The Best Swimming Gear for Beginners
If you're new to swimming, you'll be overwhelmed by all the gear! Do you need a fancy pair of goggles? Which swimsuit is best?
To help you sift through all your options and find the best swimming gear, we've listed our top 3 must-haves, plus 6 optional items you can add to your swim bag to improve technique, build strength, and swim faster.
3 Pieces of Basic Swimming Gear
For starters, we recommend you start with at least these 3:
Your swimsuit should fit, be comfortable and be easy to swim in. This could mean a variety of factors:
For women, one-pieces or two-piece bikinis are popular, but you can also let sports bras and shorts work in a pinch.
For men, swim trunks, swim trunks (fit knee length), or classic swim trunks work well. If you choose to wear swimming trunks, make sure they fit snugly around your waist.
2. Swimming Cap
Hats are optional, but we highly recommend one for those with long hair. Wearing a hat allows hair to cover your face, reducing drag and helping you swim faster.
If you have short hair, hats are still a great option! Take advantage of these drag reduction benefits.
It's important to note that swim caps won't keep your hair dry - most caps are designed just to keep your hair away from your face, so your hair will still get wet.
When wearing a swim cap, make sure the top seam of the cap runs across the center of the head, from forehead to neck, not ear to ear. If there is a logo on the side of the hat, it should be on the side of your head!
Goggles used to be avoided by most swimmers, but they are now a must-have for swimmers of all levels. Goggles will protect your eyes from chlorine and make it easier to see while swimming.
Goggles come in all sizes and types, so be sure to try on a few to find your favorite. Your goggles should fit snugly against your face and should not fall out when you dive into the water or push off a wall. Most brands carry nose pads in various sizes to help you customize your fit. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, check out prescription goggles!
More Swim Gear Essentials
With your swimsuit, cap, and goggles ready, consider adding some extra gear to your swim bag to take your training to the next level.
Fins are great equipment for beginners, intermediate, advanced, and even elite swimmers. They come in many different sizes, shapes, colors, and flexibility, but there are two main types of fins: short and long.
The shortfin is only a few centimeters longer than your foot. Albacores are more like diving fins, they may be half a meter longer than your foot.
The longer fins are designed to help develop your underwater dolphin kick, or to use while scuba diving or snorkeling. If you are in the pool and are more focused on improving your technique, go for shorter fins as they are closer to how you actually swim.
Short fins give you a little extra propulsion to keep your body higher in the water, which can help you swim faster and improve your technique.
When shopping for your first pair of fins, choose a pair that is flexible and comfortable. The more flexible the fins, the more beginner-friendly they are. With flexible fins, you may not be as fast as with stiffer fins, but you will definitely walk faster and be able to do drills and kicks.
Kickboards are not required to make a kick set, but they are a good option for changing up kicks and practicing certain drills.
If you're on the fence about which equipment to buy first, we recommend getting a pair of fins before you buy your kickboard. You can do streamlined kicks on the abs or back for kicks without a plank!
3. Pull the Buoy
Many beginner swimmers struggle with sinking legs - this creates a lot of drag! Rally buoys help with this so you can swim faster and learn proper body position. When you use the pull buoy between your legs, it floats your hips to the surface, allowing you to move more efficiently through the water.
Some swimmers, especially beginners, can swim faster with the help of a pull buoy. While you don't want to rely on it all the time, the buoy is a great tool to help you practice your skills and adjust your body position. We strongly recommend that you use the pull buoy once you get a pair of fins.
We're not talking about your usual seaside snorkel here... with the swim snorkel in front of your face instead of to the side, it's a great addition to your technique and training mix.
Put the snorkel in your mouth, attach the strap to your head, and swim normally, breathing through the tube!
When you swim with a snorkel, you don't have to worry about turning around or holding your head up to breathe. This gives you the opportunity to focus on head position, body position, catch, and spin. It is invaluable to practice these aspects of technique without interrupting your breath.
A snorkel can also help increase your aerobic capacity if used regularly. Breathing through the tube for long periods of time is more difficult than normal breathing, which helps you develop more stamina and breath control in the water.
You will feel this immediately the first time you swim with a snorkel. We recommend starting with a 4×25 freestyle or an 8×25 freestyle. Eventually, you'll be stepping through the turns or maybe doing 50 or 75 seconds, but start small!
To really get the full aerobic benefits of a snorkel, you have to use it in a substantial workout, ideally between 30% and 50%.
Next, we have paddles. Paddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes and slide onto your hand to help increase the surface area of your hand as you pull. Think of the paddle as a fin in your hand!
Oars help you swim faster due to increased surface area, but they also increase drag, which will help you get stronger over time.
If you are an absolute beginner, we do not recommend using a racket as you are still working on your technique. Fins are your best bet until you get a paddle.
Once you get the rhythm of things and try to take it to the next level, then we recommend getting a pair of small paddles.
Ideally, you'll start with the smaller ones rather than the larger ones, since paddles put a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Using a racquet that is too large puts you at risk of injury if you don't have the right technique.
It's important to note that paddle size has nothing to do with how big your hands are. Everything depends on how strong you are! As you get stronger, you can progress to larger racquets, which may be the size of your entire hand, or slightly larger.
6. Smart Watches
Last on our list is a smartwatch! When you start swimming more, a smartwatch can help you track your laps and see your heart rate, but there's more. You also get guided workouts, which is when you'll really take your swimming to the next level.
You're not just swimming back and forth - you're following a series of movements that help you move toward your goal and maximize your time in the water.
Time is the most precious thing we have and we want to make sure we are really making use of every minute we have in the pool. If you have more questions or you plan to buy swimming equipment, please contact us.
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