Preparing to race – what kit do you need?

Last weekend we headed down to Devon for the Bantham Swoosh – our first proper race of the season.  Cue a furious exchange of text messages about what we needed to pack to make sure we had everything for race day.  For those of you like us who can never remember what it is you need to take with you, we have pulled together this guide.


1. Swimming costume

Pretty hard to race without this essential.

2. Goggles

We always take two pairs of goggles with us: a light tinted pair and a dark tinted pair.  This means that you can wear the goggles which are best suited to the conditions on the day.  It also means you have spare pair if the worst happens.

As I think we have probably mentioned about 100 times before our favourite goggles are Zoggs Predator Flex.

3. Hat

When you are racing you are normally given a specific race hat to wear for safety and often to differentiate between various waves.  We always take the Team Mermaids hat with us as well in case we need to double hat in cold water and for the photos ops obviously!

4. Wetsuit

If you are racing in a wetsuit through choice or because the event requires it then this is an essential piece of kit.  Over the years I have accumulated a number of wetsuits.  We have both recently purchased Blue Seventy Sleeveless Helix wetsuits and we are looking forward to testing these out.  I (Katie) prefer to race in a sleeveless wetsuit as I find it easier on the shoulders but it can be a bit nippy in colder water!

5. Watch

Not everyone wears a watch to race but we both like to keep track of time and distance especially over longer races.  We both wear the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS Multisport – thanks Santa!

6. Towel

To dry yourself afterwards!  We both use Nabaiji microfiber towels which are quick drying and don’t take up much space in your rucksack.

7. Glide

Body glide is a must remember to prevent wetsuit and costume chaffing.

8. Tow float

Some races require you to wear a tow float for safety.  Ours are from Swim Secure courtesy of Chillswim when we raced Coniston.

9. Hoodie

You often need something warm for after the swim so we take an extra hoodie.  The one shown in the photo is a custom one we had made when we did our two way Windermere relay.

10. Food

Race nutrition is not our key area of expertise so advice always welcome!  We generally take snacks for before the swim: cereal bars, bananas, hot cross buns etc.  If the race is a long one then we would also take gels for the swim.  We generally use SIS one.  Lemon and lime is our favourite flavour!

11. Water bottle

I always try and take a reusable water bottle with me so I stay hydrated before I race.  I recently purchased a 1 litre 24 Bottles reusable water bottle which is light and comes in multiple colours.

12. Flip flops

Not an essential but I like to take a pair of flip flops with me in case they are needed for walking down to the start or at the end, as well as, just for general pre race milling about.

13. Plastic bag

A plastic bag is a must to put all your wet kit in after the swim.  I normally just take a plastic carrier bag but keep meaning to invest in some kind of waterproof bag.

14. ID

Some races require ID to sign in on the day so don’t forget to take your drivers licence or similar!

15. Sun Cream

Even when the weather is so-so we wear sun cream on our exposed skin as, as you will all know, you can burn easily swimming.  Our favourite sun cream in P20 in factor 50.  You just need to apply once and it protects all day.

16. Team Mermaid Sunnies

Well you have to be optimistic about the weather.

17. Rucksack

Finally you need something to put all this stuff in.  We both own old versions of the Speedo Team III rucksack.  Manda’s is purple and mine is green so we can tell them apart!

Once you are packed it is over to the most important piece of pre race prep – what colour to paint your nails!

Happy racing everyone!

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