Unfortunately for us from the end of October…ok maybe beginning of October to April, cold water swimming just isn’t possible due to the distance we need to train so we defect to the heated pools of London. Here is the essential bits of kit we use.
There are many a name, Bathers (Guernsey), Togs (Australia), costume (a theatre somewhere?), for the piece of material that adorns you whilst bathing (I knew bathers was the correct one), likewise there are many an option for cossies.
Manda: Due to the long distances we are often covering in training, I prefer a thinner/softer strap to avoid chaffing. One of my favourite brands is funkita, an australian brand that is often loud and colourful.
Katie: Now I am less a fan of the colourful costume so go more for the black, navy, grey colour pallet when picking costumes. Often I do not have the luxury of choice though as I am quite often know for forgetting my costume and then having to buy one at the pool. This has led to quite a few colourful additions to my swimming wardrobe. In terms of brand I normally go for speedo endurance material as I find they really do last for ages – no more having to wear two costumes like I did when I was younger and they went all baggy!
Pool goggles are often different to open water goggles, you don’t need such a range of visibility and you don’t need tinted lenses. You should always try out your goggles pre race but that doesn’t necessarily mean wearing them for every session in the pool as this could lead to you losing the anti-fog, so should be saved for best.
Manda: I wear glasses during the week and don’t want to be putting in contact lenses just for a swimming session so I wear prescription goggles. View are my current choice after I didn’t get on with the latest iteration of speedo’s prescription goggles.
Katie: I wear my contact lenses all the time so I just use the same goggles for pool swimming as I do for open water. My favourite are the Zoggs predator flex. We often refer to these as the ‘team goggles’ as loads of people we know race in them. I agree with Manda though, even if you wear the same type of googles in the pool and in open water, best to save a newish pair for race day.
A cap is essential kit for keeping your hair out of the way (and for co-ordinating with your costume).
Both: the Team Mermaids cap!
We both have quite long hair and one question we were asked recently is how do you keep your hair under your hat. Now we both have different techniques for this.
Manda: I tie my hair up in a low bun and then put my cap on over this.
Katie: I leave my hair down, put the cap on and then twist my hair into two pigtails and tuck it under. This generally works for me apart from the time that my hat nearly came off in a race leaving my hair flowing behind it. I wish I has used the bun approach that day!
You can have a watch that is multi sports that covers GPS for open water swimming and does laps but often they are bigger than a pool/lap watch so better to slim down for winter training.
Manda: I currently wear a garmin swim. For ~£100 I think it is an absolute bargain. It counts my laps, which is most definitely needed when I am in front of the lane and have no idea how many laps I’ve done.. I literally push off the wall and lose count.
Katie: Not everyone trains with a watch preferring either not to know or to use the pace clock on the wall. I lost my latest watch (I have been though about four in the last couple of years) at the swimathon in April and therefore I have been swimming without one over the summer. Part of me has enjoyed the freedom of not knowing how fast or slow I am especially as the answer was generally slow. However, as I am getting more back into shape I think it is time to return to using one so I can more accurately track my progress. I have always used a cheapish ironman timex watch (c.£30). These have pretty basic functionality but I can time my laps and rest which is all I really need. After my last watch left me though Manda has persuaded me to invest in a garmin swim. I will need to take better care of this one!
Manda: Nuun. Lemon and Lime if I have to be specific. I used to suffer badly from cramp in sessions, especially those at the end of a day or after a run, but nuun has knocked that on the head.
Katie: I’m a fan of Nuun as well although drinking too much can make me a little queezy. My favourite flavours are fruit punch and citrus fruits but I am also partial to Lemon and Lime as well.