When it comes to swimming gear and equipment, there’s no shortage of options to select from. Finding what you need and which pieces of swim gear will work best for you though is a different story.
Because knowing what swim equipment you need and which ones to pass on can save you some money and a headache.
In this article, we break down the various pieces of swim gear and equipment that are common on the pool deck and in the pool. And let you know what swim gear you should have, what would be good to have, and what swim gear is nice to have.
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- What is Swimming Gear?
- Why do Swimmers Train with Gear?
- Do I Need to Train with Swim Gear?
- Common Swim Equipment
- Bare Bones Essential Swim Gear
- Swim Gear to Enhance Your Workout
- Optional Swim Gear
- Swimming Product Reviews
What is Swimming Gear?
In short, swimming gear is any piece of equipment that can enhance a swimmer’s workout. Whereas some swim gear, such as caps, goggles, and suits, provide the bare essentials for swimming.
By building strength, improving technique, or developing speed in the water, swim gear has a wide range of uses.
Why do Swimmers Train with Gear?
Swimmers train and utilize swimming gear to help improve their technique.
Gear, such as paddles, can help isolate different parts of the stroke and correct any improper technique. They can provide instant feedback based on the gear so that a swimmer can correct or work on their stroke while swimming.
Swimmers also use gear to help build strength, develop their speed, and work breath control.
Snorkels aid not just with working technique but can also focus on breath control.
Adding swim gear to any practice is a sure way to mix up a workout for swimmers of any level. And they can also add just a bit of fun to a workout, too!
Do I Need to Train with Swim Gear?
Truthfully, it depends on what you’re wanting to accomplish with your swimming.
If you’re wanting to swim laps for exercise, swim gear isn’t a necessary item. Aside from a suit, a cap, and goggles of course 😉
At the same time though, swim gear can help elevate your workout to the next level. By either fixing your stroke or making it stronger.
And it may take away some of the monotony that comes with swimming a couple of dozen laps.
For those swimmers who train for competitive swimming, we do recommend utilizing swim gear for your workouts. Swim gear will make you focus more on technique and develop speed work during your sets. While building strength at the same time.
Some teams (if you’re apart of one) require certain pieces of gear. While others may supply gear for you.
Common Swim Equipment
So out of the hundreds of different swim gear that’s out there, what are some common pieces of swim equipment?
We’ve broken down a list of swimming equipment from the three pieces of gear that you 100% need. To the swim gear that will add to your workout and the equipment that you don’t need but could be nice to have.
Bare Bones Essential Swim Gear
It’s one of the reasons why swimming is a relatively affordable sport or way to exercise. You don’t need a lot to get started. And if you’re not looking to invest a lot of money but want to stay in shape, swimming ticks all those boxes.
It seems obvious but we’ll still state it. You need a swimsuit to swim in! While you can (but shouldn’t) skip the other bare essentials, you must have a swimsuit to swim.
Swimsuits come in a wide variety of styles for both males and females. And while some swimsuits are built specifically for training, others are designed more for recreational purposes.
Truthfully, you should stick with a swimsuit that you feel the most comfortable in. However, if you’re looking for recommendations, we suggest the following guidelines when picking a swimsuit:
Females, look for a swimsuit without frills or extra flowy fabric. This will create drag when you swim and make it harder to move around.
The straps should fit tight enough that they don’t slide off but not so tight that they hurt to wear. If you want to wear a two-piece, pick a bottom that has ties and a secure top.
Males, opt for jammers or speedo cuts and avoid boardshorts.
The extra fabric in boardshorts will make your hips sink and you’ll find it more difficult to move in the water.
If the speedo swim brief makes you uncomfortable, jammers might make you feel more comfortable
For more swimsuit guides, check out these guides for a breakdown of a variety of swimsuits:
When it comes to swim goggles, people either like to use them or they don’t. And while you don’t need them for splashing around and having fun in the pool, we do highly recommend them for swimming laps or training.
Related article: 7 Reasons to wear Goggles When you Swim
Swim goggles help protect your eyes not just from the chemicals in the pool but also protect them from developing an infection. This is especially important if you’re wearing contacts when you swim.
Because let’s admit it, more people pee in the pool than you think. And the last thing you want is that getting in your eyes.
Dry eyes are another common side effect of swimming with your eyes open under the water. And while it will pass, it’s not fun to deal with.
Secondly, goggles can improve your safety in the water by helping you see better. This is true for people with decent vision or those, like myself, who need a bit of visual assistance. 🙂
Related article: Can I Swim With Bad Eyesight?
Prescription goggles are great for those swimmers who want to swim with goggles but without the blurriness that comes when we take off our glasses.
Not sure where to start your goggle search? We have some resources for you!
- How to Pick the Right Swim Goggle for You
- 6 Best Prescription Goggles for Swimming
- How to Fix Common Swim Goggle Problems
Probably even more disliked than goggles are swim caps.
Everyone loves to hate on them, and look, we get it. They can be uncomfortable at times, they don’t keep your hair completely dry, and it’s hard to find caps for long/thick hair.
But a swim cap has more benefits that outweigh the negative, which is why you should wear one.
Related article: 6 Reasons You Should Wear a Swim Cap
From keeping the majority of your hair dry and protecting it from the harsh chemicals to keeping your hair out of your face (and out of the pool), swim caps have a plethora of benefits.
Not just for you but others too!
Swim caps fall into at least three different categories: latex, silicone, and lycra.
Related article: Your Quick Guide to Swim Caps
- Silicone: My favorite style swim caps are silicone ones. They last longer, don’t pull the hair as much, and tend to stretch a bit more. The downside is that they can cost a bit more, can make your head warm, and can slide off
- Latex: Cheap but efficient, latex caps conform to the head more than silicone caps but tend to pull hair more. They’re also less durable but some find that they’re not as warm.
- Lycra: This style cap is ideal for those swimmers who overheat when wearing a cap and don’t mind their hair getting wet. The breathable material does allow water in but it’ll keep your hair up and away from your face.
Swim Cap Guides For You:
No swimmer should go without a reusable water bottle.
A common swimming myth is that you don’t sweat when you swim. But you’d be surprised to know that you sweat in the water and more than you realize!
You should always have a water bottle with you whenever you’re working out. Pool or otherwise. Staying hydrated is important and can help prevent injury.
We recommend reusable water bottles at the pool, as they’re less likely to be confused with someone else’s bottle. Plus they’re better for the environment 🙂
When looking at water bottles for swimming, we’ve found that flip-top lids are the best option. Lips that need to be twisted open take longer to open and when you’re on short rest, you need all the seconds that you can get!
Flip-top bottles also have the advantage of not spilling if they get tipped over. And the mouthpiece is covered/protected when it’s not being used.
Lastly, be sure to keep your water bottle clean. Rinse it out and scrub it down at least weekly. I use the OXO Good Grips Cleaning Set to clean every bit of my water bottle.
Swim Gear to Enhance Your Workout
Aside from the basic swim equipment to get you started, swimmers utilize several other pieces of swim gear. These can enhance anyone’s workout by developing speed and power while working technique.
Again, these aren’t necessarily required for you if you want to start swimming. But they are good resources to have if you want to mix up your next swim workout.
In my humble opinion, every swim workout should have a kick set. 🙂 And while you can kick without a kickboard, they’re great pieces of swim gear for new swimmers to help develop a proper kick. Especially when paired with swim fins.
Kicking not only builds and develops your leg muscles (and your kick, of course), but it can also strengthen your balance in the water. They can also provide a much-needed break in the middle of your workout.
Related article: The Best 11 Kickboards for Swimmers
Swim fins add speed to your workout while building up the strength in your legs at the same time. You can use them during a kick set or while swimming to get the most out of fins.
They’re a great training tool that can aid in developing your kick but only if you use the correct fins.
From recreational to competitive swimmers, you can find a full breakdown of the best fins for swimmers and a guide to purchasing fins here: The 10 Best Swim Fins for Swimmers
Probably one of my least favorite pieces of swim gear, but great for strengthening your pull, pull buoys help swimmers focus on the pull aspect of their strokes. This piece of swim equipment can develop a correct swim stroke, build proper technique, and strength along the way.
On the other hand, swim paddles are my favorite piece of swim equipment. Like fins, they come in many different options, each with its own area to work. Certain swim paddles can be used for general swimming. While others are more specialized and should only be used for specific strokes or drills.
Training with paddles can develop your shoulders and arms, along with correcting your technique. Bigger isn’t always better as a paddle that’s too big for you can end up hurting your shoulders.
Related articles: A Swimmer’s Review of FINIS Freestyler Paddles and Speedo’s Power Plus Paddles
While not exactly swim equipment, a swim bag is an ideal piece of gear to hold all your belongings. Swim bags are great for storing your dry belongings, such as clothes, towels, wallet, phone, etc.
Instead of a mesh gear bag (which we’ll cover later), you can stash your gear in your swim bag as well. Just remember to dry it off well or it’ll get everything damp inside your bag.
We break down the best swim bags in this guide: 8 Best Swim Bags for Swimmers (And Water Enthusiasts)
Related Article: A Swimmer’s Review of Arena’s Team 45 Swim Bag
Earplugs & Ear Drops
Most swimmers (myself included) use ear drops after every practice to help prevent swimmer’s ear and ear infections. Ear infections are the worst and can keep you out of the water for several days until the infection goes away.
Prevention is the best way to avoid swimmer’s ear. And swimmers utilize both earplugs to prevent water from getting into their ears. To ear drops to dry out any water and restore the PH balance in the inner.
Related article: 6 Best Earplugs for Swimming: Ultimate Guide
Optional Swim Gear
Last on this list of swim gear is the more optional swim gear and equipment that swimmers utilize. We list these as optional because in our opinion they’re items you can easily do without.
We mentioned gear bags earlier with swim bags. Gear bags differ from swim bags as they’re designed to hold strictly your gear. And they’re designed to sit poolside and last through a thorough drenching.
Gear bags will keep your wet gear separate from anything dry that you brought, such as a towel and your clothes.
Find out more about the best gear bags and how they differ from swim bags here: The 6 Best Mesh Gear Bags for Swimming Gear.
We believe that while snorkels are a great training aid and do have their benefits, they’re not for everyone. They’re best for competitive swimmers to enhance lung capacity and focus on technique.
Beginner swimmers can use them but we recommend having someone there to help coach or guide them to find proper technique and balance.
If you’re swimming outside or during the winter, a swim parka is more of a needed swim gear than an optional. Parkas help keep swimmers warm before and after a swim, as they’re lined with fleece and have wind/water-resistant shells.
However, they make this list because they’re not needed for everyone. Instead, we recommend them for competitive swimmers to use at swim meets, those that get cold easily, and those who swim outside in the winter.
Related swim parka articles:
- 8 Best Swim Parkas for Swimmers
- A Swimmer’s Review of Arena’s Team Line Parka
- A Swimmer’s Review of Adoretex Swim Parka
Waterproof fitness trackers that can track your laps are a lifesaver for some swimmers. And we get it, it’s boring to count every lap. After a while, the numbers get a bit blurry and you lose count.
Fitness trackers can help with keeping track of your swims. Along with monitoring heart rate, calories burned, and more. They can be pricey though, which is why we consider them a ‘nice to have’ feature.
Related article: 8 Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers for Swimming
Waterproof MP3 Player
Much like fitness trackers can keep you from going crazy while you swim, so too can waterproof MP3 players. Gone are the days of listening to nothing but your thoughts while you swim. Now, you can add some music, a podcast, or an audiobook to your next swim.
Related article: 7 Best Waterproof MP3 Players for Swimming
Swimming Product Reviews
As a competitive swimmer, I train with and use dozens of different swim gear. From at least 5 different types of paddles and fins to a handful of snorkels, kickboards, and buoys.
I may not have trained with every brand or style out there but some days it feels like it!
That said, it does take a while to find the brand and style that works best for each swimmer. It took me 6 tries to find the pair of fins that don’t rub blisters into my feet. And probably just as many attempts to find the perfect goggle for me.
To help give you an insider’s perspective of certain gear, we’ve written various product reviews regarding swim gear and equipment. They’re all honest reviews and have been tried and tested by us.
If something doesn’t make the cut, we’ll let you know. Just as we’ll let you know the pros and cons of each piece of gear. Along with some tips on how to wear or use the piece of equipment.
It’s important to us that you get the best gear and equipment for you. Because it’s not always a ‘one size fits all’ deal.
Below are some of our most popular product reviews. For a full list of products that have been reviewed, check out the list here
Popular Product Reviews
Chevron is a current competitive swimmer with almost 20 years of experience in the pool. And although she fell into the sport by accident in her high school years, she still trains daily and competes throughout the year. She’s committed to providing guidance to all levels of swimmers and believes that everyone should know how to swim.