Big Boobs v. Small Boobs in Triathlon

I was reading through the Lava Magazine that I just received last week, and was looking at all the top pro competitors, both male and female, but I couldn’t help but notice that all of the women in the pro field had small chests.  Now, a lot of times girls with small chests feel self conscious or they bond together and make fun of themselves, or they wish they had bigger chests, yada yada yada, but honestly, I would be in the minority.  You know a lot of girls might brag about having big chests, and this is not one of those times.  In fact, my boobs have always gotten in the way!

When I was a gymnast, you were not supposed to have big boobs.  I remember because I started to get a butt and boobs, my gymnastics coach, started to call me fat, and tell me I needed to lose weight, I was 14.  Well I pretty much quit gymnastics the next day, and I was crying for weeks.  I couldn’t believe it.  I never really told my mom about it because I didn’t want to cause a huge spectacle at the gym, and have my mom yell at the coach, so I kind of just moved on and made up some lame excuse why I wanted to focus on soccer.  Although, I did want to focus on soccer because it was more social and less demanding of my time.  There were no 3 or 4 hours practices, and when we went away on tournaments it was all about the team and hanging out.  I loved it.  Now, with soccer I didn’t have as big of a problem, but I will never forget again at about the age of 16 one of my coaches saying “you are getting a little top heavy.”  I mean seriously?  Who says that to a 16 year old, by the way both of these coaches in gymnastics and soccer were men.  Well, I again cried but I didn’t quit because I loved my team, and I told my friends on the team and they were there to support me.  There was nothing I could do about having boobs, that’s what happens when you go from a girl to a woman.  I ended up playing college soccer, and as the years went on there were plenty of really talented girls with boobs, although some of us ended up wearing two sports bras, haha, so there would be less bouncing!

Anyway, it got me to thinking are flat chested girls better triathletes than bigger chested girls?  Why are there no big chested pro triathletes?  Yes, it could have a bit to do with body fat, and if I lost a little bit of body fat I might have smaller boobs, but I still would not lose my boobs, believe me even at my skinniest, I had boobs.

Oh yea, one thing, I’m so glad none of these things led to an eating disorder, those coaches were lucky that I had a good support network and that I was strong enough, because those types of comments can destroy people, especially when you are a teenager and no one is comfortable in their own skin.

So, I looked at the list of pro triathletes competing in Kona, there are 53 competing this year, and I’m not kidding I googled each one of them and looked at their images, and I could only find 1, she maybe was a size B or C, the rest A’s for sure.  1 out of 53, then I started to look through the ITU rankings, and again I couldn’t find anybody with big boobs.  So, is this just a current trend?  I can’t help but hope that there are other big boobed girls like me, who make it to pro and we start our own trend, because I want to prove that in a sport where it is uncommon, that it doesn’t prevent someone from being a great triathlete!  Just like it shouldn’t in gymnastics or soccer, or any other sport for that matter!

29 thoughts on “Big Boobs v. Small Boobs in Triathlon

  1. Hi I found your blog because I want to do my first tri in May but have no idea what to wear! My breast are too large to just wear a swimsuit and I would think a tri-suit would be the same. Also I will miss my padded biking shorts! Any suggestions on how to do this and not have to get naked and switch outfits in transitions?

    • Hi Elizabeth! I’m so glad you asked. I always wear a sports bra in addition to my tri top. I wear my ultra supportive one, and find that it works great. I also put glide underneath my boobs to keep the chaffing to a minimum. I have gotten some nasty cuts before, which is no fun. I hope this helps! P.S my favorite go to sports bras are by lululemon and Oakley that I wear in racing. They both make extra supportive sports bras.

  2. Hi,

    What a great post. I was watching a running clip from my tri hero Mirinda Carfrae and realized that I never have had such a nice forward gazelle style run as she does, simply because my boobs will say: whoah really?! (and my legs too ;) who can run as naturally as Mirinda does anyway?)

    I am 1.71m, 65kg and a proud 38E. I wear a solid sports bra during a triathlon event. No changing just the same (wet) bra during the entire event. The first couple of bras would cause friction injury (almost like a blister) below my breasts. Now I found one that ‘flats’ my boobs against my body and keeps them down. It is a high closed model on the front, really tight on the front as well and gets the weight off the neck during the run. They still bounce a bit but not as much (no boob staring with this one). And the blistering is gone because it had no inner seams. The brand is SA shock absorber. A good friend and athlete (a guy!) selected it for me from their running collection at Run2Day in The Netherlands.

    Great to read we are so many out there in triathlon kicking ass with beautiful big boobs!!

    Keep them rocking!

    Diana

  3. Had some of the same experiences, both from coaches telling me my swimming career was over because I got boobs and wondering if any endurance athletes have boobs…I’ve had a “uni-boob” since about 7th grade :) I was very competative in triathlon the past two years and found that even when I was super lean and my boobs “shrank” (well, disappeared if you ask my husband) I was still a large B. At some point you have to accept that boobs are part of you and no matter how small you get, they are still going to be there and will probably still be on the larger side just modified to fit your ever leaning out body. The good news is that there are sports bras out there that provide support. But just like tri gear, I don’t think there’s a magic bullet bra that is going to fit everyone with a larger chest. I wore Moving Comfort (style is no longer available) and literally wore the bra out. Kicking myself for not buying more than one. I’m now in search of a new bra and have read great things about CW-X bras, think I’m going to try this one out. And then smile while standing on the podium when my chest fills out my dress and I look like a woman!

  4. Had some of the same experiences, both from coaches telling me my swimming career was over because I got boobs and wondering if any endurance athletes have boobs…I’ve had a “uni-boob” since about 7th grade :) I was very competative in triathlon the past two years and found that even when I was super lean and my boobs “shrank” (well, disappeared if you ask my husband) I was still a large B. At some point you have to accept that boobs are part of you and no matter how small you get, they are still going to be there and will probably still be on the larger side just modified to fit your ever leaning out body. The good news is that there are sports bras out there that provide support. But just like tri gear, I don’t think there’s a magic bullet bra that is going to fit everyone with a larger chest. I wore Moving Comfort (style is no longer available) and literally wore the bra out. Kicking myself for not buying more than one. I’m now in search of a new bra and have read great things about CW-X bras, think I’m going to try this one out. And then smile while standing on the podium when my chest fills out my dress and I look like a woman!

  5. Hi, good to see your post and know I’m not the only one struggling. I know it’s been awhile since you posted this but it seems there are a few companies starting to take notice of us ‘normal’ people ( I think it’s Panache that has a DD+ sized competitive suit). As a teenager I was a 32DDD and am currently a 34G. No matter how much weight I lose or how fit I get, I will never be a B or C cup, so apparently I can’t be a pro-athlete 8-} but as long as I still enjoy running and swimming and biking (I always feel like a 5 year old on my road bike :-D) I don’t give a hoot what the clothing manufacturers think

  6. A late but maybe useful info… Enell Sports bra is fabulous for those that need a real running bra. It may not be pretty but it works like no other bra or 3-bra combo! Enell.com

  7. I was wondering if you had any tips for females who do have big boobs and are looking for some swimsuit gear advice. Sports bra under swimsuit? What worked for you?

    • Great question! For swimming I just buy tight swimsuits. I haven’t found an issue in the water, since there isn’t any bouncing. But, I definitely can’t wear any of those tiny “sports” swimming two pieces. Unless the top is like a sports bra.

  8. Hi Katie! I just did my first triathlon in relay form, and I did the swim because neither of the other girls wanted that bit. =) From this experience I would say that there are two factors contributing to the lack of big-breasted women tri-pros. A big barrier to me getting into triathlon-ing so far has been the run. First of all, it’s difficult to run anyway because your breasts are just so darn heavy, so I slack on training for the run. Swimmy and bike are so much easier on the bouncing. The second is that I’m worried about the transition times, because I don’t want to ruin my good sports bras in the water, but it’s practically impossible to put a sports bra on wet (plus the nudity factor) and there’s absolutely no way I can run without it or with those flimsy “triathlon” tops. But that’s not even the worst hurdle. What hurts the most is really when I get comments from other triathletes with modest chests express envy. Really? Would you give up your top professional position just to have breasts that everyone stares at? I think not. Every time I get a comment like that from some super-fit professional, I wish there was a way I could lend them to her for a day so she could feel the alternative.

    • Anna, I recently was re-reading this blog post I had written, because I’m still finding that there aren’t a lot of big chested triathletes. Personally, I wear a sports bra throughout an entire triathlon, so no changing. I LOVE the All Sports Bra from lululemon. I wear it for everything. Have you found a method that works for you? Or have you found any triathletes that have boobs?

  9. I hope it’s not too late to join the comment party– i found your blog when looking for stuff about swimming and then read some of your other posts. Here’s my take on boobs: When I’m overweight as now I’m a 38DD, but even when at fighting weight I’m about a 36DD. And running, well it just isn’t that much fun with the boobs. And it isn’t even that people make comments–as a 50 year-old I’m essentially invisible to the whistling crowd. It’s something else: I swim and bike and sometimes jog, but 3 bras are not going to immobilize me enough to run fast as comfortably as a flatter woman. So I wouldn’t be motivated to focus on it. It probably isn’t a structural impediment (as the wide hips many women have might be– I don’t know)– just a barrier/disincentive to training.

    • Hi Rosel,

      I recently was re-reading this blog post, and was re-inspired to re-write about this topic, because it seems to affect more people than I thought. Have you found a good sports bra that works vs. wearing 3?

  10. I hope it’s not too late to join the comment party– i found your blog when looking for stuff about swimming and then read some of your other posts. Here’s my take on boobs: When I’m overweight as now I’m a 38DD, but even when at fighting weight I’m about a 36DD. And running, well it just isn’t that much fun with the boobs. And it isn’t even that people make comments–as a 50 year-old I’m essentially invisible to the whistling crowd. It’s something else: I swim and bike and sometimes jog, but 3 bras are not going to immobilize me enough to run fast as comfortably as a flatter woman. So I wouldn’t be motivated to focus on it. It probably isn’t a structural impediment (as the wide hips many women have might be)– just a barrier/disincentive to training.

  11. Hi! I found you through BlogHer :)
    I have small boobs and wish I could say it’s the triathlon training that made them that way ;) Though I’m pretty sure they’ve gotten even smaller with exercise. I definitely see super lean women (and men) in the elite sports on tv. I always wonder what they look like in the off season when they’re able to hold on to a bit more body fat. Smaller chests definitely seem to be the trend though.

  12. wow, i can’t believe your coaches woudl say that to you. that is sexually offensive and they both should have been fired. glad you had the self esteem to keep doing sports despite those jerks!

    • Hi Carol,

      I recently was re-reading this post, and have been inspired to re-visit this issue as it still is an issue. Thanks for your sweet comment!

      Katie

  13. i’m no doctor! ..but i think because of the lean mass needed at the pro level and that since breast are a fatty tissue.. that’s why it seems like they are all “small breasted” I’m sure their not all “Naturally” small breasted.

    Either way.. AMAZING MACHINES!!!!!

  14. While I can’t really comment on boobs exactly, a bit odd as I’m male I’ll say that while I was watching the championship this weekend my wife was casually watching as well. She then asked where all the women were, I told her they had been showing them the whole time and that one was on screen right then. She said “Really? I couldn’t tell … she doesn’t have boobs does she?”

    You’re not the only one to notice. Something tells me that the more “normally” shaped women that go pro the better and more balanced the sport will be.

    • It’s pretty damn sad that your wife defines a woman by the size of her breasts. Shame on her for adding to the insecurities of naturally thin, small breasted women.

    • Hi Sean,

      Was recently re-reading this blog post I had written, because I’ve been inspired to re-visit this issue. Have you seen any changes in the sport?

  15. I absolutely love this blog post! I have noticed this since I was in high school; I was a ‘B’ in high school and now a ‘C’, I did not have any problems or comments in high school but I had a friend who played volleyball, basketball, softball, and soccer and she was pushing a DD. She had a body most girls would dream of, super fit and had boobs. She received so many comments from male coaches about her boobs and she needed to lose weight. I really wish men would realize that even when we are at our skinniest, we have boobs and a butt. I currently weigh 136; I am a 34C and I have a booty. It is a part of being a woman, our hormones control a lot of how our body curves.
    I would not change my body for anything.

  16. Yep, I’ve noticed. I’m a runner not a triathlete and ever since high school I’ve been getting the “Big boobs for a runner” looks and comments. Would I be a little faster if I had a little less?…probably, but running/athletics are about feeling good about yourself, being healthy, & confident. I’ve worked my tail off for this body an I’m happy to represent the bigger boob side of athletics. ;)

  17. Wow, glad I’m not the only one who noticed this!! And good idea to write about. You in leotards, me in speedos and all the exposure on the larger chests that yes, are still there even in the skinny and super-fit periods. I always find it interesting how the non-sporty girls want to trade me while I want to trade them ;)

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