In the Swim
Have You Got Your Personal Aquatic System?
M. L. Faunce
Basic black, my friend announced with desperation. Im just looking for a basic black bathing suit.
When I suggested a Speedo, the suit I prefer for swimming laps, she went on to describe the suit she desired: Something more stylish: a slightly low-cut top, but no French-cut bottoms.
My Polish legs, she explained.
For women at least, finding just the right swimsuit is a rite of summer.
Swimsuits start showing up in stores in February: good timing for the cruise set, but much too early for gals in Bay country still cruising for winter clothes bargains at the Presidents Day sales.
Around that time of year on a trip to Florida, my sister-in-law and I checked out rows of the latest swimwear. No black suits here, but we loved the colors: aquamarine blues and greens in cool tropical patterns, and especially this years soft, spongy fabrics. Niece Katie oohhed and ahhhed over the two-piece jobs, supple little shirt-like tops and comfy looking shorts. So we too jumped in, grabbing up several to try on, admiring the loose fit of the tops, the smooth taper of the bottoms.
Everyone knows that when you take a swimsuit off the rack, you pick the next size up since suits always run small, right? Whos fooling who? But slipping into the suits that looked light and lively (and loose on the mannequin) turned out to be a squeeze job, bringing gusts of laughter from my sister-in-law and howls from my side of the curtain. Even 10-year-old Katie, a swim team favorite, couldnt find the right trim fit.
So went the seasons first bathing suit expedition. So it goes every year, admitted my sister-in-law, the daughter of an Olympic synchronized swimmer from the 40s when swimmers kept their heads out of water and suits were a fashion statement.
I guess Ill be wearing my old black suit from last year and the year before, she allowed.
None of this news cheered my friend. Still bereft of a new suit, she fell to reminiscing over a string of favorites over the years. I couldnt resist adding a story about my own favorite suit when I was about Katies age.
My mother, a discerning shopper, paid a hefty price for it at Woodward and Lothrop, the venerable, now-deceased Washington department store. It was a Navy blue sailor swimsuit with a white pleated skirt, and my mother and I proclaimed it the best suit ever.
I wore that prized suit on our next family outing to Chesapeake Beach, first in the saltwater pool, and later in the Bay, walking for miles it seemed until the water was deep enough to swim. When I waded back to shore, the white skirt had turned brown and all my cousins laughed as I walked out.
That was our first lesson on why white suits in the silty Bay arent a great idea.
Now its many Junes later, and my friend is still looking for a suit. As for me, I picked up yet another Speedo: no French cut, no fashion statement, but a comfy blue suit great for swimming laps. I did notice something different when snipping the label off my new Speedo. Personal aquatic system, the tag read.
So if youre still looking for swimwear this summer, remember to avoid white if youre going to swim in the Bay. And if those two-piece numbers dont do you justice, just remember, you wont be the only one wearing your personal aquatic system from last year or the year before.