Also known as togs in Queensland and cossies in Sydney. Or swimsuits in other parts of the world. I might not know a lot about kayaks but I’m on home turf here. When I wrote this I owned nine pairs of bathers. The tally’s 11 now.
I have three pairs of Speedos, one TYR, one Baku, four Zoggs, one Ada and one PoolProof. Each pair has it’s own purpose – sea only, pool, or ‘best kept out of sight under a wetsuit’. I also have something called an AquaBra, not technically bathers but a very useful piece of equipment if bikini tops don’t work for you. Just for the record, I am size 12-14, 75 kg and 171 cm tall.
How to look after your bathers and get maximum life span out of them? It’s not rocket science, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I rinse mine out as soon as I can, usually in the rinse cycle of the washing machine and occasionally in a mild detergent such as TogWash. To avoid snagging, be careful resting your bum against the rough surface of tiles or concrete at the end of the pool in between laps.
My criteria for a good pair of bathers are:
1. Good “bust” support.
2. Ample body length.
3. No “boy legs”, a bit of shape but not super high cut.
4. Prefer power back style for pool bathers.
5. Chlorine resistant and able to last for a year or more in the pool swimming two or three times a week.
6. Preferably lined.
Unreservedly, my favourites are Speedos. Speedos have the most amazing range of styles which can hold their head up high in the pool or on the beach, they are well designed and comfortable but most importantly, Speedos last. This is because they are made from a 50:50 mix of polyester and PBT polyester for extremely good resistance to chlorine. Speedo market this fabric as their “Endurance” range. PBT snags the least so is also likely to last a bit longer in this respect. It is very light but is considered a little stiffer than Lycra, which has more stretch.
If you welcome the opportunity to but a new pair of bathers regularly because your old ones are wearing out, don’t buy Speedos. I generally pay around $80 but have picked them up much cheaper on-line or on special at the pool. Made in China and Sri Lanka.
Zoggs. I have Cottesloes, the power back version has a shelf but not the flyback. This design has had very good reviews on the Wiggle website. Neither pair is lined though, which makes the fabric seem thin. Nice, simple design, snug fit, comfortable and reliable sizing if buying on the web. Only had them for a couple of months, and it remains to be seen whether they will last the distance but since they are 100% polyester, I expect they will be pretty bomb-proof. Then again, they were only $22 on-line. Made in China. As it turned out they lasted OK, but started to show signs of wear and tear after 9 months. The new versions ($40 at La Trobe Uni sports Centre) are similar fabric to Speedos should last longer.
Zoggs Cottesloe power back with shelf in navy (left) and fastback in black (right). Unlined.
My TYR bathers are old stock from the Williamstown Life Saving Club. I just love them and even better, they are a beautiful bright blue with yellow trim. Made from 80% Antron/Nylon and 20% Lycra/Elastine so nice and snug, smooth fabric but not chlorine resistant and will apparently drag a little in the water. But here’s the kicker – they have “Williamstown” printed across the bottom and were only $15. Lined at the front, and made in Australia.
PoolProof. An obscure brand which I bought on special somewhere for $40 but have since seen in swimwear shops. Made from polyester and have stretched a bit. However to be fair, they had a thrashing since they were so comfortable and such a nice design. Fully lined, now retired but still fine under the wetsuit. Made in China.
Now, here is the bad news. The bathers that you buy before you go on that great holiday to Noosa. Not chlorine resistant, really expensive ($150+) and if you couldn’t resist that one little dip in the pool at the resort, deteriorate the minute you get on the plane back to Melbourne regardless of how conscientiously you rinsed them out. This is because they are mostly Nylon, with a bit of Lycra thrown in for stretch. Similar fabric to the TYRs only at least ten times the price.
More bad news – on the label of my Bakus, the instructions say to keep them away from a number of things including sunscreen. Sure. Nice colour, great design, really well cut, super supportive without being daggy and Australian-made, but at the end of the day, bathers which cost a heap. Just after writing this, a clip that adjusts the shoulder strap broke so they were completely useless until I had them repaired, which meant sewing the straps down. It seems to me that beach bathers are about style over substance so if that’s what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.
My pair of Adas (made in China) remain untested since I lost some weight after I bought them, so only wore them at the beach for one summer. Have given them to a friend who reports that they are comfortable and have lasted well. High praise indeed, since she lives in Queensland.
The AquaBra. This hot pink sports bra is made of very light fabric that dries out quickly. It’s great under a rashie or thermal especially in situations where getting changed on the beach and struggling out of bathers and into something respectable all gets too hard. I just leave it on and it dries in no time. Very supportive and made for running as well as swimming. A bit of an indulgence but $45 well spent. Worn it heaps in the kayak. And it’s a gorgeous colour. And a year later still going strong after regular use at least once a week.