Essential Triathlon Swimming Equipment
All the gear to train and execute your best triathlon swim.
Just the Essentials
Let's get straight to the point
To complete a triathlon swim, you will need equipment for training and equipment for the race.
Here is our list of recommended kit:
To train you will need: Goggles, Trunks, Kickboard, Pull buoy, Scale Swimming training book
To complete your race you will need: A wetsuit (if swimming in open water), Goggles (you can use the same goggles you've used for training, but you can also buy specially designed open water googles), Trisuit, High visibility swimming cap (often given out by race organisers)
Optional additions: Hand paddles, Swimming fins, Snorkel, Sports watch.
Equipment for pool training
Swimming training doesn't need to be complicated, but having some basic bits of kit is going to be massively helpful in improving your swimming training, helping you to get the best out of your time in the pool.
Let's start off with a (very biased) favourite of ours - our own waterproof swimming books.
Waterproof swimming books from Scale Swimming
Most people go to the pool without a plan and have no idea what they should be doing. Especially triathletes, who are used to going out for a run or a cycle, where you can aim to go out to complete a certain distance or train for a specific duration.
Swimming training requires a bit more thought, specifically because 90% of your swimming speed is dependant on your technique. Due to this, planning out your sessions to include a mix of swimming drills, distance swimming and aerobic workouts will maximise your improvement in the pool.
Our swimming training books guide users through a professionally designed workout and since they're waterproof, they're perfect for throwing into your kitbag after your swimming session.
If you want more information on our waterproof swimming books, click the link:
We all know we need goggles, but which ones are the best for triathlon swimming training? Simply put, the most comfortable goggles for you will be the best, however goggles do come in a few shapes and sizes.
If you're looking for some basic, inexpensive, comfortable goggles that will see you through your pool swimming training and open water swimming, Adult hydropure goggles from Speedo are a great option. You want to reduce the glare from the sun when in open water, so clear goggles aren't a good option, hence, theses goggles are ideal (and at only £19!)
If you're more of a racer and you're looking to get an advantage in the pool (maybe you do more super sprint and sprint triathlons?), Speedo fastskin goggles are an excellent choice
If you do any serious open water swimming training, perhaps you're a regular open water swimmer, HUUB make fantastic goggles. They're comfortable, easy to through, reduce glare, have a wide vision range. Five star, 10/10.
Notable exceptions: Magic 5
We have tried out the magic five goggles using a generous discount code. I found the goggles extremely uncomfortable and broke after about 3 months. I'll stick to my speedo goggles, they've lasted for over 10 years.
A swimming kickboard is a foam flotation device used when you want to isolate your legs during training. You hold the float at the top, at the sides or using the hand holes to give the front of your body essential lift while kicking.
This stops your front from dropping in the water and allows you to breathe easier in the pool.
Training your swimming kick is essential, even for triathletes, who often want to "save their legs" for the running or cycling. Kicking effectively is the best way to keep your body in a good position in the water.
Often a favourite for new triathletes, a pull buoy is designed to be placed between your legs, lifting your hips to the surface of the water, so you can isolate your arms and rest your legs.
Pull buoys correct the biggest mistake new swimmers make.
New swimmers will, almost always, lift their heads too high in the water (usually to make sure they're not going to hit anyone as they swim forward) which causes their hips to sink. This is the same as sticking the brakes on. An effective, fast swim, is about being streamlined! Don't become dependant on your pull buoy!
Nevertheless, isolating your arms is a fantastic way to go faster in the water, to get your own pull buoy,
Swimming Trunks / Swimming costume
This is a basic one, but a big one.
If you're going on a holiday with your mates, you can swim in shorts from primark. If you're training for a triathlon, proper swimming trunks are a must. You may look fantastic in your bikini, but if you plan on swimming with any kind of speed, you're going to need support.
Switching to proper trunks and an effective swimming costume will double your speed (and then some!). You need to get a material which huggs your body, massively reducing your drag. This is what jammers and swimming costumes do. Here are some of our favourites.
For Men: Speedo Jammers & Arena Jammers
For Women: Speedo Boomstar & Zoggs Grafix
Made from Neoprene, a wetsuit supports your body to properly swim in an open water environment. A wetsuit provides two main functions. Firstly, it keeps you warm in the water. It does this by firstly allowing a layer of water to enter the suit, then this layer is heated up by your body temperature. Secondly, it provides additional buoyancy in the water which helps novice swimmers become more streamlined.
Wetsuits come in a range of different shapes, sizes and price points. Our advice is to go to your local triathlon or swimming shop, try on a few and see which feels best.
A trisuit is a specially designed fabric suit which is worn as an underlayer beneath your wetsuit which you can continue to wear as you cycle and run.
A good trisuit should not be too restrictive, but also keep everything where it should be. They have brilliant padding to support you on your cycle but not too much padding to restrict you while you're running. They also hold energy gels and bottles if needed.
When training for your first triathlon, it's a great idea to practice some open water swimming. You'll be used to the feeling of not having a wall to hold onto if you're tired, you'll understand the chop of the water and the light in your eyes. At this time, test out your trisuit. Make sure it's not too restrictive and doesn't rub.
Hand paddles maximise the push phase of your swimming stroke. Hand paddles cup and propel more water behind you, pushing you forward (equal and opposite reactions and all!). Of course, this means your stroke requires more effort therefore your muscles will build quickly using hand paddles.
We have only put them as a 'nice to have' item as the most important requirement for a new triathlete is to improve their swimming technique. Hand paddles make a minor change to your hand entry position that's best not to incorporate in your stroke.
A new addition to most swimmers list, a snorkel allows you to keep your head beneath the water while you swim (but you already knew that, didn't you?). A swimming snorkel differs from a diving snorkel as the tube goes up in front of your face, rather than to the side of your face. This is so it doesn't drag in the water too much.
There are many great drills you can complete with a snorkel but it's advisable not to use them for too long. Breathing, it's fair to say, reasonably important to mammals like us who swim and building a good breathing technique is essential.