The Essential Gear that New Swimmers Need
Beginner swimmers, whether they are swimming for fun, for health, or getting ready for a triathlon, are setting out on a journey that will change their life. Few workouts provide the overall fitness, without the jarring and joint pressure, of swimming. It is an incredible way to get yourself into shape.
We wanted to help new swimmers figure out exactly what kind of gear they need. Here is our overview on the swim products you should consider as you embark on this new hobby.
Goggles. Outside of the swimsuit, noted below, the most essential piece of swim gear is a good pair of goggles. Swim goggles are critical because they keep the water out of your eyes, and you should never try to swim with your eyes closed. Chlorinated water will quickly irritate your eyes, and even lake water could sting after a while. Find a pair of goggles that fit your face well, and seal to your face. Your expectation should be perfection — that not a single drop of water makes it in to your eyes. The same goggles generally can be used for a pool swim as for a lake swim. Note that goggles wear out — generally by becoming foggy too quickly — so expect to go through a pair every couple months or so. We like: Speedo Hydrospecs, a great all-around goggle.
Swim Jammers (for men). Truth be told, guys can swim in just about anything. Most men who are swimming laps in a pool, though, will opt for swim jammers. They are form-fitting elastic shorts that will not get heavy and bulky in water, and will give you a little extra coverage than the typical pair of Speedo racers. For the typical swimmer, these will be everything you need. They can be used underneath a wetsuit in open water, but for actual race day we recommend you use actual triathlon shorts. Swim jammers give you no padding for the bike, something you will want in all but the shortest races. We like the TYR Durafast Jammers. They are well-made and basic, and will suit pretty much every lap swim need you have.
Swimsuit (for women). Women wear swimsuits for their workout swims, but in a triathlon they have a variety of options ranging from swimsuits to tri suits. We will focus on the pool swims here, and note that most women will go the route of a traditional, speed-focused swimsuit. Something that provides adequate tightness so you can glide through the water while not begin constrictive. Most of these swimsuits will be made from an elastine / lycra blend, perfect for drying off quickly after your swim. Again, we like to go back to the Speedo brand, and suggest the Pro LT Superpro Swimsuit.
Kick Board. Every swimmer needs a good kick board, to help work the core, legs, and make sure the kick portion of the swim stroke is strong. You might not need to purchase one if your regular pool or health club has kick boards. Many do, and if so they are yours to use while you swim. Manufacturers are going high-tech on these boards and noodles, but we don’t think you have to. As far as kickboards go, we like the regular old blue speedo board. It won’t be the bank, and does the job.
The final, essential piece of gear you will need is not gear at all, it is a training guide. A good swim training guide will make every swim workout that much more productive, because you will be using proper form and technique. Instead of spending your time slowly trying to build a swimming base, you will instead be building your abilities quickly. There are many training guides out there, but we like a series of instructional videos from Total Immersion. It will allow you to build your swim stroke in the right way, and be aware of the bad habits that many swimmers tend to develop. TI is a true authority in the field of swim instruction.
Don’t miss our entire section on what to wear in a triathlon swim, and be sure to learn as much about the swim section of your triathlon here on our site. I remember what an old mentor once told me: “The swim leg is what keeps everyone from trying a triathlon.” Don’t let it keep you from trying!
Triathlon Swim Questions –YOUR questions on triathlon swim gear,swim training and competing answered by us!
Spotting: You will need to learn how to spot in order to swim on course. Check out the “How To” so that you get from point A to point B using the straightest line.
By the way, Aquasphere Goggles are our FAVORITE goggles by far. they come in different colors and also have tinting on the plastic for outdoor swimming.
Taking Care of Your Swim Gear – Learn how to properly take care of your swim gear so that it will be around for a while.
Pool Etiquette: Believe it or not, there are unwritten rules for training in a pool setting. Check them out before you jump in!