Equipment and Gear
To swim, you will need a swimming suit, a pair of goggles and a swimming cap as the basics. There are multiple types of each based on style, comfort and level of racing.
Board Shorts (men) and Fashion Swimwear (women)
Mainly worn for recreational swimming only due to comfort and style. It is not recommended to swim laps in board shorts or fashion swimwear due to the suits material drastically affecting technique. If you would like to swim with board shorts (men), it will slow you down and may cause discomfort when kicking. For fashion swimwear (women) body support will be an issue. Swimming in these types of suits is a common mistake with beginners which makes it much harder to learn how to swim. It is recommended to purchase a practice suit “brief” or “Jammer” (men) or fitness swimwear suit (women) if you are planning to swim laps.
A training suit or practice suit is for everyday use while swimming for fitness mainly. These suits are normally durable and more comfortable than racing or technical suits but much more hydrodynamic than board shorts (men) or fashion swimwear (women). These suits come in many different forms such as “Jammers” “brief” or “square leg” suits for men and fitness swimwear for women. Pricing can range from $15 to $90.
A racing suit is a swimming suit that is tighter than a training suit to help cut down on resistance resulting in a faster swim. These suits are also worn in practice if the swimmer is not looking for any extra resistance in training. These suits come in many forms and style. Pricing can be from $15 to $130.
High Performance “Technical Suit”
These suits are to be worn for short periods of time during race settings. These suits are extremely tight to cut down on resistance allowing for fastest swimming possible. These suits are also much more expensive and do not last as long as practice suits. Pricing can be from $100 to $400 Wetsuit. Some open water events allow wetsuits to be worn in races. These suits help with staying warmer in cooler temperatures and help with buoyancy. Pricing can rage from $100 to $500.
There are many different kinds of goggles for swimming. It is recommended to buy a pair of goggles that fit will but are also comfortable for you. Everyone’s face is different and finding what works takes the right goggle. Remember, there will be a period of adjusting when first swimming with new goggles. It is not recommended to swim with a single view mask which will cause a lot of resistance while swimming. Pricing can range from $7 to $100.
Swimming caps are made of Lycra or Silicone and cover your hair when you are swimming for fitness. For people with hair longer than 2 inches, it’s recommended to wear a cap to keep hair out of your face and become more hydrodynamic. Lycra caps are much looser than silicone caps which make them more appealing in training settings. Training caps are also much cheaper. Racing caps are not recommended for training use due to the discomfort of being so tight but can be worn if needed. In most race setting, racing caps are not mandatory. Training cap pricing range from $5 to $20 and racing cap pricing range from $20 to $80.
Additional Gear and Equipment
Rubber fins are used to help kick faster. They also improve technique by keeping the feet in the proper position while kicking.
Swimmers use these plastic devices to build arm and shoulder strength and refine pulling technique. Hand paddles attach to the hand with rubber tubing or elastic material. They come in many different shapes and sizes.
A kickboard is a foam board that swimmers use to support the weight of the upper body while they focus on kicking; helps build leg muscles.
Often used at the same time as hand paddles, pull buoys support swimmers' legs (and prevents them from kicking) while they focus on pulling. Pull buoys are made of foam so they float in the water. Swimmers hold them in between the thighs.
Improving balance will minimize the need for this kick to provide an upward, instead of a forward vector, and in some cases completely corrects the kick. Using an ankle band will have the immediate effect of turning off your kick, which then forces you to make efforts to correct your balance. If you are successful in discovering these, then the ankle band has done part of its job.
A snorkel is a plastic device that helps swimmers breathe while swimming. This piece of equipment helps the swimmer practice keeping his or her head in one position.
A beeping clock attached to a swimmers cap or goggles helps them maintain a certain arm tempo or speed. As each beep is heard, their next stroke should be taken.
A type of rubber swimming fins, zoomers are cut off fins with the holes in the bottom. They help make the swimmer kick faster, but at the cost of working harder.