Essential open water kit

These are the bits of kit we always have in our bags over the summer.


We have long been fans of the zoggs predator flexes and have multiple pairs each depending on the weather conditions we are swimming in.  As previously mentioned we keep some for racing best to ensure they aren’t going to be subject to fogging up.  This being said you should avoid trying anything new for race day so always practice in them beforehand even if just the once.

Hiz-viz cap

For open water swimming you need to be seen for safety reasons.  Even if at the lido it is worth wearing a bright cap to avoid some head on collisions (we’ve had a few of those!).


We’ve had some nasty chaffing over the years so this is a must have in our kit bag.  Word on the river is that vaseline can damage your wetsuit so we have always used this brand to avoid any potential damage to expensive wetsuits.

GPS watch

We both have the now ‘vintage’ Garmin 320XT, whereas Brian and Kate have the newer version: 920XT.  They are both multiple sport watches but the main difference for swimmers between the 320XT and 920XT is the indoor swimming lap counting on the 920XT. As fans of the slimline garmin swim there is no need to upgrade.. Well there  wasn’t until I (Manda) saw the 735XT.  It is smaller than the other 2 and comes in a nice celeste green to match my barely used Bianchi. It will defo be on my Christmas list!


Ok so you don’t NEED a wetsuit for open water session and sometimes it is nice to swim without the wetsuit even if it is just to save the hassle of having to put it on.  Trust me those extra 5 minutes in bed at 5:50 before a 6am lido session are welcomed but a lot of the races we do make wetsuits compulsory.  Plus they make you quicker..woop! and warmer.. Double woop!

Our current favourites are:

Blueseventy Helix  – this suit is super flexible around the shoulders so for us swimmers who can suffer with shoulder niggles this is a must.

Huub sleeveless – Katie has taken the shoulder flexibility one step further and just removed the sleeves.

Wetsuit tips:

Sizing guides on sites can be misleading! I should be a medium according to most sites / brands. So don’t be afraid to go a size smaller. Go and try it on at a testing centre.  If you can’t make sure you check return policy and wear gloves so you don’t mark suit when trying on at home.

Never zip up your wetsuit yourself.  I know it’s a bit cringey asking a stranger to zip up your wetsuit but hey it’s time to make friends! And they might be needing your help as well.

Spend time putting your wetsuit on.  You’ve finished work and rushed to the pool or its first thing in the morning and you want those extra 5 minutes in bed (see above) but it is worth investing that time ensuring that the wetsuit is on properly on the bottom half before even contemplating starting the top.  For Katie this means having the legs practically pulled up to her knees.  Doing it properly will mean when it comes to race day it is second nature to know what feels right and what will allow you to get optimal performance and comfort from the suit.

Warm hat

We like a ‘Pivo Hat’ but other options are available!  The woollier the better.

Other potential items depending on where you are swimming:

Tow float

If you are going for a longer swim or an unsupervised swim these are a great idea.  Alot of races are making these compulsory for end to end or sea swims so worth getting used to wearing one.. or you can wing it on the day like I did!

Snacks and flask

Always good to take snacks with you for after a long open water swim.  Jaffas are a fave at Team Mermaids HQ.  A flask with hot tea is also a treat if you can get up early enough to make it!

Sun tan lotion

You are outside.  You are in water.  Both make for a dodgy combination when it comes to catching the sun.  No one needs a criss crossed back for summer so whack on some factor 50.  Just don’t forget you front and face as if lido swimming you catch it off the reflection as well as on your back.



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