Friday, 5 April 2013

Costumes present

I am terribly uncool. Cool people get sent free stuff, and I never get sent free stuff. I mean, why would I? But about a month ago, I became a little bit cool. (I'm aware this is like your mum saying 'my bad' then grinning at you all pleased with herself. I ask your kind forbearance.) The PR for Speedo found me, via Twitter I think, and offered me a free costume if I’d take part in their game, a game called We Give You a Free Swimming Costume and You Review It. 
(OK so officially they asked if I would ‘take part in the Keep Going Swim after Swim Challenge and test our long lasting Endurance+ swimwear’, but my version is snappier.)

It made me feel, for about ten minutes, that I was totally a key player. They were an amazing ten minutes. Power went to my head. I fired some people. (My children.) Then I remembered that on this blog I wrote, in dead seriosity, how I worry that wearing a costume with Speedo on it might be contravening the Trades Description Act. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating swimwear called Slowlio. And yes, the S DID once peel off one of my costumes…

I told them this. It didn't put them off. The rules of the game, said Speedo’s PR, were that I had to pledge to swim 20 times in 30 days and review it under certain categories (we’ll get to them). I countered with my own rules. First: I would swim as much as I wanted, and if the weather was truly shit or I didn’t feel like it, I wouldn’t do 20 times. Second: I would follow their categories, but I would be totally upfront about accepting a free costume. Thirdly, I would be direct. If I didn’t like it, I would say.  I’m not for sale, the Maaaaaan.

From this you can see how I went, in the space of about twenty minutes  from being a powerful mogul who fires people, to some kind of stoner loser from a bad 80s movie. Tragic.

Oh, a final thing I pointed out to them. I already wear Speedo most of the time. 

The impressive thing is that even though I am hardly the most amenable of dates, they didn’t give up in exasperation. 

Anyway. They sent the costume, with a free swim hat and a pair of goggles. I was a bit disappointed – it was a cheap costume, I thought I was going to get something wildly out my league. Something carved out of GOLD. And I had told them I was going to be direct, so I was: I cannot wear these goggles, I said. I have the wrong shaped face. I will stick with my own goggles. ‘Forget the goggles’ they said, backing away rapidly, with a clear subtext of ‘get your wrong shaped face out of ours’. I did not feel the need to roadtest the swim hat. A swim hat is a swim hat, and I shunned their discreet black one in preference for my own BRIGHT YELLOW one that SHOUTS: COLD WATER SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS. I am nothing if not subtle.

The picture above is me, in the suit of promo, taken by Warren King (@warrenking) at Charlton Lido - swim 15 out of 20. You can see I'm not lying about the yellow hat and the large goggles. You can also see the costume. I think it looks (shrugs) OK. It's a flippin freezing day, and my smile says 'make this quick, and make it kind.' Speedo PR asked me to judge this costume in three specific areas. I’ve been as honest as you would expect of me:

Them: Endurance+ fabric is longer lasting with 20 times more fade resistance than conventional elastane swimwear, with improved snag resistance. Did you find the swimwear to be more resilient?

Me: No. Not ‘more resilient’. I wouldn’t expect a costume to fade or show signs of wear after 20 swims. I didn’t snag it, but I don’t think I’ve ever, in all my life ‘snagged’ a costume. How does one even do that? There are rarely sharp snaggy things in pools. But what I did find was that when I was doing swim training,  an hour of fast laps, the seams  where the colour strips down each side were sewn in, rubbed. I have photographic evidence, but I’m sparing you. I ended up with striations down each side. They irritated my skin, basically. If I was on a real endurance swim, that would make things very sore. But I am quite sensitive (I KNOW!).

Them: Endurance+ fabric is 100% chlorine resistant and contains no elastane, so it will not degrade in chlorinated water. Did you find the fabric retained its colour /quality compared to your normal swimwear?

Me: Well, here's the thing. My normal swimwear is Speedo Endurance. And I certainly wouldn’t expect a brand like Speedo to lose its colour after twenty swims. It started off as a very soft fabric and lost that quite quickly though. It also was not flattering in the bosom department, and my god I need help there. Lovely shape generally, though. And it ‘looked good in the pool’ said my very supportive friend.

Them: Endurance+ fabric is quick drying as it has a lower level of moisture absorption. Did your Speedo Endurance+ swimsuit dry quicker than your normal swimsuit?  

Me: My oh my, it DOES dry quickly! You can almost practically wring it dry. About as much as my existing Speedo Endurance costume. It’s also the kind of fabric that you can put on a bit damp (meh, it happens every now and again) and it doesn’t feel shuddery.

Verdict overall? They asked the wrong questions for only 20 swims. But still: the way I’ve written it allows them to get their message across about Endurance + three times, and I’ve got a new costume with itchy bits. So we can all be ‘reasonably’ happy. 

And in homage to Leanne Shapton’s lovely book, Swimming Studies, the following photos are my swimming costumes so far in 2013.

Promo suit back
Promo suit front
1) The suit we shall call 'promo'. 
With the Stripes of Evil down each side. Nice back, but any outdoor swimmer will tell you that you have to choose your summer costumes VERY carefully, to get the required tan lines exactly right. Apart from aforementioned seams, this is a great comfy fit but the wrong back for me in Summer. I note, too, while photographing my cossies that it's the only one without front lining. Which could explain the naff bosom thing. I wouldn't  knowingly pick a pink trim, either. Not for any anti-girly thing but er, that, probably. 

Hot suit front
Hot suit back

2) The hot suit
No, not because it makes me look hot. There is much psychology involved in cold water swimming. The psychology involved in this costume says ‘These longer legs will keep you toasty warm.’ As if. But they do mean you don’t have to shave your bits all winter unless, well, wow, your pubes grow right down your leg that far.

Aus costume back
Aus costume front
3)  The Aus costume. I bought this costume in Melbourne last Easter. It is one year old, I wore it all last year. Great colours, eh. From it I learned that I’m a little longer in the body than your average Oz woman (oooch, hunch those shoulders), it’s a pain to wiggle in and out of and if I had boobs I reckon they’d pop right out the top. But it holds me in well and I love the shape and colour of it. Tricksy back for a summer outdoor swimmer, though, but thin straps. We like thin straps. 

Sauna costume back
Sauna costume front
4) The sauna costume
Now, check the back of this one out - this is what I mean about a good swimming back for the summer tan. (I'm not obsessed. (I am a bit. I admit. Blame the 70s. ) This one has now been relegated to wearing in the sauna - it's knackered, a bit out of shape and the colour has faded. It's from the Speedo 'Sculpture' range even though I don't have the kind of body that needs sculpture. My friend Jackie has the same one and it looks a million times better on her (I look like the twin deprived of sustenance in the womb). 
But I love the shape of this one, it's very easy to get on and off, very very comfy. THE SEAMS DON'T RUB! 

Really what I want is a halterneck, Speedo. A halterneck for flatchested birds, that I can train in. If you wouldn't mind ...