Jessica Silverhorn and her mother were in a full-throttle tug of war yesterday amid 2,500 bathing suits and other summer fare at the Water Water Everywhere store at Tysons Corner.

And the clock was ticking: Mother and daughter had barely a week to find 13-year-old Jessica a suit for a trip to Minnesota with her dad.

"What about this one, sweetheart?" Diane Silverhorn asked as she showed off a $60 turquoise one-piece with mesh netting across the stomach.

Head down, Jessica muttered her terse verdict: "Mom. No."

Standing nearby, Jessica's friend Nycole Fox nodded in agreement, lending critical peer support in the brewing generational standoff. Nycole, 13, went through the same drill with her own mother a few weeks ago.

Undeterred, Diane Silverhorn dipped into the racks again, emerging with a royal blue bikini with large white flowers on it. "I can't believe you don't like this one," she exclaimed as she waved the $83 suit in the air. "It's so cute."

Hmmm, well, maybe not.

As mother proceeded rack to rack, feeling the fabric of each suit as she went, her teenage daughter rocked back and forth on her heels. "But Mom, flowers are not me," Jessica said at one point. "You know that. Remember, we tried it when I was three?"

Timeout. In stepped the referee: Shayda Sadeghian, assistant manager of the four-year-old shop. "Don't worry," she reassured the combatants. "Nobody who comes into this store wants to be here, but at some point, you've got to get a bathing suit."

At Water Water, they even attempt to take the pain out of the process, offering $70 silicone gel pads for those lacking natural endowment, and $1.99 cushy-foam alternatives for those lacking both endowment and the $70.

But the Silverhorns weren't trying to accent anything. So Sadeghian suggested a modest red one-piece for Jessica. It won an okay. But what she really wanted was a dark blue Speedo exactly like the one she had last year but, regrettably, outgrew.

"Boy, Jessica, you're a tough one," her mother said. "You don't see anything you like in this whole store?"

"Nope. Not really."

Diane Silverhorn rolled her eyes and looked at her watch. They'd been in the store for nearly 30 minutes, and now they'd have to start over someplace else.

"Hold these anyway," she told Sadeghian, handing her four bathing suits. "We'll be back."

Sadeghian, a college student who, after three months at Water Water Everywhere has forsaken her pre-med major in favor of a career in retailing, chuckled as they left, then went back to arranging the racks.

"People come in here, they have low self-esteem and they say, 'Fix me,' " she said. "We try our best, but in the end, it's just a piece of cloth."

Each week throughout the summer, Metro reporters will offer a taste of the season across the Washington region. Today's installment: bathing suit feuds and Rock Creek Regional Park's picker-upper.