One of the great things about swimming is that it does not require a lot of equipment and what it does require is generally low cost. This guide will help you determine what you need, and choose the best equipment for you. If you swim at a public lap pool chances are that some of the equipment is already there for you to use. Equipment covered includes:
Whether you are male or female you will need at least 2 good practice suits. One can suffice, but 2 is better if you swim on consecutive days. It's more comfortable to put on a suit that is dry than a suit that didn't dry after your previous workout.
Suits come in a variety of fabrics and blends. Most people swim in a pool that is treated with Chlorine or similar chemicals. It's important that fabrics can take the chemicals without fading or deteriorating quickly. Also look for suites will a high percentage of lycra or other stretching material. This will give you the tightest and most streamlined fit.
Styles for men's swimsuits vary from ultra brief bikinis to full pants. Find what is comfortable for you. The key to mens suits is choosing a suit that is sleek and not baggy. Don't try to swim in your stylish beach trunks. Yes, you will work harder with the extra drag, but it will not help to improve your swimming technique.
Woman's suits have a large variety of sstyles. In general, a one piece suit is best, but two piece suits made for triathletes will also work. Make sure the neckline is not too low cut or it will scoop the water as you swim. Also consider your build and the cut of the back a "fly back" or "diamond back" generally holds the suit in place the best for swimmers.
Rash Guards are named for their use with surfboards, but are great for any water sport that is performed in the sun. The design is simple. It's a lycra blend stretchable long sleeved shirt. Rash guards, or sun gaurs as they are sometimes called can save you from sunburn. They can also protect you from stings if you are swimming in open water.
Whether your hair is long or short a swim cap is always a good idea. It protects your hair from chemicals, keeps it out of your eyes, and adds a small amount of warmth. There are three basic materials used for swimcaps: latex, silicon and lycra. A latex swim cap is inexpensive and is the most common type around. However, latex caps don't last as long as other materials, and they tend to stick together and sometimes rip when you try to separate them or put them on. An alternative to latex is the silicon swim cap. These are thicker and more durable. They last a lot longer, don't stick as much and are easier to put on. While they don't have quite as much stretch as a latex swim cap, they are more durable and do not rip. The third options is a lycra swim cap. These are made of similar fabric as your swimsuit. They are easy to put on an comfortable to wear. Unlike latex and silicon swimcaps, the lycra caps do not cut down on waterflow. The chemicals in the water will continually circulate around your hair, so if that is a concern go for latex or silicon to limit the water flow and protect your hair better.
Finding the perfect pair of goggles can seem challenging. However, once you have them your swimming enjoyment will greatly increase. Some people prefer to have goggles that fit right into the eye sockets. Other swimmers prefer a larger goggle with more padding. Try several different types to find your match. Once you find it buy several pair. If you swim outdoors get goggles with tinted lenses to help block the sun glare. If you swim indoors, a clear lens is preferred to let in more light.
Some swim coaches and swimmers prefer to avoid kickboards altogether. Others use them as a valuable tool. We tend to think that they can be useful in some cases, particularly for swimmers that are just learning to do intensive workouts. The kickboard gives the swimmer an opportunity to rest part of their body. Whether rounded or pointed, kickboards should be a comfortable size. Look for kickboards that shed water quickly so it's easy to pack and leave the pool quickly.
There is only one reason to use swim paddles; to build strength. Many swimmers and coaches claim they will help to improve technique, but because they create more resistance, the improvement to swim technique can't be fully developed. However, if you are trying to build strength and muscle endurance then paddles are a good tool to use. Some swim paddles are a flat square with surgical tubing pushed through holes. Other swim paddles are contoured to fit the shape of your hand and nestle your fingers in grooves. Whichever style you choose make sure you are buying the paddle to match your strength level. Even if you have a large hand, you might go for a small paddle if your muscles are not very week. If you are very strong, but have small hands, go ahead and try a larger paddle to increase resistance. The key to remember is that the larger the paddle size, the harder it will be to swim with them. There will be more resistance.
If you are learning to swim and trying to "swim downhill" as some programs advise then you will want to use a pull buoy. This simple device can be clamped between your thighs, knees, or ankles to give you additional buoyancy. When using a pull buoy you will not kick your legs so strength and swim technique drills are common reasons to use a pull buoy.
If you are trying to build strength in your legs or recovering from knee problems then swim fins might be good to use. Remember that fins will create more resistance, just like paddles, so they will require more strength and effort. Since the kick is only a tiny part of your stroke for freestyle, butterfly and backstroke, then using swim fins to improve technique is not very effective. They will make you swim faster, but once you take them off the effect doesn't last.
Types of fins varies greatly. There are swim fins that are designed specifically for fitness swimmers. They are small and fit tightly to your foot. Some swimmers will also use snorkeling fins or boogie board fins. Be careful in the type of material your fins are made of. Some public swimming pools will not allow rubber fins because they can mark the bottom of the pool.
Very few swimmers use noseclips. Traditionally they are used by novices or by synchronized swimmers that flip around a lot. They can help swimmers who are sensitive to chlorine. They can also help beginning swimmers when they are learning to do flip turns.
When choosing your noseclip it should be bendable so that you can adjust it properly. Make sure it also has padding so that it will be comfortable on your nose for long workouts.