Signing up for your first triathlon can be both exhilarating and daunting. For most athletes, at least one discipline is out of our comfort zone (mine is cycling, and this is my fourth year in the sport!) The amount of gear and training can feel overwhelming. While swimming may be the most difficult for what we lovingly call “adult-onset swimmers” over here at RunTriBike, the equipment needed certainly does not have to be. I have put together a list of swimming must-haves for beginner triathletes. These items will help you as you get started in our sport. Have something I missed, let me know, in the comments below.
Swimming Must-Haves For Beginner Triathletes
These are the three most basic items needed for your swim workouts. I would personally recommend wearing your tri suit or whatever you decide to wear during your race in a similar body of water (whether a pool or open water triathlon), but a swimsuit is easier to deal with and cheaper. For men, you can choose between jammers (shorts-length) or briefs (aka Speedos) and women can choose between one and two piece suits, thin or thick strap. There’s other parts of a suit to keep in mind if you end up swimming more frequently, but to start out, one or two swimsuits is just fine. Swimoutlet is a great place to start browsing different options and to see a variety of sizing charts in one place, but you can also get free shipping on all orders over $100 from blueseventy.
There’s a few things to think about with goggles. Do you want a smaller lens or something wider? A wider socket is recommended for open water for a better field of vision, but some people prefer the feel of smaller goggles on their eyes. The other factor to consider is clear versus mirrored goggles – clear goggles let in more light and work for cloudy skies or darker water, whereas mirrored goggles are best for preventing glare from the sun.
Swim caps are required on race day. This swim cap is provided by the race and typically latex. If you have a latex allergy, are sensitive to it, or simply don’t like the feel, a silicone cap may be right for you. If you have more coarse hair, there’s also fabric caps. Most swim caps aren’t made with Black hairstyles in mind, but there’s companies like Soul Cap that make caps that will fit over your hair!
YOUR SWIM BAG
Towel, Body/Hair Wash, Pool/Shore Shoes
The same sort of things you’d bring to a relaxing day poolside or to the beach still apply to workouts! As far as these go, there’s no hard and fast rule as long as you’re comfortable. For example, I prefer a large towel so I can cover up more if the water is cold. It also helps me get more bang for my buck as I dry off and change into clothes. Some sort of flip flops or sandals are great for this, and many people double these as shower shoes in the locker room. Finally, hair and body wash will help get the chlorine off while maintaining soft, healthy skin and hair. If you’re an open water swimmer, hair and body wash will help you too. You can pick up a kit of body wash, shampoo, and conditioner from our partner BlueRub here. Fun fact- shampoo is also a great tool to use to stop goggles from fogging. Put a drop in and rinse before swimming!
Water Bottle, Electrolytes
It may feel like you don’t need to have fuel while swimming, but you’re still exerting energy and sweating! A good water bottle and your sports drink of choice will get you through workouts hydrated and cramp-free. Cramping in the water is pleasant. Be sure to stay hydrated. If you’re swimming for a longer period of time (90+ minutes), solid food can be helpful as well. I bring Clif bars and applesauce packets to the pool deck as they work for me. Find the nutrition that works for you is an individual art and science, so keep testing.
Hopefully this checklist of swimming must-haves makes your swim training less daunting, or at least more organized!