By Andrea Petrou
A little while ago I decided it was time to rid myself of the growing love handles (the joys of working from home) and hit the local pool. Dressed in my no nonsense Speedo swimming cozzie and mentally congratulating myself at getting halfway through my first length I was rudely interrupted by the man in front of me stopping suddenly. So much so that if we’d been in cars there would have been a serious clash of metal and full blown arguments.
So what had made him stop? A heart attack? Or perhaps that pesky swimming stitch you get when you decide to go full throttle on a rather bloated stomach? Or maybe the poor man was having trouble breathing. Either one would have been equally acceptable, but looking up I realised the real reason for the collision, which involved far too much skin contact deemed acceptable for a leisurely weekday swim, was the itsy bitsy bikini wearing Baywatch barbie that had just stepped in from the grimy changing rooms.
Posing and preening in her glorious polka dot (I kid you not) bit of rag complete with little bows, she painted a farcical picture amongst the grey and 60s styling of the pool, but she seemed selfishly oblivious to her surroundings.
Like a mythical siren from Greek literature she had managed to stop every single man, each of whom were doing a very good impression of a gaping swimming pool drain, in their front crawl tracks. Not only were these men close to drowning (it’s never a good idea to open your mouth when you’re immersed in water) but their sudden swimming strike was inconveniencing us serious female fitness fanatics.
If it had not been an offence you can be sure we all would have lynched her. Maybe that’s going a bit too far. Considering where we were, drowning would have been a better option.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fuddy duddy granny who can’t bear bikinis and this isn’t a piece fuelled by jealousy. I’ll happily don one on the beach. Afterall we’ve fought to be able to wear them since they first crashed into French fashion in 1946.
French fashion historian Olivier Saillard got it spot on when he said: “The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women.”
Designed by French engineer Louis Réard, the beachwear, was named after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, the site of the Operation Crossroads nuclear weapon tests in July that year. The reasoning behind the name was that the burst of excitement created by it would be like a nuclear device. However, I don’t think the genius designer could have known how much of an explosion it has made, especially when it comes to my war against public pool bikini abusers.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if, after their grand entrance these bikini bunnies actually swam, but no, that’s far too much to ask. Instead they incessantly pose, taking great delight in the attention they attract and stand giggling with their bikini buddies while blocking our safe shallow end haven.
But is there any pool rule against this. Amongst the signs of “no heaving petting” “no spitting” and “no diving” is there anything that says “no Barbies bearing bikinis blocking serious swimmers”? Like heck there is. That would ruin the male life guard’s fun.
I asked my local government run leisure centre what their take on this trend was. A spokesman for the organisation told me: “We allow any type of swimwear as long as it’s deemed respectable, doesn’t offend and is safe for swimming in.”
And what exactly would the centre class as offensive? G-strings and “those new see-through creations.”
However, just because a leisure centre deems it acceptable it doesn’t make it right. In my eyes there’s a time and place for everything (take note Jordan) and wearing a bikini in a public swimming pool is as wrong as Cheryl Cole’s David Koma dress, or a pair of winter crocs complete with socks . With perfectly acceptable sensible swimwear out there no one needs to bare all at the local pool.