#100wears: Swimming gear

#100wears is the most beloved garment section where I show off the longevity of items I’ve worn at least 100 times and urge to elevate the rather low #30wears aspiration. Basically, a love song, a poem, a “there are some garments so good I can’t stop wearing them”… or, as in this case, the ones that you just keep using, and they just keep serving you. This is the story of my swimming gear, and lessons on longevity learned in the swimming pool.

As I already wrote in my Barcelona summer survival guide in July 2017, “for years I’ve been toying with the idea how water activities might be the best ones for me. I sweat a lot and water prevents the discomfort of that, I always loved playing wit water and mud as a child, I had tried some low-key water aerobics and loved it… but I never learned how to swim properly and the Mediterranean is way too salty for me. So I’ve finally obtained some unsustainable gear – I already had a Speedo swimsuit (made in China), a 2015 “promise” purchase of double polyester that needs amortization, and now also a pair Birkenstock flip flops (EVA, made in Germany) and a silicone swimming cap (Decathlon-Nabaiji, made in China) – and got into the chlorinated water. And I love it, despite the overall tackiness and the smell, oh, the smell! So far it has been water aerobics with people at least twice my age, but one day I will swim properly. Pinky promise!”

And I kept that promise. That very September I enrolled in swimming classes and have been swimming in my local gym twice a week for the first year and three times a week since October 2018. Now I can proudly say that I have a solid base of knowledge (and muscle memory) of all four styles, and do around a kilometer of decent swimming on a good day.

Talking about my gear – that 2015 Speedo swimsuit, Birkenstock flip flops, and the cheap goggles and cap – and their wear count, I don’t have precise data, but here are the estimates just to drive home my point that these things, without any effort for #30wears or tracking have easily reached 100+ wears. Twice a week for a year would mean a max of 52 x 2 = 104 already. I did skip some classes for travel, but I’m quite consistent… For last 7 months it has been a potential of 7 x 4 x 3 = 84. They have received 150 wears at least. Boom!

The additional point I want to emphasize here are (a) the usual one that I bring up especially with shoes in my case (examples: Veja Taua, Veja Arcade, Arcopedico ballerinas) it but also applies to any other item that you have few of and use often: those reach #100wears with no effort and very quickly, and (b) how even garments from which you don’t expect much can pleasantly surprise you with their longevity.

Swimming pool water is infamous for its corrosiveness, and even my swimming instructors admit that planned obsolescence is a thing at least in this industry, especially when it comes it swimming goggles whose anti-fog coating lasts, well, nothing. And the water dissolves swimsuits… I have now assumed that foggy goggles is a Sisyphus battle when one is happy only on her first day with new goggles, so I endure the fog and wait for another reason to buy new ones. By now it’s a game, just setting new deadlines for new goggles: ‘when the new year starts… no, when it’s two years of use… no, when they literally break apart’.

Swimsuit also has turned out to be a very lasting one. Maybe there is something to Speedo’s Endurance+ fabric, but the only part that shows signs of degrading is the label. You cannot see the measurements anymore… And similarly with the swimming cap, a combination of a rushed aesthetic decision on a purchase that turned out to be a lasting one – those stupid letters on the swimsuit, the obnoxious color of the cap (the interaction between gender and sports is a hard one even for a pink lover here) – is a weird one you learn to embrace if you decide that longevity trumps cute. So I have no good reason to buy a new swimsuit made of Econyl (like this one, or this one, among so many more). The EVA Birks are also wearing much better than the street model, but I wear them only for the pool and around the flat on hot days. Except for some wear on the sole, they are mint condition.

So, I was expecting the goggles to fail first, followed by the swimsuit, and the cap to last forever… But enter this week! I was running late, typical when the journey to gym takes three minutes, and just putting my cap on when it suddenly popped and I had a separate piece in my hand. My instructor lent me another one (this pink one, to be exact; I liked it, btw) for the duration of the class, but my homework was to go get a new one. The other aspect was assuming that silicone items are not recycled in Barcelona (although one could do that with 100% silicone objects), so to the landfill it goes. Ouch!

Working on reducing my e-commerce footprint, I made a trip to Decathlon and now have a new *manly* silicone cap (Speedo has convinced me as a brand, clearly) that should last me for next two years of soaking. Now all my swim things are dark and serious… Analyze this! I am also very proud of myself for having resisted a temptation to buy new goggles. Oh, yes, I entered the enchanted labyrinth of Decathlon wanting to buy one thing and came out with that one thing… OK, technically two things because, while Decathlon swimming caps are sold ‘in bulk’, no wrapper, only a plastic sticker, Speedo gives you a resealable plastic pouch. I’ve already soaked the stickers off and will use it as a pencil holder or sth.


Which pieces easily reach #100wears in your wardrobe? Which garments do you end up wearing more, the beloved ones or the practical ones? Or maybe these, the ones you don’t even think of as being ‘garments’?

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