The Skirtless Life

I wrote the following letter to Speedo a few years ago. I thought I’d reprint the letter here and give you an update on living the skirtless life.

Dear Speedo,

Let me introduce myself: I’m a 31-year-old woman with a big crush on swimming. And it’s all my mom’s fault. She passed on her love of the water to me, so I’ve been playing in pools, wading in the ocean, and running through sprinklers in the middle of July pretty much all of my life.

Circa 1982

There’s just one little problem: I’m super self-conscious in my swimsuit. So in order for me to buy a swimsuit, it must meet the following requirements:

  • Coverage–Lots and lots of coverage. And by lots of coverage, I mean it must include a sewn-on skirt. Please and thank you.
  • Price–Reasonably priced because chlorine and the sun are hard on colors.
  • Style–As Sandra Bullock says in The Blindside, “If you don’t absolutely love it in the store, you won’t wear it when you get home.” And Sandy B is right.

So while you might think the world will finally find peace before I find a reasonably priced, modest, yet awesomely cute swimsuit, I can prove you wrong. I’ve been doing it for the last ten years, at least. My latest number is a brown suit, skirt included, with turquoise polka dots. My credit card didn’t smoke when I bought it. And it’s got beach babe written all over it.

But then I decided to start fitness swimming again. And herein lies my issue: You don’t wear swimsuits with skirts sewn on to practice because skirts create drag in the water. And swim practice is all about moving down the lane with accuracy and speed.

I figured I was crazy to try and find a plus-sized swimsuit in the dead of winter, but I truly, madly, deeply wanted back in the water, so I called up my good friend, Amazon, and lo and behold, I found you: Speedo Aquatic Xtra Life Lycra Conservative Ultraback Swimsuit.

Not me, but you get the picture.

I read the sales pitch:

This suit is an excellent choice for aquatic aerobics, lap swimming, or tanning poolside. The core solid ultraback suit in a conservative cut for maximum coverage is one of Speedo’s best selling styles and features feathered edge soft cup bra construction for support that is smooth and comfortable. It also has our very popular ultraback styling for an extremely comfortable fit. Fabrication is Xtra Life Lycra, designed to resist the harmful effects of chlorine and sunlight which results in a suit that lasts 5-10 times longer than conventional swimwear. Look and feel your best as you compete, train for health, relax or have fun in Speedo, the world’s #1 swim brand! Designed for aquatic fitness, the Ultrablock Conservative swimsuit from Speedo® features a chlorine-resistant Antron® nylon/Lycra® spandex construction. Wide straps provide a comfortable and non-slip fit for optimum freedom of movement. This suit features a built-in soft cup construction for support and extra shaping.

Speedo, you had me at maximum coverage. And I have to admit, chlorine-resistant and extra shaping didn’t hurt either. I opted for the navy; I was worried the black might be a little too reminisce of Shamu. And two days later (oh, I love you, you glorious two-day shipping), I ripped open the box and gasped. The suit was so tiny, the only reasonable explanation was that it had been run through a food dehydrator. But, I prayed for a miracle and tried to defy gravity; several minutes later the unthinkable happened–I had the suit on. I stood, staring at myself in the mirror. I looked like a real swimmer, no doubt. But could I ever go without a skirt in public?

I paced around my apartment, wearing the suit, talking to my mom on the phone. She kept telling me it was fine, and to wear it, and that no one would be looking at me. But I had some serious doubts. The first day of swim practice came, and I was too chicken to go. But by the second day of swim practice, and a good 900 minutes later of phone time with my mom, I just did it. And Speedo, I have to say, you nailed your sales pitch. The suit, albeit non-skirt, has a ton of coverage and shaping in all the right places. The navy is gorgeous, and the ultraback straps make moving down the lane comfortable. I’ve worn my suit several times now, and each time the experience is a little easier on my self-esteem and less gravity-defying for my body.

Here’s to our new-found friendship,

Skirtless in Austin

Living Skirtless

I went on to wear multiple Speedo racerbacks and find myself in the pool most mornings. There really is no stronger way to start the day – pulling myself down the swim lane, proud of my body. These days, though, you can find me in Catalina one pieces because they are less expensive and year-round swimming requires lots of skirtless swimsuits! No matter how you feel in a swimsuit, I say go for it! Swimsuits and swimsuit styles may come and go, but the strength you’ll gain from swimming lasts a lifetime.

whit.bates@gmail.com

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