Obvious one really if you follow this blog with any resemblance of regularity. These particular Speedos are the ones I'm using now. Most people couldn't give a monkey's about what they wear to swim in but not me, it matters (most blokes I mean, if you've ever been with a woman shopping for a bikini you'll know this is far from a 'low interest' purchase').
Of course it really mattered when I was a kid swimming competitively. The difference between winning or losing is a few hundredths of a second, missed timing on a turn, not reacting quick enough to the starting gun; it all matters and you don't want anything creating more friction in the water. So men wear condom like swim caps on their head to cover hair, or shave it off, they also remove hair on their bodies (growback is a killer!) and swim trunks are as light and skimpy as possible. These days it's gone a bit too far, with body suits that cut through the water better than skin, with some actually banned, but is those days there was no such thing.
I needed lots of pairs of trunks too. On an a weekend swim meet you usually did lots of events, not just you best one. And in each case, that meant a heat and (hopefully) a final, requiring on average six pairs per day, plus one for the warm up. I used to pick specific trunks for warm ups, usually old ones, some decent, not too tight ones for heats and then a selection of 'lucky' trunks for finals. The ones in the finals were usually a size too small for maximum effect, which was damned uncomfortable, but rituals are rituals. Along with never putting goggle lenses on all at once, left always before right and splashing myself with water before the race.
Back then, people wore skimpy speedos to the beach and for leisure swimming but these days you're either German or an idiot if you do that and don't care about social death. Swim trunks are really baggy shorts.
That was the same for me for years too. After packing in competitive swimming at 15 and any form or racing and hardcore training after university, I only 'kept my hand in' for years. After starting training when I was 7, that was swimming every day for 8 years, with a few holiday breaks. I had lost my appreciation for it all to be honest and got into rowing, running, tennis and gym stuff. I never lost the addiction to joy and pain you get with sport, it just took other forms. So less swimming called for less serious swimwear.
Then I decided in around 2006 to find out what I could do. It was sparked by my nephews who were getting really good and swimming for Cornwall and wanting to do something useful for ChildLine, so I pledged to train like a madman until I was able to swim 100 metres in under a minute, something I hadn't done since I was 15.
I expected it to be a short term fad, but I ended up loving it again. There's nothing like the joy in doing something really well, not to mention the natural high that comes from pushing through the pain barrier, it's zen like, it's 'flow'. So I got addicted again. And serious swimming, means serious swimwear. So I some skimpy Speedos, I'm on my third pair sincd then. I only need one pair at a time now, of course.
At the pool in my gym, one can feel a little self conscious between the changing rooms and the water, but not once I get swimming. I'm clumsy person, I've no idea how I play okay tennis or Rugby, but when I'm in the water everything feels right.
There's no embarrassment at the John Charles Centre every Saturday at 7am where I go to train with other oldies for two hours of pain and suffering. Swimming taught me a lot, about all sorts of things and probably most importantly, no matter how hard things get, no matter how hard it becomes, keep going. Nothing really worth it if you don't have to try.
Also, uniforms matter. Psychologically, what you wear affects how you feel and how you perform. So wearing trunks matters in exactly the same way a great suit can transform a man's confidence or the way the rituals of getting ready are as important to going out for a woman as actually going out. A 37 year old man looks laughable in Speedos, but no one laughs once he starts cutting through the water.