Swimming is a zero-equipment sport. To learn or to get better at swimming you don’t need any equipment. However, though, having a few could drastically improve its quality. So if you do, which equipment makes the most sense to have for adults?
The most essential swimming gear for late-swimmers are a swimsuit, goggles, flotation belt, and a chlorine removal shampoo. It is considered nice to also have a pull buoy and a kickboard to practice various strokes.
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Swimming Essentials You Would Want to Take With You to Your First Lesson
The first swimming lesson is always daunting. You would feel like preparing yourself for the battle that is to come. As someone who has been there, I can tell you that the swimming schools are well-equipped. There is not much you need to make a good impression.
Chlorine Resistant Swimsuit
Every swimming mastery book will tell you one thing. You need a proper swimsuit. Swimsuits help quite a lot without the person realizing how much. It reduces the drag force and makes the person more aerodynamic.
Why would that matter for a person who is yet to learn how to swim or who is at a beginner level? Having things like drag force on top of your body weight make swimming slightly more difficult to learn. By wearing a swimsuit, you are making sure that those things don’t affect your actual learning effort.
You would also want to make sure that the swimsuit you are choosing is somewhat chlorine resistant. Chlorine as much as it helps to keep pool water bacteria-free, hurts the swimmer’s body and the cloth. A good chlorine-resistant swimsuit will reduce the tear on your wear and protect some parts of your body.
Speedo’s Endurance+ uses a special kind of anti-chlorine fabric that doesn’t get stretched after a couple of use. Men’s Endurance+ Jammer is my personal favorite and for women, there is also Women’s Endurance+ which is a one-piece swimsuit with various backside designs.
Pair of Anti-Leaking Goggles
I don’t know if this is the case for everybody but when I was taking swimming lessons, one of the most difficult things for me was opening up my eyes underwater. No matter what I do, as soon as I go underwater, my eyes won’t open.
That is mostly the reflex our body has developed over time. Sure you could practice again and again to reserve that reflex, or you can be like me and use a pair of goggles to start looking around from day one.
Not only that it helps you to get over the reflex faster, but it also protects the eyes from the chlorine used in the swimming pools. I like the Aegend Swim Goggles for their anti-fogging and anti-leaking technology.
Quick Drying Towel
Probably all swimming schools will put this point down in their brochure that, don’t forget to bring a towel. You are going to need this for taking showers or soaking your body.
The advantage of using a quick-drying towel and why I recommend it over any normal piece of towel is that they get dry quickly. If you are going to swimming lessons on consecutive days, instead of maintaining multiple clean towels, you can have a quick-drying one, wash it at the end of the day and have it ready the next morning.
The Microfiber Towel from Rainleaf is lightweight, quick-drying, comes in a few different colors and includes a useful hanging loop.
Water Flotation Belt
In the course of learning swimming, a big step is going from shallow water to substantially deep water where you cannot just put your legs down and stand up. It can be worrying for you unless you have external support.
Flotation belts help pass this barrier very well. When you know you have something wrapped up around your waist that doesn’t sink, you will be relieved. The goal here is to use a flotation belt to overcome the fear of deep water.
AQUA Fitness Deluxe is one of those buoyant belts that you secure around your waist for aquatic activities. The balance on this belt is perfect and the belt itself is very comfortable.
Chlorine Removal Shampoo
Chlorinated pool water is literally the hair killer. It sucks natural oil out of the hair and the scalp leaving the head dry. As a result, a substantial amount of hair breaks. This is not it. It also chemically reacts with the hair causing discoloration and splitting.
Since most swimming pools use chlorine, there is not much we can do other than minimize the damage. A good way to reverse the chlorine effect is to wash the chlorine away nicely after every swim. A specialized shampoo is therefore very important.
UltraSwim Dynamic Duo Repair shampoo and conditioner set manages to do the task of removing chlorine off hair very well. It also prevents the greenish swimmer’s hair which happens to be a real thing for full-time swimmers.
For girls who need added care for their hair, Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Collection includes four extra hair remedy packets alongside a shampoo and conditioner set. Malibu C is just as good as the other one we talked about, if not any better.
Poolside Shower Slides
Walking barefoot in a swimming complex is not hygienic. It is also not comfortable, especially on winter days. You will need a pair of sandals/slides that can survive wear and tear when in touch with water.
Adidas Men’s Adilette, which debuted back in 1970 as the German football team’s shower slides, is still holding its reputation in the twenty-first century. This cloud-formed slide feels like you are walking on some pillows.
They did not forget to make Women’s Adilette, except that there are more color variations and designs to meet the fashion demand.
Vented Swim Bag
We have talked so far about all the swimming essentials. However, it won’t be complete unless we talk about how you are going to carry all these every day. We are gonna need a bag. But that cannot be just any bag.
The Big Mesh Mummy from TYR is air vented sports backpack. suitable for carrying wet and sweaty clothes. Several compartments on this bag make it very possible to carry a handful of swim gear and a water bottle.
Some Nice-to-Have Swimming Equipments to Rig Your Way Up to a Good Swimmer
Now we come to the most interesting part of this article. Although the title says “nice-to-have”, many people would straight-up say that they are just as important.
Latex-Free Swim Cap
Chlorinated pool water is dangerous for hair. To make it a little less harmful, we suggested earlier that you regularly use chlorine removal shampoos. But you can go a step further and try to make sure those water doesn’t touch your hair at all.
Swim caps are designed to minimize water touching the hair. Although it is not going to prevent one hundred percent of water, it does a fairly decent job. Combine that with a nice shampoo afterward and your hair will flourish.
Brand plays a big role here for swim caps. The famous Speedo Swim Cap is very capable of keeping the hair dry. It is vetted by thousands of professional swimmers. It does not contain any latex and does not pull hair.
Kickboards are one of my favorite types of swim gear. During my earlier days in swimming, my instructor gave numerous exercises with the kickboard. My leg strength has improved so much ever since that now I can see why.
Immobilizing the arms on a floating surface and using the legs to move forward can help both in gaining strength and fixing the technique. With that, you can literally feel how to kick for a better push force.
TYR Kickboard is made of stiff EVA foam and measures 20 inches in length. It doesn’t absorb water and therefore lasts for an extended period of time.
Pull Buoy Trainer
A pull buoy is held between the thighs to neutralize leg motion and improve the upper body action. It is like a kickboard but for the legs. Where you use the kickboard to pause using your arms, you use a pull buoy to pause your legs.
Buoys help focus on the hand techniques and the body rotation. It is important for a swimmer to practice it because leg kicks are energy-hungry. You need to switch up your kicks for front crawls every once in a while in your swims, or otherwise, you will be breathless in minutes.
Speedo Pull Buoy is made of soft EVA foam and it balances the hips and the legs nicely at the surface of the water.
Fins are a pair of blades that adds more propulsion to the kicks to develop leg strength. They usually float on water and therefore your legs stay at the water surface more effortlessly.
If you have this problem that your lower body keeps sinking, a set of fins can help with that. Of course, it is not a permanent solution but once you practice with it for a good amount of time, your body will remember it.
The Long Floating Fins from FINIS are closed heel fins for all categories and ages of swimmers. Made of soft lightweight rubber, it doesn’t feel like you are wearing something on your feet.
Pair of Paddles
Paddles are the fins for your hands. It allows you to push more water to go forward and improve the technique. You learn a lot about the rotation and feel which angle generates the strongest push.
My favorite pair is Speedo Nemesis Contour because of its contour and scallop design. It just feels right on the hand. There are multiple straps on it but the finger strap is often sufficient enough.
If you are familiar with the guitar, you probably know what a metronome is. It regulates the pace so that you don’t go faster or slower than the desired rate.
The swimming tempo trainer does the same. It beeps at a configured tempo so that you can try to be consistent with your rate of strokes per minute. It trains your natural actuators to work in harmony.
FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro comes in three modes and is adjustable by 1/100th of a second. It comes with a clip for the swim cap but you can just tuck it underneath a cap without it.
Accessories to Throw into the Mix for a Luxurious Swimming Experience
One way or another, accessories are helpful. Here I have listed down a few that I believe can only make your swimming experience richer. They are categorized as “luxury” items because you can definitely live without them.
Pair of Swimming Headphones
If you are not already incorporating music into physical activities, you are missing out on a great deal. Music can help you channel your energy to do a few extra closing laps, without which you wouldn’t dare to do it.
The problem here though is that to listen to music underwater, you will need a different kind of setup. Why? Most mp3 players and smartphones are not swimproof. Please be aware that waterproof and swimproof are two different things.
Let’s say it is waterproof. You will still need a pair of new wired headphones that are swimproof. Wireless connections like Bluetooth or WiFi do not work underwater.
AfterShokz Xtrainerz solved the problem by featuring an mp3 player built into the device itself. It uses bone conduction to transmit the music to the ears meaning there is no wire. It can be kept submerged in water for 2 hours straight without any technical problem.
Smart Swimming Watch
Most smartwatches are swimproof these days. This means you can take them for a swim and measure a couple of useful metrics. This is great but if you are serious about measuring your swims right, you will need a specialized device.
Garmin Swim 2 is called the Apple Watch killer when it comes down to swimming. It has features like SWOLF, stroke rate, and staying on pace, which you wouldn’t find anywhere. These combined with Garmin’s accuracy makes it a solid device for swimming.
There are two swimming modes available; pool water and open water. What I found very interesting is that in open water mode, it uses a full-featured GPS to measure the metrics.
Breathing in water takes some getting used to. As a beginner, it was the case for me that I couldn’t focus on breathing and technique both at the same time. I always end up compromising one for the other.
A swimmer’s snorkel can solve this problem. It enables you to keep your head always down in the water but breathe normally through the pipe that stays above the water. It is a great way to practice different strokes and try to make them right.
FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel features a one-way valve that flows the water out so that water doesn’t enter the mouthpiece when you want to breathe. Unlike typical snorkels, this one is center-mounted and easier to balance.
Waterproof Action Camera
Action cameras are fun. It allows swimmers to capture their big swimming moments. It gets even better when you take this to open water like a sea and start exploring underwater life.
GoPro HERO10 is the most versatile action camera on the market featuring a whooping 5.3K60 or 4K120 video recording capability. It is waterproof up to 10 meters right out of the box. Paired with a waterproof case, it can go down to 60 meters.
Myofascial Lacrosse Ball
Our muscles get tired by swimming. If you are a frequent swimmer, you might have some muscle soreness carried over from the last day’s session. There are a couple of ways you can relieve this soreness faster.
The most spoken-out way is probably a foam roller and no question that it is effective. But foam rollers are inconvenient to carry around.
The Lacrosse Balls from Kieba does pretty much the same; creates self-myofascial release (SMFR). Except, it has the size of a tennis ball and it allows pinpointing small unreachable areas.
Would You Need Different Gear for Open Water / Cold Water Swimming?
Open water swimming is not very different. If your plan is to learn from a pool but then head to a big lake or an ocean for fun, the gear we talked about should already suffice. But I would propose to do a few things differently.
The first one is the swimsuit. If you are more into open water, especially cold water swimming, I would switch up the recommendation for a wetsuit.
O’Neill Reactor II (Men’s Reactor II and Women’s Reactor II) is one I can recommend. It is an entry-level 3mm wetsuit made of neoprene and will keep you warm regardless of how cold it is.
The same I would do for the swim cap as well. I would probably look into something like the O’Neill Neoprene Beanie just because it is thicker and warmer.
If you live in a warmer country, regular swimming pool attire will be enough for your open water adventures.