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As far as I’m concerned, bathing suits are the problem. Bathing suits shouldn’t even exist. You should be bathing (or sunbathing?) naked (or slathered with sunscreen.) A bathing suit implies that it has no functionality, just pure decoration and I just cannot tolerate that. Swimsuits, on the other hand!

Different styles (bi-, tri-, tank-, mono-, bandeau- kinis, one piece, trunks) have different advantages and disadvantages, but whatever you’re wearing, swimming is not a sport for the meek. Frolic in near-nakedness and risk confronting rocks large and small, aggressive birds, corrosive salt, foul-smelling lake mud, toxic chemical runoff, chlorine and child urine, broken glass, lifeguards, brutal sun or fluorescent lights, thunderstorms, other humans. Choose whichever suit shape that will protect you from the elements and enable you to do whatever you are already doing, but better.

I’ll neither forgive nor forget a particular strapless two-piece whose top couldn’t hold tight enough against relatively small waves and whose bottom filled with sand and sagged like a big, wet diaper. Is there a worse feeling than a wet, sand-filled crotch?

Inevitably, some swimwear will wilt, melt, or mangle when it meets the water. Whites and yellows may become transparent (I do not unilaterally oppose transparency, but its something to consider.)

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Here is a suit that has already begun the work of dissolving.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.21.25 AMThis specimen looks water-soluble and if you attempt a dive wearing this, you will come out wearing a rainbow tangle.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.24.24 AMExtra flaps of fabric, excessive fringe, and bundles of tulle seem designed to give sharks (or rip tides, whatever) a bit more surface area for their teeth.

Patterns and colors, whether they be mimicry, camouflage, neon, or just confusing to look at, are a good weapon to consider, as well. I took swimming lessons as a child and the peak of my swimming lesson career was the year my little sister and I got matching solid, fluorescent pink bathing suits from Land’s End. There was something so joyous about wearing such an eye-bending shade of pink to the pool.

Something substantial, but not burdensome is ideal. No need to weigh yourself down with snakeskin buckles, gold leather belts, or heavy hardware. But maybe not so water repellent as to actually be rubber. Definitely no denim. Is there a lining? Do you care?

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Two summers ago I was constantly jealous of a friend’s tiny pair of grey swimtrunks that were short and extremely quick-drying. I spent a soggy-bottomed hour trying to imagine that windbreaker-y material into the one piece of my fantasies. I could not dream it up, but I hope someday someone will.

Under no circumstances should you accept pinching or sagging. Side ties are uncomfortable and unreliable.

Be not afraid of:

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1. Cradling

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2. Cupping

Nor boosting, nor swaddling. They are your friends.

Endure no twisting, tugging, hiking, yanking, adjusting, or wrenching as part and parcel of suit-wearing.

Let us stand in opposition to anything called like “miraclesuit” or “tummy tamer” and anything that claims to “break up torso” because WTF, gross, and a real miracle is not having to compress your organs before appearing in public. The existence of a pancreas and a liver is miracle enough.

I was on swim team once and the fashionable thing to do was to layer multiple speedos, all two sizes too small, to add drag during practices. I still remember just how uncomfortable it was to shimmy into those ultra-tight suits that always seemed to be cut a little too high across the hips and backside. Unless you’re training for an athletic event, I can’t recommend speedos or sizing down.

Although, I have considered the fact that a very tight fit could mean less sand in the crotch panel. In that case, acceptable.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.33.13 AMIf you can’t find a suitable suit, fuck it. Skinny dipping is better anyways. You can even find some things to wear that seem like a decent compromise between covering yourself and being completely free from the oppression of clothing: mesh! zippers for liberating your top half! I am not going to link to crotchless swimsuits, but I trust that they also exist.

One of the best feelings I ever felt when I was seventeen was wearing a “modest” tankini chosen by by mother from a store for middle aged women and rolling up the top to expose my belly while floating in the sea. My belly got burned and it felt great. I remember going to the super-air conditioned movies later that night and lifting up my shirt to see the hot pink and white lines.

Exactly none of my favorite swimming experiences revolve around swimsuits. I can’t remember what I wore that one time my grandma took me to Popham beach and told me to put my hands in the water first and the rest of my body would adjust to the icy temperature. I can’t remember what I was wearing when my mom told me the sunscreen was princess makeup so I would stop whining. I can remember what I was not wearing when I first saw bioluminescence in the icy Maine ocean waters.

In the end, there is much to be said for simplicity. Get a black tank suit and keep it in the back of your car or the bottom of your bag. Or don’t, and let that be its own excuse for a swim.

Corinne Fay grew up in Maine and doesn't care what you wear swimming.

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