Items of clothing and gear are very specific and individual for all activities. This is more relevant and important for activities and sports in which you could possibly encounter dangerous situations such as open-water swimming.
When it comes to open water swimming, before diving into the deep end, there are two vital things you need. The first is confident swimming skills and the second is owning all the essential clothes and gear.
The price of open-water swimming essentials is varied, and you can choose between simple and cheap items or advanced and expensive items. As a beginner, do not feel pressured to buy the most recommended or expensive items, instead just take your time and find what works for you.
If you are swimming with a local group, you might even find that other group members can lend you their old wetsuits or accessories to help you out.
Below we explore the most important and valuable items you will need when preparing for open-water swimming.
Workout Clothes and Gear For Open Water Swimming
A wetsuit should be the first thing you buy in preparation for open-water swimming. Wetsuits are made from waterproof material and are manufactured to protect your body during any type of water sport. When shopping for your wetsuit, ensure you are looking for swimming-appropriate suits instead of suits targeted towards surfing or triathlons.
Wetsuits mainly come in two forms, either with material covering your arms and legs or not. Typically, the short sleeve wetsuits are used during the summer while the fully covered wetsuits are best suited for winter. It is worth mentioning that if you are swimming from September to April then it is advisable to buy a thermal wetsuit.
During winter, temperatures can drop significantly and a thermal wetsuit ensures your body can still regulate heat. Alongside a thermal wetsuit, you can also opt to pair it with a rash vest for extra protection.
The process of finding the right wetsuit can be draining due to the sheer amount of time it takes to put on and take off a wetsuit. This can discourage you and influence you to buy the first one you try on.
However, you should try your best to persevere so you can find the most comfortable fit which will make the swimming experience relaxing and much more enjoyable.
You may find it even harder to get the wetsuit off after your first time in the water. In this case, it can be helpful to bring along some vaseline or hair conditioner to apply on your ankles so you can slip out of the suit faster.
There is no specific brand, color, or price associated with a wetsuit, just buy whatever you are comfortable in that fits your budget.
A tow float is an essential piece of equipment you will need while in the water. It is an inflatable bag that provides you with extra buoyancy in the water.
The reason tow floats are important when open water swimming is due to safety reasons. They are produced in vibrant neon colors and can be attached to either your waist or wrist.
Their bright color allows you to be seen within a huge body of water. This also allows emergency teams, passing boats, and other swimmers to be aware of your presence in the water. This is vital in case you encounter difficulty during your swim and need to be rescued.
Tow floats come in a variety of sizes, and colors and some come with emergency whistles and dry bag features so it is important to choose the correct tow float for you. The most necessary criterion when it comes to shopping for a tow float is that it is purchased from a reliable company.
It is super easy to find cheap tow floats on sites such as eBay but it is not worth the risk of them being ineffective.
Aside from providing you with extra buoyancy and visibility, tow floats can also be used in between swimming laps when you need a brief break. While they don’t exactly work like armbands, they can lightly provide you with a short opportunity to rest and catch your breath.
Do not rest on them for an extended period of time as this is not guaranteed to keep you above water and can become dangerous. If you feel that you need this added safety, do not hesitate to bring some arm bands with you when you are first starting your open-water journey. Open water does not provide resting places the same way indoor pools do so please ensure you have done lots of research before heading out.
Neoprene is a material often used for swimming clothing and gear as it is entirely waterproof. Open-water swimmers don’t necessarily need neoprene accessories when they are swimming in the summer but during winter they become essential.
Neoprene accessories include:
It may sound silly to hear that there are such things as swimming shocks and shoes but once you experience the winter water you will completely understand. During the winter months, swimmers will often try to protect every part of their body from hitting the water raw to reduce the chances of developing hypothermia and struggling to swim.
Neoprene accessories are affordably priced which means you may even decide to use them during summer swims as the water can still be uncomfortable.
You may assume that swimming goggles are a piece of equipment used solely by Olympic swimmers and children due to their advertisements. This doesn’t necessarily turn people away from using swimming goggles but essentially just conveys the message that if they aren’t an athlete or a child, then they don’t need them.
Another reason people can tend to avoid using them is fear of getting them stuck in their hair or causing uncomfortable strain around their eyes.
Swimming goggles are great for when you are swimming in open water as they allow you to swim without getting any debris such as leaves in your eyes. Protecting your eyes from open water is always a good idea to avoid any unnecessary dirt or small bugs irritating you.
Wearing goggles will give you greater visibility when swimming which reduces the chances of getting confused and lost. When looking for a pair of goggles to purchase, ensure the goggle strap sits in a comfortable position around your ears without digging in.
Swimming goggles come with many different types of lenses. The three lenses most recommended for open-water swimming are mirrored blue-tinted and prescription goggles. All three allow you to have clearer vision when swimming and they can also reduce the glare of light reflection in the water.
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