Last year, we told you that the modest bathing suit was making a return.

Well, this year that prediction has proved true -- all too true.

There were loads scattered on the beach of Rehoboth last Tuesday: one-piece suits with low-cut legs and high necklines and Gidget-inspired two-pieces with navel-covering bottoms and athletic bra-looking tops. Lots of fabric, not lots of skin. Gone are the three triangles held together by a couple of strings. Enter the Practical Suit.

"I've never had a one-piece," said Davena Tyndall, 30, of Seaford, Del. She was soaking in the late afternoon sun in a black and silver one-piece. "This year it seems you see a lot more. So I thought I'd get one."

Sharon Wagner of Huntington, Vt., was diving and jumping and spiking the volleyball in a sandy pick-up game next to the boardwalk, never once stopping to adjust her periwinkle and white striped two-piece -- and she'd been playing for a good three hours.

"I like sporty bathing suits. I can get some sun and I can move in it. But this way," she said, showing off her Sandra Dee suit, "you don't fall out and lose yourself. It keeps me together while I'm active."

The beach has traditionally been a summer playground. However, it is no longer a center for exhibition. It's become more like an outdoor gym. Therefore, bathing suits have become workout gear. And they have to hold up to a more vigorous lifestyle.

"I do aerobics in the dressing room when I try them on," says Swanee Busic of Fairfax. "Bend over, squat and sit down, just to make sure they are comfortable and I don't have to worry about them." She was wearing a black one-piece with a white and yellow polka-dot waistband.

"The only place I would wear a two-piece," said her friend Genie Hindell of Rehoboth, "is in a hot tub in France!"

"I don't wear high-cut suits anymore because they go up, up, up," said Pam Childress of Monte Clair, Va., motioning from her hip to her waist, "all the way to here. Chasing my two children I don't have to keep pulling it down."

"It's a lot easier with kids," said Tyndall, "carrying them around and playing with them. They're always tugging on things."

Even men are wearing more conservative suits -- Bermuda-length trunks in soft madras plaids and pastels. No teeny weeny male bikinis on this beach. At least not any more.

"I remember coming here as a teenager, say 15, 20 years ago," said Childress. "It's nothing like it used to be."