You wouldn`t wear a ballgown to the office, would you? It`s the same as wearing your beach bathing suit in the pool. It`s just not done!
In such a sunny, sports oriented environment as Australia and the US, we still expect our lycra swimsuit to last in chemically treated pools and spas. And why not! We are so technologically advanced to develop computer chips and send robots into space, we should be able to wear our swimsuit in the pool one day and the beach the next. Right?
Wrong! The sad fact is that despite all the technological advances that the inventors of lycra, Du Pont, have made, the swimsuit still ends up looking like a thin, shapeless sack often after only a few exposures to chlorinated water in swimming pools. The effects are even more dramatic when the heat factor of the spa or heated public pool is added to the cocktail.
Back in the 1930`s, Dunlop chemists developed "Lastex" to replace heavy boning and lacing in corsetry. It found it`s way into swimsuits but zips and shirring were still used to retain the corset-like appearance. The invention of elastomeric fibres such as lycra revolutionised lingerie and swimwear eliminating the need for zips due to it`s superior shape retention. The fibre was knitted into nylon, polyester or cotton in a unique way to gain maximum stretch and shape retention. Yet to this day, chlorine still defeats it, perishes it, destroys it.
Nevertheless, looks like chlorine is here to stay. The greenish-yellow gas, named in 1810 after the Greek word for green; khloros, quickly became one of the world`s most effective disinfectants. According to the Chlorine Chemistry Council, "it bonds with and destroys the outer surfaces of bacteria and viruses".
Today it plays a role in over 10,000 products from surfboards and tennis rackets to deoderants and perfumes. It forms the basis of 85% of the world`s pharmaceuticals and it "purifies" much of the world`s drinking water. Is it any wonder it is used as the principle disinfectant in swimming pools worldwide?!
It`s also cheap to make. North America alone produces 12 million tons of chlorine per year. There`s no doubt that it seems to produce a number of benefits. We don`t suffer from typhoid and cholera any more. But what is the ubiquitous chlorine really doing to us?
Remember the green plastic hair we had as kids after a summer of swimming. And those burning eyes! If the swimsuit is perishing, what is it doing to the health of the person wearing the bathing suit? Recent research suggests that exposure to chlorine in pools may cause breathing trouble.
And what about our drinking water.... According to the National Cancer Institute in the US: "drinking chlorinated water may as much as double the risk of bladder cancer". Obviously drinking swimming pool water is definitely not a good idea.
Much of the problem in pools and the strong "chlorine smell" we associate with public swimming pools is caused by "chloromines", substances which form when chlorine reacts with sweat, urine and other contaminants. YUK! The remedy....add a megadose of chlorine to burn away the chloramines. More bad news for swimsuits.
So now we know we need 2 swimsuits. Natural salt water at the beach does not have the destuctive power of chlorine.
Keep your best lycra bathing suit as that... it`s best. Don`t take it to the pool!
But are we to resign ourselves to replacing our dedicated pool swimsuit every few months? No way! Luckily at last, recent technology has come out of denial, thought laterally, and taken the lycra out of the fabric. Knit technology has been used to invent a fabric with stretch and retention almost as good as lycra to make a truly chlorine resistant fabric.
Now you can be confident that your swimsuit will last if you`re a swimming teacher, a spa freak, a lap lady, into aquaerobics, teaching baby to swim, or just plain lazy about rinsing your lycra swimsuit. Get into the new chlorine resistant swimwear You`ll need one to add to your swimwear wardrobe if you`re a Beach Babe and a Pool Princess.
About the Author Sue Rice has been a designer and retailer of beautiful womens bathing suits and swimsuits for over 20 years.
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