A friend of mine who was formerly a top class swimmer recently came to me for advice on swimwear. When I say that he was ‘formerly a top class swimmer’ what I mean is that he once represented his country at the Olympic Games. What I mean when I say that he ‘once’ represented his country at the Olympic Games what I mean is that he did it back in 1980 in Moscow – so a very long time ago. My friend hasn’t done much swimming for a very long time and he is certainly not in the shape he once was so he wanted to know what costume he should be buying for his trip to Greece. I gave him some basic advice, which I will repeat here.

Best Practice

Before buying a costume, ask yourself what sort of shape you are in. Once you have an answer, ask yourself where and why you are going swimming. Unless you answer to the second question involves some sort of competitive swimming action, then all else is irrelevant. In other words, no matter how good you think you look, if you aren’t swimming competitively then keep it simple, buy some boardies online and be done with it. Buy yourself a couple of pairs, but keep it real and create something of a sense of mystery.

Bad Ideas

Call it what you will. A Speedo. A tanga. A mankini. A Banana-hammock. We don’t live in 1975 anymore and regardless of the state of your body nobody wants to see you in a costume that looks like your cycling shorts shrunk in the wash. It’s bad on so many levels, not only is it very likely to leave the ladies on the beach feeling awkward, it also exposes far too much of your flesh to the fierce rays of the sun. Hardly any of you is protected and it’s just going to hurt in the morning.


Obviously if you are going to be swimming competitively you can wear the lycra, it goes without saying. The other notable exception is when you are going to be wearing a wetsuit as well. If you are surfing or diving baggy shorts make it very difficult to slip into wetsuit so it’s perfectly okay to don the Speedo in that situation.

It’s also okay to don a Speedo if you are older than 70 and have been wearing one all your life. There’s a certain expectation that gentlemen of a certain age are going to go there and that they are going to do so because the habits of a lifetime are just too difficult to change. But being old is an excuse that only works for the elderly. If you are of a younger generation and you wore a Speedo in your youth, that’s okay. If you felt good in it when parading around the pool at the Olympics that’s also okay. But fashions change and bodies that looked good in tiny costumes in 1980 probably don’t hold as much appeal some 40 years later. Don’t go there.