Running shoes and short-shorts of nylon may not be my specialty, but swimsuits are a place where I am a gear snob. After years of teaching swim lessons, swimming for fitness, water aerobics, life-guarding, and ocean prowling, my experience in the world of water-wear has given me definite opinions on the various options that exist in the chlorine dominated world.
The first attire rule of lap swimming and water running is this: do not wear a two piece. Even a sporty two piece. Two pieces slide around. Also, they leave you subject to judgement by other swimmers, who are either put off by your lack of seriousness about swimming, consider you to not be a swimmer of any caliber, or are simply jealous of your hot body. Whatever the reason for being judgey, right or wrong, it leaves a taste worse than chemicals in everyone’s mouth. Plus, if your suit then does ride up or down when diving in or flip-turning, other swimmers are less apt to be sympathetic.
Wow, I just made lap swimmers sound super cliquish. Maybe I’m not wrong about that. But I would hope I am.
Okay, the second rule of water fitness attire is, get polyester. I know, just the word brings up fears of pantsuits, Great Uncle Carlos’ impeccably starchy baseball uniform, and unbearably unbreathable socks. But I promise you that in the world of people who swim daily, every other day, or even weekly, you want to be a part of the land that wears polyester. Polyester has twelve hundred times* the lifespan of a nylon suit. Not only does it not become see-through ever, it also takes longer to stretch into the shape of an extra pile of skin you carry around in your swim bag. Polyester is stiff, durable, and once wet, totally comfortable. Make sure you figure out the correct size for yourself, though — a too small or too big suit won’t stretch or cling the way nylon does.
Rule three: silicone caps. These babies, like the polyester suits, are more durable than latex caps, and kinder to your hair to boot! Less of a need for baby powder before you cap yourself, and definitely less hair gets pulled out. As an addendum to this rule, if all you can find or feel comfortable with is a latex cap, then the rule really is use a cap. Chlorine and your hair have a thirteen year old girl relationship — everything seems fine, and then BAM. One day, you find out chlorine has been backstabbing you, manipulating you, and stripping away your color without you ever noticing.
The fourth rule is, find a color you enjoy. This applies to caps, suits, towels, and any other swim equipment. If you like what you’re using, then you’re more likely to want to use it. My favorite swim towel is twenty something years old, and has Kermit the Frog on it. I just like getting out of the pool more when I see it. I’m preferential to black suits, but have been known to go green or purple throughout the years. And caps? Any color. All colors. Just not at the same time. I’m not that wild.
In case you’re not sure where to start looking, check out http://www.swimoutlet.com/. It is by far my favorite purveyor of all things swimmy. They are quick on the shipping, easy to return unused suits to, and they have good descriptions of all the fits of their products. Plus good prices on silcone caps. If you’re feeling sassy, try the grab-bags and see what you get.