As several folks have asked over the last few weeks, I wanted to put together a quick article on the kind of gear I take with me when I am doing my swim training. If for no other reason than it kind of shocked me as well. Of course it can be as simple as throwing some trunks on, but I am really trying to train the way a triathlete does so I have a little more gear than normal and when you juggle both pool and open water, it adds up.
What’s in the Bags
So first off, I divide my stuff into open water and pool gear and keep them apart. That keep things separated and allows me to separate things both mentally and by gear type. Plus something always seems like its wet or in need of washing, so it’s good to have a backup ready just in case. Doing this also makes it easier to grab and go as I keep the bags prepped and ready and depending on the day, I can go either route.
On the clothing side, I have two great suits, a Jammer from Zoot and one from TYR, the Echelon. The TYR suit is a little more durable in that its a Polyester material, so I tend to use this in the open water when the temperatures are cooler than the pool and warmer than when you need a wetsuit. The Zoot jammer is all Lycra and closer to what the tri racesuit will feel like and I would say most closely aligns to a cycling bib in terms of feel. I’m guessing I’ll go through the Zoot suit faster and it is actually meant to break down over time. Both feel great in the water, and as someone who started a little adverse to the ultra-tight suit, you really cut through the water in them.
For eyewear, I have a couple pairs of Special Ops 2.0 TYR Goggles so I keep one in each bag. They are both Polarized and good for pool or open water. They also have anti-fog built in and are designed to have a better peripheral range. I have fairly large eyes and these work pretty well for me.
On the headwear side, I now have a few swim caps, a Zoot SWIMfit and TYR. I tend to be a little matchy matchy so I wear the one that matches the goggles or the suit brand. They are all silicone based and honestly, I don’t know if latex or silicone is better, but these work just fine. I do feel a little odd wearing swim caps with flags and things on them, but to each their own.
For openwater I’m using a Z Force 3.0 wetsuit from Zoot which is awesome and while it definitely takes some getting used to swimming in a wetsuit for a length of time, temperature wise if feels great. I do have some concerns about race day and whether my long-sleeve suit will be too much and I’d be better off in a spring suit or a just to try the racesuit by itself. Time will tell and we have plenty of time to figure it out.
For all my training I depend solely on my Garmin Forerunner 920XT. I’ve been using this for quite a while and I’ve tried a lot of other watches, but I keep coming back to this one. It works great for swimming in both the pool and open water with only some minor hiccups. I definitely recommend plugging it into a computer ever now and then as this improves its ability to establish a GPS connections quickly. I’m not using a heart rate monitor when I swim now, but debating the new Garmin swim HR monitors.
The last big piece of gear I use is The Swim It. As I mentioned before, I’m a father to two boys and the open water freaks me out a bit, so I wanted some sort of PFD to use for this feature. Thankfully, the good folks at the Swim It sent me over one of their Premium models to use for the duration of the article. I haven’t got a chance to play with it a ton yet, but from what I have done it’s been awesome. I will definitely post a more lengthy review with photos and videos of it in use later. This thing has really pumped up confidence dramatically.
Carrying All This Stuff
How do you carry all this stuff you may be asking yourself? Well I have two great bags that handle all of this for me. First, a Zoot Ultra Tri Bag (2.0), which I keep ready for open water given its a little larger and has plenty of room for the wetsuit, shoes, etc. It also has a molded helmet department so this is really my double day/race day bag as well. Its also got fleece pockets for glasses, water bottle pouches, and an internal mesh organizer. Great bag overall.
Next is my TYR Apex Transition bag and this honestly could be my main bag, but its a little smaller and squeezing the suit, helmet, shoes, etc in here makes things a little tight. It does have a dedicated wetsuit pocket on the bottom, but I tend to use this as my wet/dry pocket to keep things isolated. This has primarily become my single sport bag, so to the pool, for big runs, long rides, etc. Very light, durable, and plenty of pockets and pouches for me.
So there are the bags. Its sounds like a lot of stuff and it is, but its all getting used so thats the important part. Keep those questions coming!