10 July 2010


For about a year now I've been wanting to go swimming. We went to a lake last year for S's family reunion and I remembered how much I used to love playing in the water. Thing is, I didn't have a swimsuit. Well, I did but it was too small. I tried it on and encountered the maximum stretch capacity in spandex/lycra. Believe me, it wasn't a pretty picture. And as much as I used to love trying on swimsuits I just couldn't get the energy together to go shopping for one. My body had changed and I didn't really like to face the reality of that. I had bought only two over the years, specifically for taking the boys to school field trips or supervise a birthday party at the pool. I didn't like the ones I'd bought as they were throwaway suits: they kept me covered so I could get in the pool. I don't even remember enjoying trying them on or picking them out, they just appeared in my drawer at home.

Before I was around 15 I would have a new swimsuit just about every year. I could even rattle off a list and description of each suit I owned and where I swam in it. Even the shopping for a new suit was something I loved. The smell of new suits was intoxicating and the new designs were thrilling. I'd go and try them on just for fun. I remember the last suit I tried on as a teen, it was a basic shape with a medium cut on the leg. The design was thick stripes in a V pattern alternating black and royal blue. It was fantastic! My little teen body looked incredibly good in the pattern, it made my figure look more of an hourglass and the V made me look a bit longer or taller. I stood in the change room admiring my cuteness when it struck me that I had nobody to go swimming with any more. My one swimming friend was no longer my friend, and when I took a hard look at the other people I knew I realized I didn't know anybody that liked to swim. And as silly as it seems now, I was terrified of going by myself. So I put the swimsuit back and put away my love of swimming. I can count on one hand the number of times I went swimming after that, almost always with children.

Children. That was my hurdle over the last year. We don't have a beautiful lake that I can get to within a half hour here in the city which leaves City pools to swim in. City pools mean public property. Public includes children. Children in diapers, children with runny noses, vomiting children, and fussy, screaming children. And preteens! Flailing about in the water as if they are the only ones there. Churning up the water so it's impossible not to be splashed or hit by a stray limb. And teens! Strutting about eying each other and sizing each other up. Judgment oozing from their pores. Obviously this is a generalization, but you get the picture. Imagine my delight when S said he used to go to the adult swim time. Adult swim? Really? I checked the pool schedule and there it was: adult swim Fridays 10pm-12am. Somehow I missed noticing that in searching the schedule for times my boys could go swimming over the past few summers.

Now, the trick was a swimsuit. I finally got my act together yesterday and really looked for a suit. I had tried on a couple over the last year but was unhappy at the result. I noticed that my formerly firm body had become squishy and spandex doesn't accommodate squish very well. The first one I tried on brought the reality of my new shape - potato. Yes, potato. No discernible waist, no butt (ok, I never really had much in the bum department), bigger potbelly than I remembered, boobs squished into the chest wall, and basic lumpy bumpiness. What I needed in a suit was fabric with no give, boning, underwire, and thick lining. That way I could just pour the gooey into the suit and still look good. Well, just the part covered by the suit would look good, the rest of me would still be lumpy, bumpy, gooey, squishy and jiggly.

After trying on more suits I realized that when the manufacturers said 'built in support' for the bra, they meant only for women of an A cup or less. Did I mention mine are in the DD range? The 'bra' was just two lined cuplettes that hid nipples and squeezed the rest of the breast out the sides. Trust me, that was not as attractive as you might think. I found one suit with hidden underwire but the rest of the suit was made for someone with a much longer torso so it bagged at the crotch, the waist was at my hip and the chest support was down around my waist causing the straps to strain to hold up my boobs. So that was not the suit for me. Oh, and I was looking specifically for a one-piece. No way I'm getting into a bikini, and a tankini just didn't feel like a proper swimsuit to me.

I suppose I could have paid over a hundred dollars for a suit and gone to a specialty store or a high end department store. But I'm cheap so I knew my choices would be a bit limited. I thought if I go swimming a lot then I can justify the cost of a good suit, but first I just need something acceptable to wear to the pool. I ended up at Winners where I found a Fantasizer suit that had odd stitching on the sides proclaiming that it will make your waist and hip look one size smaller. There was only one of it and it was in my size so it came with me to the change room. Surprisingly it actually did give me a bit more of a ladylike shape and a bit less of the potato shape, so even though I found the design to be boring, I took it home.

Then, we went swimming. For the first time in ages I went swimming in a city pool without my boys or being obligated to supervise at a children's pool party. And it was fun :) I can't swim, not really, but it was fun to just move around in the pool and swim as best as I could. One fantastic thing is that I could wear my glasses! It didn't occur to me to do that when I was young. When I had to supervise at a school field trip to the pool it was required that I get in the pool and be able to see the kids, so I kept my glasses on. S told me he always wore his glasses when swimming, but I don't know why I never thought of it. Being able to see was definitely a bonus :) There was also a hot tub that we tried out but I found it a bit too hot after only a minute or two. I wouldn't even go into the steam room. Last time I tried that I remember feeling like I was choking and I really prefer being able to breathe freely.

It was good to see a very wide selection of people at the pool as well. There were other Potato People and Potbellied Men. There were also Potbellied Speedo Men, Bikini Women and Very Large People but there was no ogling, staring, nudging and whispering, pointing and laughing or general Meat Market activities. I don't know if my perception has changed or if I imagined it all before but it was nice to just swim without feeling judged.

You know what feeling I had completely forgotten? Gravity. I didn't realize how slow I had been becoming, how gently I've been treating my joints, how carefully I've been moving to avoid injury. I'm only 40 but I seem to move like I'm 60. But in the pool I'm weightless :) I feel like I did at 10 - easy, flexible and free. I'll be going swimming again next Friday :)

1 comment:

The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

glad you went and got a bathing suit! you always loved swimming.

i also had the fun experience of finding a suit back when i was a teacher (teachers don't get to just sit on the sidelines anymore). i finally settled on a suit with 2 layers. the bottom layer was tight spandex. the top layer, which was bigger and longer than the bottom layer and draped like a dress, was made of fine mesh and skimmed the body - creating an illusion of smoothness.

the hardest part for me was getting over the idea that i would put on a suit and magically look like kim kardashian. i'm still not totally over it - i want MAGIC.