Help a guy buy a swim suit.
January 20, 2008 7:07 AM   Subscribe

I need suggestions for a men's swimsuit. I need the advice of the men and the women on this one.

I've recently returned to the pool after a long, long absence. I'm taking a master's swim class (guided, fairly intensive workout to improve endurance, speed and fitness). It's totally kicking my ass, but in a good way. Now I need to suit up properly.

I've got a pair of board shorts I've been wearing, which is great for splashing around in the surf or pool with my kid. But swimming laps? I feel like I'm wearing a sari. Drag-tastic. What's a good pair of trunks that (and here's where I need perspective from both sexes):
- doesn't feel like I'm dragging a cape behind me;
- not a "speedo" (briefs) style, or more generally...
- the thought of which, when worn by a guy in his mid-30s who doesn't look like a swimwear model, does not make you feel like you need to shower.

I'm under no illusion that anyone wants to get too clear an idea of the, ehm... junk in my trunks. Help me strike a balance between practical and tasteful.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Something like Speedo's solid Surfrunner looks balanced. They're loose and only 14" instead of 18" like many trunks.
posted by bonobo at 7:20 AM on January 20, 2008

Maybe this is a good compromise between the speedos and the board shorts?
posted by mpls2 at 7:20 AM on January 20, 2008

Hmm...the Amazon link I gave is for 11" outseam. The SpeedoUSA site has them at 14".
posted by bonobo at 7:21 AM on January 20, 2008

Birdwells. The shorter models are as close to a speedo as you can get without actually wearing spandex. Beach lifeguards (myself included) swear by them.
posted by saladin at 7:34 AM on January 20, 2008 [5 favorites]

When I took a swim class, I used to wear a water polo suit. It reduced drag somewhat without causing embarrassment.
posted by grouse at 7:44 AM on January 20, 2008

Depending on where on the scale between speedo and board shorts you want to fall, these can do nicely too. They are skin tight, and have all the zero drag niceties of a traditional speedo without being nearly so small. If you aren't horribly overweight (doesn't sound like it), they look surprisingly good. If it is a solid black, the "junk" problem is actually pretty small simply because it's hard to pick out in a big field of black.
posted by cschneid at 7:47 AM on January 20, 2008

go to your local nike store, get some running shorts. they look like boxers but are light and extremely short down the legs, so they won't cling to your knees.
posted by krautland at 8:13 AM on January 20, 2008

from a female non-swimmer perspective, the style that mpls2 linked to is hot. I'd skip the ugly prints and go for dark blue or black, though.
posted by desjardins at 8:17 AM on January 20, 2008

Gotta love that Birdwell site!

You said you wanted a word from the women, so here's one. I can't speak to you of drag and package dynamics and whatnot, but in terms of looks I like the type mpls linked you to, seems they are called "square leg" or something.
In the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I am not into the boys "in that way", but I gotta tell you, Daniel Craig in those style shorts in Casino Royal? Impure thoughts...
posted by Iteki at 8:17 AM on January 20, 2008

As a female who has spent time in the pool (for lap swimming) I'd recommend the square leg suits as mpls2 suggested. I love those. Also I like the tight knee length shorts, it reminds me of tri-shorts. Okay and while yeah, I scope out guys in their suits, I'm mostly interested and impressed by their form in the pool.
posted by collocation at 8:19 AM on January 20, 2008

Speedo Jammers. Not a banana hammock, but still 'tight' and fast. I've been wearing this kind of suit for a couple years and wouldn't do anything else.
posted by csimpkins at 8:21 AM on January 20, 2008

Another female non-swimmer. I'm very highly squicked by the type linked by mpls2 that the other gals seemed to like.

If they don't drag too much, I like the Birdwell styles best from an aesthetic point of view.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:37 AM on January 20, 2008

Another female voting in favor of the Birdwells, and saying ew, ew to the ones mpls2 and others liked. Ew!
posted by Enroute at 8:44 AM on January 20, 2008

I like the one mpls2 linked to *depending* on the body type of the guy wearing it. They flatter some more than others.
I would pick the Birdwell's or the Surfrunners. A shorter, more fitted trunk seems like the most universally flattering without being too revealing if that's what you prefer. That's what my boyfriend, an average-sized guy but with thick legs looks best in.
posted by fructose at 8:45 AM on January 20, 2008

Sheesh... this kind of training is what speedos are *for*. As a (former) woman swimmer, I think your fellow swimmers, who will mostly anyway be seeing the top of your head and your goggles, will be able to handle it!
posted by Salamandrous at 8:47 AM on January 20, 2008

Fair enough, Salamandrous. But the primary issue with brief-style trunks is that I detest them.

Thanks to everyone who's chimed in. Don't quit now.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 8:54 AM on January 20, 2008

Female here, and periodic master's swim class participant. I can tell you without a doubt that the women in your class are more worried about their own suits than yours. In fact, unless you are a hairy dude wearing a tiny Speedo while your beer belly cascades over your waistband, we are supremely jealous of the fact that you can throw on a pair of shorts and be done with it. So, anything that says "I am here to swim", and not "I am here to pick up chicks" will be fine.


Keifer seems to have a decent selection. I ordered a gift certificate from them for a Christmas gift, and service was prompt and uneventful. Nice catalog that seems to have even more in it than what is online.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:55 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're over thinking this plate of beans. The thing to do is to go into the closest swim store and tell the person there that you're looking for a modest lap suit without too much drag. They'll probably have some of the longer Speedos listed above, and maybe some other brands, which you can then try on to find one that is comfortable/slightly tight to account for water stretch. Going in with a specific suit in mind is likely to end badly, or at minimum be a waste of planing time, since you still need to try it on and they either won't have it or it would've been the one the clerk recommended anyway.
posted by anaelith at 8:58 AM on January 20, 2008

Thanks to all.

I should've just said at the outset "I dislike for practical or aesthetic reasons most of the men's suits I've seen. I want to swim laps without looking grotesque. Give me some ideas." It's not that I really give a rat's patoot what the other swimmers in the class think, beyond not squicking them (or myself) out. Just wanted a variety of responses, which (as expected) the hive mind has been kind enough to supply.

Oh, and nicely played, SuperSquirrel.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:59 AM on January 20, 2008

I suggest you wear black, some light colored suits really outline certain parts of a man's body. That should take care of your basic concern for others in the class, then focus on getting what's comfortable.
posted by yohko at 10:37 AM on January 20, 2008

Incidentally, why has it become necessary / socially hard-wired for American men to hide the fact that they have genitals? European asking.
posted by A189Nut at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2008

hide the fact that they have genitals? European asking

We're afeared! Scarrrrry.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:09 PM on January 20, 2008

A189Nut: After watching a few episodes of "To Catch a Predator" you'll understand the deep fear/ambivalence the American media has about sex. Men are violent, perpetually-aroused creatures that will rape young children at the drop of a hat.* If they show any sort of attraction or even hint they might have genitalia, you'd better start running.** Hence, men have been forced into pretending they're neutered for fear of scaring innocent women and children.***

*This is sarcasm.
**This is also sarcasm.
***This is the unfortunate truth.
posted by desjardins at 2:55 PM on January 20, 2008

Nthing the square cut option.

A bonus 'feature' about such a training suit (from one who's spent far too much time in the pool,, and now shouts from the deck for a living) is that being mostly nylon/poly they don't shrink, stretch, run, or go baggy. You generally wear 'em until the seams give. Buy one a touch large if you're particularly worried about 'cling' but know that they aren't generally terribly form fitting.

For such items it's often worth making an inquiry with your local team's equipment manager. Ours will often grab something like these indestructible suits when making a team order :
posted by mce at 3:23 PM on January 20, 2008

Seriously? As a swimmer, you look more like a douchebag the further you stray from a nice square leg drag suit (or old-school brief, but with your sartorial prejudices that isn't even a question). Going to swim practice (which is what masters is, not a class) in trunks is like a girl showing up to swim laps in a string bikini: you aren't there to look cute; you are there to work out. Suck it up and wear what real swimmers wear or go back to spinning class.

Yes, this is in a slightly whatever tone, but you seem to need it. You are making yourself more conspicuous, not less, by avoiding workout norms, and you can't seem to get that. Wearing Jammers in practice is also lame; it is not more modest, this skintight thigh covering.
posted by dame at 3:24 PM on January 20, 2008

One more note: if you get a mesh suit that doesn't come with a lining, you really should get a brief to wear under it.
posted by dame at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2008

[dame's comment about workout norms is not true where I swim, so nota bene: not so much with the "you can't seem to get that."
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2008

As a swimmer, you look more like a douchebag the further you stray from a nice square leg drag suit (etc)

Meh. I swim laps for the exercise, not to wonder whether anybody thinks I look like a douchebag. My beach boardies are fine enough for that purpose. Drag is not an issue, because I'm not trying to beat the clock. However, I must say that those Birdwells look like good budgie smugglers. And it's nice that they employed the timecube guy to design their website.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay, I am sorry: If you swim for a club with swimmers as opposed to being a "lap guy," wear a real suit. If you are a lap swimmer all on your own, only the ex-swimmers will mock you sliently.
posted by dame at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2008

That's ok; I'll probably deride their cycling outfits in return.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:00 PM on January 20, 2008

Fair enough. (Hee.)
posted by dame at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2008

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