If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

How to Pick Your (triathlon) Swim Gear

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Swim tools help increase efficiency, create a more consistent feel for the water, help build better swim mechanics, and improve overall strength and technique.
All of your 'what swim gear do I need' questions (simply) answered!!

Swim Cap: Swim caps are used to protect your hair, keep hair out of face, reduce drag, and insulate you in cold water. Race directors also insist on swim caps to make you more visible for safety in the water ~ in fact most provide the swim cap and that's your only option. But when finding your own for training, you're looking for durability, stretchability or stretch-resistancy, and considering water temperature. Don't worry about fit because they stretch! But you might find that one or the other fits more or less snug on your noggin. Silicon and latex are the most common ~ go for comfort!

Goggles: So many goggles to choose from! And yes, absolutely a requirement for swimming, you need to be able to see!! What you're going for is fit and comfortability. You're going to end up going through several pairs before you find 'the one'. Try a few pairs on to find the best fit. You need suction, clear site, and comfort!

Swim Suit: You're looking for comfort and fit (and coverage). Are you sensing a pattern here!?  Comfort is so important in all things triathlon!! And fit is even more important. Swimsuits are usually made with nylon and lycra. You honestly want a good suit!! Obviously size is most important, it needs to fit. Yes, it's tight. You don't want drag. A one piece is most suitable for ladies as a bikini (unless it's a sports suit) will come off the moment you push off the wall. You want to be sleek and smooth in the water. You need to be able to move too! Nothing should be digging into you ~ shoulder straps or leg openings. Try some suits on and mimic swim strokes in the dressing room to ensure proper fit and comfort.

Hand Paddles: Swim paddles and gloves help swimmers improve stroke technique and endurance. Making sure you have the proper fit regardless of brand is most important. What you want is a paddle that has a surface area slightly bigger than your hand. These are going to be most effective for our longer distance triathlon swim training and goals.

Pull Buoy: A pull buoy is used to increase arm strength and upper body power. There's no special choice here! They all perform the same function. Just make sure it's a comfortable size and shape between your thighs.

Fins: Fins promote a proper kick, give you a better body position in the water, and increase ankle flexibility. Shorter fins are best for fast, shorter kicking, while longer fins provide more propulsion at a much slower tempo. Most of our fin/kick use is going to be short and sweet so I recommend a shorter fin or find one that is "triathlon specific".

Kickboard: The first thing to consider is size. You want quality material, a sleek design, and as mentioned, size matters. Bigger boards offer more buoyancy and benefit beginner swimmers learning how to swim. Smaller boards are best for advanced swimmers and ... triathletes!! You don't need float, you need improved kick.

Additional accessories include Garmin watch or another swim/tri/sports watch and waterproof iPod. These of course are not necessary but make your longer swims more manageable. I love love the Garmin 920XT and my Aquapod.

Triathlon gear and what you need vs. want vs. what's recommended to you can be overwhelming. It can also be expensive... Always remember you get what you pay for. If you're wondering why it's so cheap, it's because it's so cheap. That doesn't mean you have to buy the high dollar of all things... just find the best quality for the most reasonable price. Do your research.

Finally, make sure you rinse off your gear after every use. One, it will extend the life of your gear as chlorine, sweat, and other bodily fluids and yuck build up on it. Take care of your gear, it will take care of you!!

Most important ~ key word ~ learned today? COMFORT.

Next up, How to Pick Your (triathlon) Bike Gear