How to Enjoy the Pool or Beach with Bowel Incontinence: Carewell’s Guide to Adult Swim Diapers

Kiera Powell, R.N.

Verified by Kiera Powell, R.N. and written by Chad Birt on Mon Jul 12 2021.

Medically Verified

An older man sites at the beach with a child.

If you’ve stopped taking trips to the beach or pool due to bowel incontinence, you may want to consider adult swim diapers. Thanks to advances in materials, it’s possible to manage unexpected voids while preventing leaks of fecal matter.

With summer in full swing, many people are beginning to plan their summer getaways. If you thought swimming wasn’t possible, think again. With a little bit of research, it’s possible to find an adult swim underwear style that meets your needs.

To assist you in the decision-making process, we’ve compiled a guide of important considerations. This article answers the following questions:

What are adult swim diapers?

Adult swim diapers are incontinence products specifically designed for underwater use. They’re made of comfortable, heavy-duty materials, making it possible to get into the pool with your grandchildren, visit the beach on the weekend, or simply cool off in a body of water without having to worry about constant bathroom breaks.  

Swim diapers are unique in that they’re free of polymers, the beads in traditional diapers that help absorb moisture. That means they won’t puff up or get soggy, allowing for discreet wear underneath a bathing suit or swim trunks. This also means that they will not contain liquid, so be aware that any urine leaks will pass through.

What are the different features of adult swim underwear?

Waterproof swim underwear has several caregiver-favorite features like:

Thin materials. Swim trunks and bathing suits are often made from thin, light-colored materials, which can make it challenging to discreetly wear adult swim diapers. Luckily, our swim products use cloth-like backing that mimics the fabrics in traditional underwear. These materials are thin, silent, and don’t puff up or expand when exposed to water.

Breathability. If you plan on wearing a swim diaper for more than a few hours, it’s important that there’s plenty of airflow. Urine and fecal matter emit gases that can irritate the skin, resulting in a rash, sores, or infection. Permeable fabrics like those in adult swim diapers allow your skin to breathe, minimizing the need for frequent diaper changes.

Leg gathers. Leg gathers are bands of flexible material that wrap around your thighs and bottom. They make it easy to participate in physically-demanding activities like lap swimming or underwater aerobics without worrying about accidents. Most modern leg gathers are made of elastic, which traps bowel voids inside the underwear, keeping it out of the pool or other bodies of water.  

Disposable. We offer disposable swim underwear, which can be conveniently disposed of after each use – that means no mess!

What can I do about urinary incontinence in the pool? 

Non-swim pull-ups and diapers with tabs absorb urinary incontinence because of something called “polymers.” Polymers soak up moisture and swell inside of absorbent cores. Because pools are full of moisture, there are no adult swim diapers that contain polymers – otherwise, the moisture in the pool would cause the material to puff up and start to break apart.

That being said, adult swim underwear can provide some very light protection against urinary leakage. These products have a plastic barrier that locks bowel incontinence inside. That barrier can protect against light urine leakage as well, though typically, some urine will still escape into the water around you. 

Can I put a booster pad inside of swim underwear for added protection? 

Since booster pads contain absorbent polymers, it is not recommended to add a pad inside of a swim diaper. Water has the potential to cause the fabric to break down and lose quality, and will not protect against additional incontinence. 

Where can I purchase protective swim underwear for adults?

You can find adult water diapers right here on the Carewell website. We’re proud to stock Swimmates™ by Tranquility. Swimmates are comfortable, disposable, pull-up style adult swim diapers. They feature inner leg cuffs made of elastic, a breathable cloth-like backing material, and tear-away seams for easy removal. 

SwimMates Disposable Adult Pull-Up Underwear

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Offer moderate absorbency

  • Traps bowel incontinence

  • Unisex

  • No polymers, so there’s no risk of them swelling or breaking apart

  • Perfect for swim lessons, physical therapy, or underwater aerobics

What if I have questions about adult swim diapers?

Do you have additional questions about adult swim diapers? Please reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable Care Team by calling (800) 696-CARE or sending a message to   

Our Caregiving Specialists know everything about the products we carry and would love to help. Contact them at any time!

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.