probably not something you’d want to wear all day while lounging around the pool. The top came with removable pads. An alternative tank top is available in this style, as are sports brief-style or board short-style bottoms.

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Body Glove Samoa Penelope halter swim top and pulse cross-over short: £60 top, £50 shorts, Body Glove

When we first put this Body Glove bikini top on we got in a slight tangle with the straps but once it was on it was comfy, flattering and really supportive to swim and run around in. The shorts were also super comfy and flattering but weren’t quite as robust in the sea. They lack an inner layer which can leave you feeling feel slightly exposed, but they’d be fine for gentle swimming and we liked running in them. The top can be matched with a more traditional bikini-style bottom.

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Nabaiji loran women’s one-piece tankini swimsuit: £14.99, Decathlon

This one-piece tankini swimsuit from Decathlon’s swim brand Nabaiji is a good, flattering choice if you want extra coverage while being active at the beach. The way the tankini fabric sits over the main suit wouldn’t win you any swim races, but it definitely makes you feel less exposed, as do the cycling short-style bottoms. The inner costume felt supportive on the chest, and it comes with removable pads. This goes up to a size 22.

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Finisterre vivet bikini top and shorts: £55 top, £45 shorts, Finisterre

We loved wearing this vivet bikini from Cornish eco brand Finisterre. We liked the print and flattering style, and felt confident sea swimming and playing beach tennis in it, thanks to the supportive cross-back design of the top and the comfortable, high coverage shorts. Both pieces held in place well thanks to fixed elastic banding. The bikinis are made using sustainable ECONYL fabric weaved in Italy and made in Portugal. The top features light moulded cups.

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Seafolly active swimsuit: £72, Selfridges

This gorgeous Eighties-style swimsuit from Seafolly looked really nice on, though in spite of the name it didn’t feel like a swimsuit we could be especially active in. Partly as it felt you might risk exposing yourself if you moved around too energetically in it, but also because there was little support on the chest. But we did love the style of the cut and it would be fine for holiday swimming and a gentle game of beach tennis.

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The verdict: Active swimsuits and bikinis

We love Deakin and Blue for its sustainable ethos and for the quality, comfort and support of its swimsuit. The best performing active bikinis were those from Speedo, Roxy and Finisterre.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.