Swim gear

Since I forgot to bring some of my swim gear to the pool one day last week, I figured I’d write a post about the gear I use.  Swimming lap after lap can get boring, so having a few tools to break up the monotony really helps.  And good basic gear is essential to getting into the pool at all.

The first piece of equipment you need, obviously, is a good swimsuit.  I have always bought Speedo products, and with one exception have been happy.

Here is the model of swimsuit I am currently using - a Speedo Endurance Side Shirred Contourback.

Here is the swimsuit I am currently using – a Speedo Endurance Side Shirred Contourback.

Women’s swimsuits come in two lines, one for competitive swimmers and one for fitness swimmers.  Competitive suits are sized in even numbers from 26 to 44 roughly corresponding to bust size.  Personally, I have never been able to wear them.

I go for the fitness suits, sized 0 to 16 corresponding to dress size.  Plus-size suits are also available.  Some are tank style with shoulder straps going straight back, while others are cross back.  I prefer the cross back, but either will work.

For swimsuits I am happy to pay extra to get endurance fabric instead of regular lycra.  Before endurance fabric was invented, I was replacing swimsuits every few months because they stretched out so much and got holes.  Now my swimsuits last at least a year.

Speedo Vanquisher goggles

Speedo Vanquisher

Speedo Hydrospex

Speedo Hydrospex

A good pair of goggles is also essential.  Some people try to swim with their heads above water, but you can’t do more than a few laps that way.  Happily, goggles have improved a lot in recent years in both comfort and leakage prevention.

Different goggles are shaped differently.  To see if they fit your face, try pressing them against your eyes without putting the straps behind your head.  If they stay on solely by suction, they will work.

Recently I’ve been using the Vanquisher goggle.  I didn’t think I’d like it because it’s made more for the competition than fitness, but it has worked great and doesn’t leak.  I’ve also tried Hydrospex, which are more flexible.  The goggles I bought were very comfortable but developed a leak after a few weeks.  I may try them another pair though, because they are so comfortable.

Speedo silicone stretch fit cap

Speedo silicone stretch fit cap – silicone on the outside, lycra on the inside

A third piece of essential equipment is a good swim cap.  I wish everyone still had to wear swim caps in the pool because there’s nothing worse than catching a bunch of loose hair in your fingers in the middle of a stroke.  But I always wear a swim cap regardless to protect my own hair.

Fortunately swim caps have also evolved since the days of grandma’s flower caps.  Latex caps are cheapest but hardest to get on and hardest on your hair.  I avoid them.  Silicone is better, though slick and hard to get on wet hair.

I like lycra caps, made out of the same material as swimsuits.  They don’t keep your hair dry, but they are much easier to get on and off and more comfortable.  Recently I have been using a cap that is the best of both worlds – silicone on the outside and lycra on the inside.



Beyond the basics, I like to have two important pieces of equipment – a kickboard and pull buoy.  Most swim facilities have these items on hand for people to borrow, but some do not, so I keep my own in a drawstring bag in the trunk of my car.  (This is what I forgot to bring into the pool that day.)

Kickboards come in various shapes and sizes, and any of them will work.  If I have a choice, I go with the more streamlined pointy type.  I do five to 10 kickboard laps every swim.  They are a great way to break up the monotony and good to switch to when you are tired or hitting an exercise wall.

Pull buoy

Pull buoy

Many people don’t know about pull buoys.  They go between your thighs to hold your legs still so you can work your arms.  I find I swim faster than usual when using pull buoys – which makes up for the slower kickboard laps.  Again, any style works fine, but I prefer the older type with adjustable straps.

Swim fins are another accessory many people use.  I tried but never got into them.  They chapped my feet, and I felt like I was not getting as good a workout.  Your best bet is to try them and see what you think.

Personal care is also important.  Before each swim, I wet down my hair and put on conditioner.  This is very effective in keeping out the chlorine.  After each swim, I shower with soap and a shower poof to get all the chlorine off.  Chlorine removal products such as UltraSwim can also be a big help.

As with most sports, having the right gear makes a huge difference in swimming.  A good suit, non-leaking goggles, and cap are must-haves, while kickboards and pull buoys enhance your workout.  Good personal care habits and products also help keep you from carrying around that chlorine smell.

If these items become part of your routine, you can make regular swimming part of your routine too.

Day 25 Swim Report
Number of laps: 45
Time: 80 minutes
Pace: Somewhat slow

I had a day off Monday due to a busy work day.  Coming back Tuesday I was a little slower than usual, but I got through it and felt much better by the end.

Day 26 Swim Report
Number of laps: 48
Time: 75 minutes
Pace: Somewhat fast

Picked up speed from yesterday, and eked out a few extra laps before the pool closed.  Counting down the last few days of the marathon and hoping I can get it all in!


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