There are a lot of great tools and equipment to use when you swim that can help you get faster or just get started. So what are they? Here are the basics:
nose and/or ear plugs (opt)
Cap: When it comes to swim caps silicone is the best in my opinion; it is more durable and lasts longer but it is more expensive. If you are just starting out caps made with latex are “sticky” or tend to “grab” the hair but are less expensive and will work just fine. If you have short hair you do not need a cap unless you are in the open water and want to be more visible (I recommend bright orange, yellow or red for open water swimming). If you have long hair a cap is needed. A cap won’t keep your hair dry but will prevent your goggles strap from damaging your hair or getting tangled up. It can also create less drag and make you a bit smoother in the water (every little bit helps). Tip: When putting on a cap the seam or fold is usually down the middle of the head and the writing is on the sides.
Swim suit: This is an obvious one, but there are a few things to look for when choosing a suit. Polyester is best, it will last longer (a lot longer) vs a lycra or spandex suit. An athletic type suit is preferred over a bikini for female athletes and most men wear jammers vs board shorts which can create drag. When choosing the right size it’s always best to try the suit on as brands can vary on fit. As a general rule for women; the chest cage circumference measurement is usually the same as the torso length, so if your bra is a 36 A, B or C etc you are a 36 suit (cup size doesn’t matter in this case).
Goggles: Tinted and mirrored goggles are best for outdoor use and one of my favorite outdoor goggles is the TYR polarized Special Ops read my review
However, I find clear goggles are best for the indoor pool. You will want something that has a good field of vision and fits right. Be sure and try them on in the store to make sure they fit your ocular shape.
Pull Buoy: Most pools have these available to patrons, however it is nice to have your own. I prefer the 1 piece pictured below over the 2 piece. A pull buoy is generally placed between the thighs to eliminate the kick and make the legs more buoyant.
Hand paddles: Generally the more advanced you become the larger the paddle you can use. If you have a poor stroke than you may consider working with a coach to correct form flaws before using paddles. There are a lot of different types of paddles.
Fins: Fins can be a useful tool when training in the pool. Generally shorter fins are used by more advanced swimmers while longer ones help exaggerate the kick more for beginners. I use the TYR Burner pictured below.
Mesh bag with drawstring: You need a breathable bag with holes to hold all your gear together yet allow it to dry.
Clarifying Shampoo: If you are blonde like me and you don’t want green hair or if you have sensitive skin and want your gear to last longer than using clarifying shampoo regularly is important. You simply need to get the chemicals and chlorine off your body and gear and regular shampoo doesn’t do that. Getting the chlorine off can really relieve itchy skin too. I have had great results with the Malibu brand Swimmers Action shampoo. Good stuff!
Nose plug (opt): A nose plug may be useful when you get started but eventually I think it’s best to wean off of the nose plug and learn to breath out your nose and not become dependent on it
Ear plugs (opt): These can be helpful to prevent vertigo and keep water out of your ears, especially in the open water.
Most everything listed can be purchased all in one stop at Aquaholics. They have a great selection of suit and have two locations; one in Bountiful (call first, they are currently looking for part-time help) and Midvale. To learn more visit http://utahaquaholics.com/
Like Dora, just keep swimming!
Coach Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner