The Swimming Thread

Since I've been sharing how swimming has become an important part of my self-care, I've gotten a ton of feedback, often in the form of incredibly moving emails, about how just talking about swimming — including and sometimes especially including how I am not a talented swimmer but enjoy it immensely all the same — has been inspiring to other people who have now taken it up themselves and/or rediscovered a love of swimming.

So I'm going to keep talking about it! And opening up space for other people to talk about it, too — whether it's sharing their own love of swimming or asking questions about how to dive in (literally).

I want to take a moment to note that access to public pools has a fraught, racist history in the United States, and there are still racialized community conflagrations over public pools and private community pools. There are also issues of access for disabled people, although more pools now, including the pool at which I swim, have assistance apparatus to aid people with physical disabilities. Transphobic locker room policies and fat-shaming can also serve as barriers for people who would like to swim.

Location and money can also be a problem: If you don't live in an area with any public pools or low-cost community gyms with pools, like the YMCA, you may struggle to find a place to swim. Sometimes low-cost chain gyms have pools, but many times the chain gyms with pools have more expensive monthly fees. And, strangely, hotel chains that offer gym memberships tend to only do so in urban centers, and not outside cities where access to a hotel gym could be very useful.

This is a space in which people can safely talk about the discouragements, intimidation, and official policing that have prevented them from or made them fearful of swimming. It's also a place to share resources and strategies in how to deal with these things.

On the subject of cost, let me note that now is a good time of year (in this hemisphere, anyway) to buy a suit! The closer to the end of summer, the better deals you'll find on swimsuits. I recently purchased a new suit for $20 which was originally $110 at the beginning of the season. Yowza!

For those of you who may be wanting to swim, but body consciousness is a difficult issue for you, let's talk for a moment about how many different kind of suits are now available for people of all sizes! Especially if you haven't looked at buying a swimsuit in awhile, you may be surprised by the lovely variation these days.

I have no body consciousness around swimsuits anymore. I own several suits, including a high-waisted bikini. That suit is great for lounging poolside and having a lazy swim, but it's not great for swimming laps. Hence the multiple suits, for different purposes.

My most covered-up suit is also my favorite for swimming laps. It's a high-neck razorback two-piece, with capri length bottoms.

image of me standing in my dining room wearing a two-piece striped bathing suit, a pink swim cap, and purple goggles
Chlorine Resistant Tahoe Capri Set from Swimsuits for All.

I love this suit. Not only does it wear well and make me feel like a dang dolphin in the water, but I've swum countless miles in it, and it's holding up beautifully. Highly recommended!

There are a ton of sites that now sell fashionable and functional suits for women (and men) of almost every size, and looking at swimsuits is one of my favorite bits of online window-shopping, so if you're looking for something specific and can't find it, I might be able to help.

I'm also, quite frankly, willing to answer any and all questions around being a fat woman who swims. How I navigate the locker room, what strokes I do, how I deal with shitty looks and comments, what's the best suit cut for what body shape to cover all the bits, anything.

I regret that I spent a lot of time not swimming because of various discouragements, so if I can help anyone else avoid or get past that, I will. Just holler.

Anyway. Have at it in comments!

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