These baggy trunks are a real drag, say bolshie beach boys of LA

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The Independent US

The lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles rather liked their old swimming trunks. They were sleek, hugged their thighs tightly and generally made them look like their glamorous television counterparts on Baywatch.

The lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles rather liked their old swimming trunks. They were sleek, hugged their thighs tightly and generally made them look like their glamorous television counterparts on Baywatch.

So when they were told they had to change into baggier, less attractive swimwear to satisfy the whim of a corporate sponsor, they weren't best pleased. In fact, they were determined to find a way of resisting the change.

And now they've found one. The pockets of the new trunks, apparently, fill with too much water and don't drain quickly enough to meet the lifeguards' stringent safety standards. "The union raised a concern that the new suits are slower in the water," the LA county chief lifeguard, Randy DeGregori, explained yesterday.

Mr DeGregori, himself a lifeguard for 35 years, tried the new trunks and didn't notice a difference. But under union pressure he has agreed to do scientific tests, including timed trials in a swimming pool.

The company that supplied the new trunks, Izod, cut a deal with the lifeguards whereby it would donate $3.2m (£2.1m) in exchange for 10 free beach permits for marketing events and the right to promote itself as the "official swimwear sponsor of the Los Angeles County beach lifeguards".

The lifeguards' union, however, immediately complained. For now the 700 beach-watchers are back in their old Speedos, and hope to stay that way.

What would Pamela Anderson think? That, as it turns out, is another source of grief. Many of them were picked as extras for the first couple of seasons of Baywatch, but then dropped on the grounds that "they didn't look enough like lifeguards". The programme has since moved from Los Angeles to Hawaii, leaving behind no trace but a smack of its own vanity.

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