Beginner Gear Guide: Swimming

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While many beginner triathletes have an affinity with at least one of the three disciplines (swim, bike, run), the amount of information and recommendations out there for what the best gear is can be overwhelming.

This is the beginner gear guide for swimming.


Goggles that fit well will allow you to swim longer and uninterrupted. Soft silicone gaskets and adjustable nose bridge pieces and straps will help you find that individual fit that won’t let water in without excessive tension around the head and eyes. For open water swimming, larger lenses will allow you to sight better in front as well as peripherally.

Swim Tools (paddles, pull buoy, band, etc.)

There are some great swim tools out there that will help you get the most out of each training session. Fins, paddles, pull buoys, swim shorts, snorkels, and bands are all useful for adult-onset swimmers to build fitness as well as technique.

Confidence in the water also comes from doing more and more swimming. So swimming with these swim tools can help you get through your sessions. You walk away from the session not feeling intimidated and nervous, thinking ‘I got nothing out of that except a horrible time at 5:30 in the morning’. Instead when you go for a session, you go, ‘Wow, I swam one mile today and felt great. Maybe I did that mile with fins, but I did that mile’ and then you get back doing it again and again. Before you know it you’ve done two or three months of consistent swimming. That confidence in the water starts to come with just basic time in the water.


This applies more to triathletes in temperate climates, as tropical waters don’t really allow for wetsuits (except for Cairns where wetsuits are allowed to keep jellyfish at bay…). But wetsuits make the swim easier because due to greater buoyancy you are higher in the water, reducing drag.

You can go for sleeveless if you don’t mind the cold and would rather have more mobility through your arms, thermal if you’re doing cold races, two-piece if you want a more custom fit… Wetsuits exist across a wide range of pricing, and if you only plan on using a wetsuit a few times a year it can be tempting to go with the cheapest one. However, higher-end wetsuits tend to fit better and allow you more movement through your arms and shoulders due to the materials used.

Whichever brand you end up going with, follow the sizing chart of your preferred wetsuit supplier to ensure that the wetsuit you order fits well and allows you to move through your swim stroke freely. If in doubt, get in touch with their customer service so that you can get the order right the first time.

Swim Skins

While swim skins are not absolutely necessary especially for short races, they do still improve streamlining and reduce drag by covering over your tri suit pockets and seams (especially if your tri suit is a two-piece). This won’t help you get through the swim, but might make it go faster.


Swimwear that’s chlorine-resistant is a must when swimming in chlorinated pools. Their elasticity won’t degrade with exposure to chlorine, allowing you to use them repeatedly. To prevent drag, make sure your suit is the right size for you and fitted to your body (no boardshorts!).

(Featured photo by Ashley de Lotz on Unsplash.)


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