No togs allowed

When we first moved to Finland we were invited to spend a weekend at a hotel & spa in Imatra. Reading the website before we went I was shocked to read this notice:

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 16.03.22


“Oh no,” I said to Jonny. “I know we have to go nude in the sauna but in the pools as well??” Which led to a hilarious discussion about how we would look partaking in the following activities naked:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 08.19.58

I phoned my Finnish sister-in-law who explained that swimsuits are allowed (or togs as we call them in New Zealand), but swim shorts are not.

We understand that board shorts or street wear are not allowed, but swim shorts? As in shorts especially designed for swimming?

In New Zealand and Australia, the alternative – Speedos – are respected swimwear for training, sports events and lifesavers but otherwise most men will opt to wear something bigger to avoid risking ridicule from their friends.

For example, when ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was captured wearing Speedos (or budgie smugglers as they call them) the newspapers had a field day.

f3e609d132ad5db661159b3238c9217e.jpg budgie_thumb.png

We forgot about this ban on swimming shorts until Miko started swimming lessons recently. When he and Jonathan both turned up in swim shorts they were stopped short by the lifeguard.


Jonny’s preferred style of swim wear

Turns out even swimming shorts on a four-year old are not allowed.


Before they could proceed they each had to choose a pair of swim briefs from a communal basket and put them on before joining the class.


Jonny’s enforced style of swim wear

While I found this highly amusing Jonathan wasn’t so sure. If anything it kept his career as the accompanying parent at swim class very brief indeed.



26 thoughts on “No togs allowed

  1. Hehehe this is hilarious. And when I first came here with my boyfriend at that time, we had the similar conversation and thoughts on our first trip to swimming pool =)


  2. Haha, my son had a similar experience when his school started swimming last month, luckily they let him swim in his swim shorts the first day but we then had to head to XXL to find some lycra short type togs rather than the budgie smugglers, all set for summer now. At least it isn’t as tough as Japan where they also require you to swim with a cap, no cap…no swim…


  3. hahahaha…

    this is so funny.

    i want to see the actual pics of Jonny- not his body double….

    i mean, if the whole pool has, surely the whole internet might as well..

    xxx >


      • Thank you, Urmas…I stand educated and will make sure that my husband is prepared when we next visit Finland. As a former competitive racer, I myself much prefer to swim in Speedo or another brand of racing suit, as it allows me to glide through the water with minimal resistance. Once a swimmer has experienced that, it’s hard to want to swim in anything else. The swim shorts ban, accordingly, may lead to more enjoyable swimming for men who actually swim when they are in the water. And when they get out of the water, they can put swim shorts over their Speedos (which dry very quickly).


    • They are banned because swimming halls in Finland are afraid of germs etc. Swimming shorts in theory carry more germs than speedos. I don’t actually know if there is any research on the validity of this but it seems to be the consensus that swimming shorts have more bacteria etc.


  4. When we were shopping swim shorts for my husband, I had been in the States for about a week. At the sports store I pointed out some Speedos and he laughed at me. But at Lake Tahoe his swim shorts failed him and he ended showing a bit more than he was supposed to when the swim shorts turned out to be see through… I bet he would have loved to sport some Speedos at that moment.


    • Wow that’s the best explanation I’ve read yet. Thanks for sharing. I thought the clothing ban while swimming was only for safety (heaviness or tangling). This article has good reasons anyone can understand!


  5. For me as a Finn, this was rather hilarious, and drove me to dig into the reasons also. I had always thought that the “no shorts” signs were there to forbid shorts that were not originally intended for swimming – as they quite clearly bring both extra bacteria to the pools, and the lint clogs the water purification system. It turns out that this actually is the Finnish rationale, swimming shorts would in principle be accepted (and are in some pools) but often they’ve chosen to ban all, because it is understandably quite embarrassing for all parties if the staff has to come and inspect every shorts-type attire they see.

    Now that the attire issue is resolved, I would like to offer some suggestions of places to enjoy swimming around the Helsinki area, both in indoor & outdoor pools and beaches, with or without shorts


  6. As far as I know the actual reason is that shorts have more fabric and folds which in turn makes them more fertile for bacteria. I don’t know whether there is some research backing this up but it seems to be the idea behind it. As a Finn I was as surprised when I saw it the first time (as a teen). The fact that you need to shower naked follows similar logic since you might not clean yourself as well with trunks/shorts/speedos on.


  7. Um… Or it`s simply that peoples not allowed to use them when swimming indoors to courage others people to just use any shorts they own as swimsuit? 😛 The germs play huge role as always but think about that if someone goes to pool without changing shorts at all or something like that…
    This is hopefully not usual practise but still a possibility and seriously, in Finland clenliness can be considered as a (huge) part of Finnish culture and mindset (even if it has been taken to bit extremes in some things…) Why else we love sauna so much 😉


Your thoughts..

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s