Ear Plugs

I (Manda) have recently noticed that my right ear always seems to have water stuck in it post swim and occasionally I also suffer from an inkling of pain in there post swim.

There have also coincidentally been a few bits on social media re surfers ear so taking that and the pain into consideration I thought it was about time to invest in some ear plugs.

I put word out of “outdoor swimming society” and “did you swim today” on facebook asking what people recommended and why.  Below are some (there were loads – thanks all!) that were recommended.

From the recommendations it seems that the key requirements for ear plugs are:

Functionality – They work! i.e they stop the water coming in

Comfortable – you want to forget you are wearing them and they stay in!

Sound permeability – They let the sound in.  Sensory deprivation can be alarming in open water.

Durability – you aren’t going to have to buy new ones regularly

Affordability – There is a large range but you want value for money

As with most things in life there isn’t a one solution works for all, so the advice from OSS members was to start cheap and then work up if not getting the desired results.

Please feel free to add comments if you have other recommendations or wish to add any comments on the ones already featured

Blu Tack (yep – someone recommended blu tack!)

Where to buy: any good stationers!

£1 a pack!

Positive: Cheapest you will find.  Easily replaceable.  Mouldable.

Negative: Not sure whether the manufacturers/ear specialists would recommend in ear use!  Also can leave behind small bits of the tack.



Where to buy: High street pharmacists and various online outlets


£4 for 3 pairs

Negatives: Don’t last long and can’t hear anything once in.

Positive: Do the job. Mould to the ear.


Where to buy: Decathlon


£2.49 for 2 pairs

Positives: Come with draining case. Brightly coloured so easier to find if lose.

Negatives: None!



Where to buy: Sports direct and various online retailers


£3 for 1 pair

Comment: “They do the job” 

Zoggs (adult and junior)

Where to buy: Various online retailers.

Adult: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/zoggs-aqua-plugz-1/

Junior: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/zoggs-junior-aqua-plugz/


Positive: Cheap and comfortable

Negative:  Feedback from OSS members suggested varying levels of durability.

Tip: try the children’s ones if not getting on with the adult ones.


Speedo Biofuse

Where to buy: speedo direct or other online retailers:


£7 a pair

Positive: Affordable. Come in variety of sizes. Can hear better than with other under £10 options.

Negative:  Very rigid/hard.




Ear candi


£15 – £20

Positive: Quick to do and surprisingly easy.

Negative: Not ready to go out the packet.



Where to buy:  Directly from SurfEars


£50 a pair

Negative: Priciest non personalised on market

Positive: Strap to keep pair together.  Still can hear. Come in 3 size options.


Finis SwimEars

Where to buy: Online retailers or direct from finis.



Positive: can hear decent amount with in.  On a string so less likely to lose.

Negative: Costly.



Swim Ears

Where to buy: Directly from swimears


EUR 60

Positive: Easy to use.  Durable. Come in 3 sizes.

Negative: Found it hard to work out how to put them in.


Specsavers custom made plugs

Where to buy: Go into local Specsavers


Negative: 3 week wait for manufacture and then might not be right so might have to go through another 3 week wait.

Positive:  Affordable high-street accessible personalised option.


Local Hospital

This can range in cost and might need a GP referral but definitely appears to be the cheapest option if you want someone to make you customised plugs.


Alternatives to ear plugs. 

If you don’t get on with earplugs then there was some other suggestions:

  • Neoprene hats/2 hats.  This helps stop the water getting anywhere near the ear but might not be as effective as ear plugs but worth a try if you don’t get on with plugs.


  • Earol swim tea tree oil spray.

Apply pre swim.  Preventative.  Natural spray.


  • Swim Ear

Apply post swim to dry up water.


  • Swim seal

Apply pre swim.  Preventative.  No alcohol.







Prescription goggles


The BBC published an article recently (see here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-39568781) about a lady losing her sight in one eye after an eye infection. There was some advice about contact lenses and swimming was mentioned:

‘a rare but serious eye infection caused by a micro-organism that’s common in tap water, sea water and swimming pools’.

All people who I swim with who need glasses either wear contacts as standard or switch to contacts and normal googles for swimming. I’m the exception as I generally wear prescription goggles apart from when I’m racing.

Admittedly, initially my main reason for this wasn’t protecting myself from infection (more to avoid having to faff around putting contacts in and ordering contacts) but as a result I have tried out a lot of the prescription goggles on the market.

Here are some I have tried / some I have seen recommended by several different people on DYST / OSS but if you have any feedback on the below or other recommendations then please put in comments.



The View Platina are my go to favourite. They are cost effective, last well and come in black or blue lenses so suitable for all pools and all weather. You can buy the matching strap and nose piece but I have always just used an old one I had.  You order individual lenses so you can have different prescriptions for each eye if needed.  A lot of sites only offer the black version but Jackson Sports have both and are run by a friendly team who will check stock etc for you.


1 x Lens cost: £8.00 (current price at Jackson Sports)

Total goggle cost (2 x lenses and brand specific strap and nose piece): £24.50 (current price at Jackson Sports)


2017-04-20 05_58_36-Prescription Swimming Goggles _ Optical Goggles _ Speedo

I originally used the Speedo Pulse prescription lenses which are very similar to the View ones.  They then seemed to stop doing them so I tried out their Mariner googles, which are their cheaper* pair and you have to have the same prescription for both lenses.  These didn’t work well with me and leaked badly.  The good news is the Pulse ones are back on sale on the Speedo site, along with a couple of new prescription goggle options, but are more expensive than the View for what I believe to be the same lenses, so I think you are better off purchasing the View lenses.

*cheaper short term but not long term if you have to keep buying the full pair of goggles at £20 rather than just buying replacement lenses when needed.



1 x Lens cost: £11.00

Total goggle cost: £33.00


1 x Lens cost: n/a

Total goggle cost: £20.00


download (2)

I really liked the look of the Eagle as they appeared very similar to the Zoggs Predator Flexes that I am a massive fan of and give you an increased field of vision unlike the standard prescription goggles available.  I just didn’t find these comfortable on my small(ish) head but lots of people love them.



1 x Lens cost: £9.49 (current price at proswimwear)

Total goggle cost: £35.00 (current price at prescription swimming goggles)

High street alternatives

Boots and Specsavers do offer prescription goggles, however I can’t find anything on their site. Prices sounds comparable, if not cheaper than the above, based on what people on OSS/DYST have advised so always worth checking them out.

Other places to buy:

http://www.prescription-swimming-goggles.co.uk/swimming-goggles.html – this site sells the View, Speedo, Aquasphere and lots of others, however you have to buy the whole goggle (2 lenses and kit) from them so you might be better off sourcing elsewhere if you only want the lenses.

https://www.mailsports.co.uk/goggles/prescription-goggles – sells the Speedo, View and Aquasphere, as well as Sable and Swan.

http://shop.swimmingwithoutstress.co.uk/sws/swimming-goggles/prescription-lens-goggles.shtml – stocks the Aquasphere Eagle and View Platina.

https://www.simplyswim.com/departments/AdultGoggles/Prescription.aspx  –  stocks the View, Speedo and Aquasphere.

A Mermaid’s Christmas wish list

The festive season is fast upon us and if any mermaids are looking for ideas of what to ask Santa for, we have done some research for you!

Gift ideas get more expensive as the days of Christmas progress!

First day of Christmas:

A nice little stocking filler that brightens up any outfit, bag or hat.

“I’d rather be a Mermaid” badge

“Support your local lido” patch


or if badges aren’t your thing what about temporary tattoos.  I (Manda) think these are so cute and could easily be worn where only seen when swimming.. but then that would be waste!

Mermaids tattoo

Vintage swimmer tattoo


Second day of Christmas:

Now at Team Mermaids, despite our love of water, we are not all that keen on washing up but this tea towel is so cute we couldn’t resist.

Bathing beauties tea towel


Post cold swim every mermaid needs a cup of tea and this tea pot makes every cup of tea taste better.. we hope!

Swimmer Teapot


Third day of Christmas:

How about a bit of swimspiration, whether be pool based:

Dara Torres: Age is just a number – Dara’s tale of making a coming back and competing at the Olympic Games aged 42 just two years after having had a baby.

Or open water based:

Lynn Cox: Swimming to Antarctica – Lynn’s extraordinary story of her cold water swimming adventures culminating in her swim across the Bering Strait at the high of the cold war.

Both of these ladies are Team Mermaid’s heroines and their books are a fantastic read. (Reviews here)

Fourth day of Christmas:

It’s winter time so that means any excuse to wear a Pivo hat (The hats knitted by our friend Paul “Pivo” Tannahill) but because not everyone can get their hands on the exclusive Pivo hat here is an alternative



A Team Mermaids swim cap is a must! Contact us if you want one (cost = small donation to charity of Team mermaids choice)


Fifth day of Christmas:

It has to be the Team googles – Zoggs predator Flexes.  You can never have too many pairs.  Team Mermaids have never been able to justify the cost of these special light reactive pair (which go from clear to tinted depending on the level of sunlight) but it is Christmas after all!

ZOGGS predator flex reactors


Sixth day of Christmas:

No Christmas stocking is complete without a new costume.  I (Manda) am not sure I could pull this off… I mean who can but what a costume:

Pizza costume


If you are looking for something a bit more classic (i.e. something that wouldn’t cause Katie to disown Manda) choose something like this:

Speedo costume


If we were to compromise on our tastes in costumes we might end up with something like this:

Urban kitty costume


For our Mermen readers how about these? (Chosen by Brian)

Top Bloke trunks


Seventh day of Christmas:

Mermaids need to keep wrapped up warm when they are not in the water and what could be more perfect that this scarf with swimmers on!

Silk swimmer scarf


Eighth day of Christmas:

Sticking with accessories and out of the water clothing, Early Bird swimmers do some really nice gear and these tanks and t-shirts are perfect for swimmers.

Female tank

Male t-shirt


Also check out these t-shirts from lost lanes which are a fun alternative.

Mean girls mermaid t-shirt

I’m really a mermaid t-shirt


Or if you are a little sadistic you might fancy this skirt.

Jellyfish skirt


Ninth day of Christmas

Mermaids need plenty of bags to carry their stuff around.  If yours is looking a bit scruffy these are the perfect replacement.

Vintage swimmer tote


Vintage beach tote


This is our favourite rucksack for lugging our kit around.  Manda, Katie and Kate all have this one in different colours!

Speedo Rucksack


Tenth day of Christmas:

For those winter days when you want to reminisce about amazing summery lido swims..help those memories along with these gorgeous prints:

Lido time print


Brockwell Lido print


or if you fancy something a little bit more “motivational mermaid” like then here is our fav:

“Always be a Mermaid” print


Eleventh day of Christmas:

Team mermaids have been lusting after a Blue Seventy Sleeveless Helix.  Hopefully Santa is feeling generous..

Sleeveless Helix


Twelfth day of Chrtistmas:

After our trip to Slovenia with Strel there was a lot of chat about this trip.  Unfortunately due to various reasons none of us have made it out to the US for the trip.  One day!

Lake Powell with Strel Swimming


Swimtrek used to do a trip to Finland, which sounded amazing but sadly they stopped before any of us (apart from Suz) made it on the trip.  I (Manda) recently found this company who offer trips in Finland so something that I definitely want to do in the future.

Swimming Holiday Finland


Let us know if you have any other Christmas ideas..until then Happy Holidays!

Essential pool kit

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!

Evidence of a hard days swimming


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.

Lewis Pugh: 21 yaks and a speedo

I (Manda here… Katie was with me at the talk) have been aware of Lewis for some while. I mean you can’t really ignore a man who has swum at 90 degrees north aka the NORTH POLE, for no less than 1 kilometre and 18+ minutes and who decided it would be a great idea to climb up part of Mt Everest with a boat and then go for a dip at altitude before coming back down. So when the opportunity to hear the man speak came up it was a simple Yes. The talk took place at the National Geographic society, which Lewis, a former maritime lawyer, is a patron.

Yes Lewis’ talk was focused around his most memorable/challenging swims, which was shown by the number of swimmers in the audience, but ultimately these swims are just a platform to highlight the environmental campaigns he is raising awareness for and additionally, the life lessons he has learnt and is imparting onto the audience. I challenge any non-swimmer to go listen to the man and not be inspired.. maybe not inspired to throw yourself into water at -1.7 degrees, but be inspired to do something, anything to make a change. After the talk we got an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of his latest book, “21 yaks and a speedo”, which judging by the queue that promptly formed, 99% of the people at the talk decided to do!


Here is my review:

I was able to read and finish the book in a short period of time, namely traveling to/from Guernsey last weekend. There are no cliff hangers and it isn’t one continuous story to keep you reading, it was more just so enjoyable to read that I wanted to just keep reading. It often felt like you were reading a mate’s stories (probably because a lot of my friends are equally silly with their challenges!!). The book is split up into 21 chapters, aka Yaks and each one tells of a different adventure. Additionally, each chapter has a different quality associated with it, hope, blame, etc etc and any reader can take anyway some practical advice from the book.

The below are some of my favourite quotes from the book:

· Never plan for victory and defeat in your mind at the same time
· Don’t look for other people to validate your dreams. If it feels right, just go for it.
· Thoughts alone won’t make extraordinary things happen. But nothing ever happens if you don’t visualise it first.

I love reading these types of books but the difference between this and some other adventure writer books is that I actually liked Lewis at the end. There is an argument to say in order to succeed at these types of challenges you have to have qualities that make you seem like a “douche” but Lewis proves otherwise.

A sign of how good a book is can easily be judged by the amount of people you want to read it. I want EVERYONE to read it. I have already passed it on to a colleague at work and have been preaching the words of Lewis to another. Has it inspired me to do another big challenge?…not quite but I am tentatively swimming in that direction.