or, how to tell if you need a new suit and what to do about it:
Early warning – it feels fine when you put it on, but seems a little looser than usual after getting wet. You might want to look it over. Closely. In the mirror. While wearing it wet.
You see some striation of the material. Time to start shopping
The outer material is no longer speaking to the inner lining – they should be as one. You really need to start shopping. Obviously this only applies to lined suits.
You feel something tickling the back of your thighs, and it’s the butt of your suit. Whoops – ‘cause by now, your suit probably isn’t doing a great job of keeping things hidden, OR in their proper places.
Believe me, I’ve seen all of the above. If you swim regularly, you probably have, too.
More subtle clues:
You get odd, sometimes pitying, looks as you walk along the deck
The lifeguards look away – or anywhere other than your suit. Or they can’t help BUT look at your suit. Maybe with a look of astonishment, embarrassment, unbridled lust or disgust… you get the picture (for better or worse).
I go through a lot of suits, and I like to have back-ups on hand. Or I should say I used to go through a lot of them until I stumbled upon suits made from tougher materials, which kind of takes the fun out of my SAD (Swimsuit Acquisition Disorder). On the other hand, it’s a lot cheaper. Now I get bored with my suits before they wear out. There are a lot of fun styles and patterns, and you can pay a lot for them. Or not. It depends on how particular you are about getting a specific design. I don’t like to pay $70+, so I search around for options, and increase my tolerance for “not me” colors. I’m still a snob about certain brands, though. I just can’t help it.
TJ MAXX, Marshalls – not reliable stock, but sometimes they have Speedo, TYR and Nike brands, and when they have them, they’re cheap.
AGONSWIM – they mainly do team suits and make extras so the grab bag option is great if you like the excitement of not knowing what you’ll get (beyond style and material). It’s like Christmas! Or your birthday! The grab bag suits are about ½ the price of choosing your own print which I find very inviting. There are a lot of options for styles and materials, so the site can be a little overwhelming. I’ve had good luck with their customer service when I’ve needed to return items. Last time I ordered from Agonswim, I found that the lycra suits wore out quicker than I expected, though. I’m thinking of giving them another try, but this time I’ll get Duramax or MaxResist material. If you go with one of the tougher materials, you might have to order a size bigger due to less stretch in the fabric.
METRO SWIM SHOP and SWIM OUTLET – very similar in terms of price and offerings. I’m often enticed by a featured suit (on sale, of course) only to find out that they don’t have my size. Grr. But persevere – the deals are there. At $28-$35 for a Speedo, Tyr, or Nike, it’s worth it. And they often have other brands for even less.
Regular store – WAY too expensive for me. I’m not spending $70 or more! Keep an eye out for sales, though – I hear they happen.
I could go on and on about swim suits and the various styles, but I’ll save that for another time. Oh, just one other thing: if you’re competing, make sure the suit you buy is legal for your event. FINA-governed competitions do not allow suits with zippers or clips, for instance. There are rules about materials and lengths and coverage and… you name it!
Happy swimming (and shopping)!