Eat my shorts

While swimming with my girls in the local pool last week I noticed, as usual, the large signs posted all around the entrance reminding men what kind of swimwear they were permitted to use.

This has never been a big problem for me, as I’ve never quite understood why anyone would want to wear baggy, floppy clown pants while trying to swim anyway, so I’ve always been more comfortable with proper, snug trunks. You know, like swimmers wear. But what annoys me more is the outraged and indignant reaction of expats and tourists when told that no, they can’t go into the water wearing “shorts” which come down past their knees. There are various expat fora full of puzzlement, anger and outright xenophobia trying to work out why those weird continental types want to force us to don tight trunks, although occasionally someone comes along and talks a bit of sense, calmly explaining the logic behind it:

“I know this one, after arguing the toss with the French pool attendant on holiday he explained in his best English, ”You have to wear trunks because what the French resorts have found is people wear their swimming shorts all day at the beach, then the bar, then shopping, then get back to the pool and dive in it wearing a filthy pair of shorts, leaving sand and all sorts of other muck at the bottom of the pool” Makes sense if you think about it, I stopped arguing after that.”

And yet the Brits (in particular) still seem to have an aversion to swimwear which looks like underwear, even going so far at some resorts as to mirror the European rule and ban Speedos for being too shockingly revealing, and “to prevent embarrassment among fellow members of the public and to maintain the family-friendly atmosphere at the resort”.

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12 thoughts on “Eat my shorts

  1. paola June 8, 2011 / 11:22 am

    wtf writes: “I got thrown out of the swimming pool wearing Speedos
    Apparently the S had came off them”

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  2. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios June 8, 2011 / 2:58 pm

    But if people are wearing their Speedos all day under their trousers? Seems those would be pretty gross too.

    And women in swim skirts or halter tops? What about them?

    I never understood the logic of dictating what people wear to swim beyond insisting the vital parts are covered by *something* and that suits don’t have embellishments or threads that might come off and harm the filters or drains.

    If the issue is sand in the pool, then say, “Wear a clean suit. No sandy clothes.”

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    • simonlitton June 8, 2011 / 3:11 pm

      Even if people wear speedos under their trousers all day (and who does that?) at least they’d still be covered and not coming into contact with dirty stuff (apart from the inside of your trousers).
      The point is to make sure people are wearing something that is only for swimming. And it’s easier to issue a blanket ban rather than have to inspect the cleanliness of any and all items of borderline/crossover garments.

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      • V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios June 8, 2011 / 5:05 pm

        I can see at resorts people might wear their swim trunks at the beach and pick up sand and then decide to go into a hotel pool. I see that as an issue in a beachside resort.

        But in most environments, particularly in cool and rainy Belgium, people don’t wear shorts all day, let alone swim shorts. I rarely saw adults in shorts in public in the summer. Even so, when does wearing a pair of shorts all day make them “filthy”? Have your shorts ever gotten “filthy” from sitting in cafes, wandering in the market or sitting in a bar? I don’t think “filthy shorts” are the norm.

        And the rule completely ignores women’s swimwear, which is ludicrous.

        E was a lifeguard and pool manager for years when he was a teenager. His parents also had a pool. The “muck” in pools mostly comes from trees, foliage, the environment; the tanning oils and lotions people put on; the children who are not potty trained or as hygienic as adults; head and body hair, and just the fact that you have a standing body of water. Keeping a pool clean is a lot of work, but I seriously doubt that banning swim trunks has any significant impact on pool cleanliness.

        I think the Speedo vs. Swim Trunks issues is simply a cultural one. At least the Brits in your example don’t come up with some bullshit excuse that Speedos somehow affect pool cleanliness in a big way. They just say they prefer people to wear swim trunks because Speedos make most of their clientele feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. A cultural thing. I admire them for being honest about their reasons and not making up some bullshit excuse.

        Maybe the Belgians should put signs that say, “We ban American swim trunks because we find them ridiculous, think they look like clown pants, and want men to put their spandex-bound Packages on display because it proves we are European and not Puritans and don’t have as many sex hangups as Americans.” Ha ha ha..

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  3. Alan Hope June 8, 2011 / 4:45 pm

    The ban on baggy shorts is often a hidden ban on Muslim youths, who avoid the budgie-smuggler Speedo model for reasons of modesty. The swimming pool doesn’t hav eto be overtly racist about it, but the effect is the same.

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    • simonlitton June 9, 2011 / 10:40 am

      A friend on facebook said that there was a “this is an anti-muslim rule” controversy in Flanders a little while ago.
      I’ve done somemore searching but can’t find anything specific about the origin of the rule apart from the oft-quoted hygiene rule.

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      • Alan Hope June 9, 2011 / 11:46 am

        You’re not likely to find anyone admitting its dual purpose. The clearest indication to me would seem to be that the hygiene rule is so flimsy. It would be simpler to deal with dirt and dust by making people go through the showers before going in the pool — which is what already happens in most public pools. In any case, the main hygiene problem in public pools is and always has been peeing, not sandy shorts. I imagine it’s just as easy to pee unobtrusively in budgie-smugglers, though of course I would never dream of doing such a thing.

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    • simonlitton June 9, 2011 / 12:10 pm

      Well they still have the pre-pool showers here too. Belt and braces…

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