The Speedo Debate

With summer around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your swimwear — along with where you stand on the age-old Speedo debate. If you’re part of the Olympic swimming team, this one’s not for you. We understand that going Speedo for competitive swimmers is a choice driven by performance.

However, the average straight American man is conditioned to fear those itty-bitty pieces of spandex that fit snugly against his jewels and leave nothing to the imagination. Meanwhile, our European and South American counterparts have long embraced the many variations of the Speedo (high rise, thongs — we’ll spare you on the different styles). Do they have bigger balls than us (figuratively speaking, of course?)

The Argument Against Speedos

There’s an unfortunate relationship between the size of a man — his waist, that is — and the size of his swimwear. If you’re packing some extra weight in the stomach or thighs, or if you generally have a larger frame, avoid the Speedo at all costs. Even if you have all the self-confidence in the world, have a little consideration for the people around you. There’s always some shmuck who looks past his body type and embraces the Speedo — this can ruin a day at the beach for everyone. In addition to its unflattering fit on most guys, other reasons to pass on the Speedo include:

Speedos leave little to the imagination: Just because men don’t have a problem with a woman in a low-cut bikini, that doesn’t mean that women — or other guys for that matter — want to see a man’s package on display.

Speedos are not comfortable: Choosing between spandex fitting tightly around your prized possessions or a looser short with breathing room is a no-brainer. When it comes to matters of comfort, the Speedo doesn’t measure up.

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The Argument for Speedos

It may be hard to believe that in some countries Speedos do not suggest a social stigma, nor are they seen as being related to one’s sexual orientation. It may be even harder to believe that, in these same countries, sporting your classic board shorts would be considered a tasteless choice. If you plan on vacationing in the Mediterranean or South America, Speedos are de rigueur. We always praise dressing for the occasion, and in this case, the location is key. It appears that the Speedo, in its proper geographical context, leaves little room for questioning.

Exactly what is it that makes the Speedo such a desirable swimwear option for guys in other countries? You might be surprised:

Speedos allow for a greater range of motion: Swimmers credit the Speedo for allowing greater movement in the water versus carrying the additional weight of a bulky trunk.

Speedos offer a better tan line: A farmer’s tan on your legs is not the hottest look. Trunks that fall past the knee create awkward tan lines and do not allow for full tanning coverage.

Speedos dry faster: Speedos dry much faster than trunks because they use less fabric and are often made of quick-drying nylon.

The take on the Speedo Debate

At AskMen we believe the Speedo is appropriate in context. When in Rome, act like the locals and wrap your boys in some body-hugging spandex. However, spare yourself the embarrassment stateside. While the average American guy should avoid covering his banana in a hammock, by the same token, we do not advise a tent. You know what we’re talking about—those oversize, adolescent board shorts that fall to the ankles. If you’re worried that a Speedo may turn off the ladies, consider this: so will a garbage bag gathered around your waist that balloons out like an SOS parachute in the water (especially if it's in some kitschy Hawaiian hibiscus print.) If you’re serious about swimming, the excess material in a baggy short will impede your movements in the water. Also, anything that is too long will make your legs appear shorter.

However, the age-old debate on Speedos has become somewhat passé, as there are now a variety of styles in men’s swimwear. We recommend a swim trunk with a mid-thigh length in a quick-drying nylon. Generally, keep the colors low-key and the print, if any, minimal. This universally accepted option strikes a good balance between what is flattering and what is functional.