|Rowing and canoeing were popular pastimes, and, like tennis, golf, and
riding, necessitated changes in women’s costume. Rowers left their corsets at
home. Stout boots, a skirt that barely touched the ground, a flannel shirt, and
a sailor hat were recommended. Women were also urged to wear heavy gloves to
protect their hands when they rowed. Competitive rowing was popular among men,
but for women rowing was supposed to be strictly for exercise and pleasure.
Many women went to beaches, but few of them actually swam. Ready-made bathing suits were constructed in two pieces-drawers and a tunic-and usually were made of no clinging fabrics like flannel, jersey, soft serge, or even heavy mohair. To complete the bathing costume, women wore full-length stockings, bathing shoes, and even a ruffled cap. Weighted down with heavy, voluminous fabrics, all but the strongest swimmer would have been exhausted after a few strokes. Until the twentieth century, most women did not experience real swimming.