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So I had to buy a new Speedo. The one I’ve had has lasted me for about four years and in bathing suit years that’s probably five generations. I mean, this is the Speedo that wouldn’t quit. Didn’t get see-through, until recently, didn’t lose its tightness – or compression as it’s called technically – also until very recently.

So until very recently, it didn’t occur to me that I might have to deal with this problem. But there’s been a lot of drag when I swim recently, and the stiching’s starting to come out on some of the seams, so as I was in London recently, where they have actual shops, I thought, I’ll do the sensible thing and get a new suit when I’m there.

The minute I think of this kind of sensible plan is the minute it begins to go wrong.

I was tired (read: slightly hungover) and not at my best. But it was early, and my friend decided it would be okay for me to go because the children wouldn’t be up yet. Which would save me from having to beat them all.

Off I went on the tube to Westfield at Stratford City. This is key: this is where the London Olympics were held. Remember that.

I had looked on a map of the mall, so I knew where the Speedo shop was, thus ensuring that I did not have to wander around and gather my rage. The shop was tiny, but the suit I wanted was The Classic so I figured they’d have it because it would be like going to a supermarket – even a shitty little Tesco and finding they didn’t have eggs or bread.

It’s not that they didn’t have the suit I wanted, but rather that the suit I wanted is apparently obsolete now.

I know. I don’t understand that either. But there you go.

Swimming, according to the wisdom of Speedo, has now been divided into two factions: people who want to get fit, and people who compete. I am neither of these people. I am an ex-competitor and I suppose I want to continue to be fit-ish, if that means my back doesn’t hurt.

The suits for the people who want to get fit offer ‘good coverage’ and ‘bust support’. They also come in jaunty colours and designs. Who thinks: I want good coverage when buying a Speedo? That is not the point of that suit. It keeps your bits to yourself, and it’s tight so you don’t have to swim any harder than necessary, and as for bust support, a good swim suit ought to be tight enough that the idea of bust support goes out the window. The mighty Speedo flattens you. Because: drag.

The competition suits are even worse. Well, they are and they aren’t. They’re about a hundred pounds more expensive, which is not good, and there’s a lot more suit in the suits these days. Legs, a zip up the full back. I can’t cope with that much suit. If I wanted to wear a wetsuit I would. I’m not trying to show off my amazing physique, I just don’t like having anything more than necessary touch me in the water.

My last Speedo had a back cut really low, just barely above the hip bones. The front bit wasn’t too high in the armpits so there was no chaffing on a longer swim. The legs were’ crazy 1980s aerobics high, but they weren’t Victorian either.

I hemmed and hawed as the man in the shop tried to regale me with all the many advantages. They were not what I would’ve considered features, selling points, or advantages. What the hell do I care what it looks like? I don’t need a flashy design. I need the stupid thing to work.

When he realised I didn’t like anything in his shop, he suggested I go down to the pool because they have a shop there now. Which I might’ve done except for the fact that I was getting ragey and already at the shopping mall where one expects to be able to buy what one has come out to buy.

Anyhow, I had to get a new suit and this was my chance. So I bought the one closest to what I had before. I even had to try the stupid thing on – something I haven’t done since I was 16 because I know my size. It is the same size now as it was then. But not any more! Speedo have changed that too!

It felt not quite right in the shop, but it had fewer things that were annoying about it than the other ones, so I bought it. I took it for a test run today.

Grim! Dire!

So much drag! I felt the back flapping in the slip stream! The legs pinch because they weren’t cut high enough, and the armpits rubbed. I was in the water for an hour and I had red marks under my arms when I got out.


Needless to say I’m up in arms about this, but there’s not much I can do. I refuse flat out to wear anything Nike makes, on principle, and the only other suit I’ve ever worn – once, under duress – was a TYR. They’re okay, but they’re not a Speedo.

Speedo is what proper swimmers wear. It’s what I grew up in. It’s my second skin. The Mom often complains about the figure she cuts in any of her twenty bathing suits, but me, I know what I look like in my Speedo and I’m good with that. I could lounge around – and have done – for days in the damned thing. If you told me I couldn’t wear anything else in this life but a Speedo the only complaint I’d have is that it’s tricky to get off when you have to go to the bathroom, but that’s it.

That is a very serious lack of complaints on my part and I can find fault with just about everything.

And now I have to add my Speedo to the list.