I've been building up the nerve to do this for years now. Since I'll be graduating soon, I decided it was now or never.
Most people who use this gym are undergraduates and quite a bit younger than me, but I am fit and still youthful looking and occasionally get mistaken for an undergrad. Also, many older staff and faculty also use the rec center, so I am somewhere in the middle of age demographic there. Not that that matters -- people of all ages and physiques should be able to wear what they like. However, being youngish and fit made me more confident.
I was a little nervous a colleague would recognize me, but since I'm moving on soon the consequences would not follow me around for long. Also, a few years ago they changed their facility rules. They began allowing tank tops and muscle shirts in the weight area, and they removed language that explicitly prohibited thongs.
On my way in, I noticed an undergrad who I had taught a class to. We had run into each other at the gym beforehand from time to time and chatted a little about job hunting.
In the showers, I was much more nervous than I thought I'd be and even got the jitters. I put on my thong which had a conservative, athletic-looking front. I left the drawstring untucked to complete the athletic look. The straps are thick along the waist but the back strap narrows very quickly down to 1/2 inch at the bottom, so it is totally lost in my butt crack before halfway down.
This particular gym has a weird setup. The pool is surrounded on all sides by two stories of glass windows that offer views between the pool and the fitness areas. All the weight benches and cardio machines are up against the windows, pointing at the pool. It's nicknamed "the fishbowl".
Since this was my first time trying this, I decided to be conservative by wearing my towel on the walk to poolside, where there are rows of hooks to hang your towel or belongings. I put on my towel and paused at the doorway out of the showers and took a deep breath. I opened the door. There were about 6 people using the pool, with one open lane plus a lifeguard, no doubt a student employee. She gave me a big smile and said hello, which I thought was a good start, but my heart was still pounding.
I got to the poolside, removed my towel and slipped into the water. I don't think anyone was even looking as I did this. I put on my goggles and got started on my first lap. My lane was the farthest to the side, one of the less visible ones, but still very visible to most of the gym. Actually, if you're using the cardio machines, it is impossible to not notice all of the people swimming.
The next series of events was interesting. None of the other swimmers showed any signs of caring. However, after the first lap, the lifeguard was staring, covering her mouth with her hand.
On my next lap, she was looking but had managed to close her mouth. So far, so good, I thought, and decided that it would be ok to do flip turns. However, I only ever did one, because on my next lap, I noticed she had abruptly come down off of her lifeguard chair and appeared to be speaking into her radio. I panicked a little, certain that I was about to get kicked out, but decided to press on regardless (albeit without the flip turns). On the next couple of laps the lifeguard stood on the opposite side of the lifeguard chair, almost as though she were hiding, but I noticed she was staring again and appeared to be stifling laughter.
I flipped over onto my back and began doing some kicking exercises. In this position it looked like I was wearing an ordinary brief even though everyone who was going to notice the thong probably already had. After a few more minutes without being approached, I figured I was safe now, I went back to freestyle. On my first lap, though, I noticed that a manager had entered the pool area and was talking closely with the lifeguard. "Here we go," I thought. But, after a couple more laps he had left, and the lifeguard had returned to her chair and seemed to be directing her attention elsewhere.
I continued my workout, using the kickboard, doing freestyle without flipturns, and doing kicking exercises on my back. From then on, I didn't notice anything different from any other time I've swam wearing conservative briefs, except some of the people using treadmills on the floor above might have been pointing phones at me. Not wanting stare, I didn't get a good enough look to confirm this.
When the time came to finish, I used the ladder to climb out of the pool. I wrapped the towel around me and walked the gauntlet of windows that separated me from the showers. Nobody seemed to pay any special interest. As I passed the lifeguard she gave me the same big smile and told me to have a great weekend. I told her to do the same.
My best guess is, she initially freaked out and called the manager. Not wanting to deal with it, or not caring, he told her to let it be until there were any complaints. However, social loafing and prevented anyone from complaining, and the lifeguard slowly realized she was the only one freaking out, and slowly calmed down and changed her attitude. But really I have no idea what anyone thought, because they kept it to themselves.
Anyway, it was great afternoon. I am proud of myself.
I will return to college after a 48 year hiatus next month. I went by the gym and pool for a tour, I asked the guy if there was a dress code at gym. He said not for men, there is a dress code mainly for women, mainly open side shirts with no bras. Then I asked if I could wear a thong or speedo in pool. He said he thought a speedo would be ok, but I would need to ask lifeguard about thong. He had a huge grin on his face. I will soon find out lol