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Swimming Events Guide 2024
Cold Water Swimming,  FEATURES,  GEAR,  Gear Advice

Is it time for a spring review of your open water swimming kit?

How to check if your open water swimming kit is ready for the open water season, how to repair a wetsuit and when is it time to invest in some new gear?

Does your wetsuit still fit and is it in good condition?

A recurring theme each spring when I bring my wetsuit out of storage and put it on again for the first time is the feeling that it’s shrunk. Whatever the reason for that, the first couple of swims are tiring. The extra resistance around my shoulders is noticeable, even in the most flexible of modern wetsuits. My balance in the water is off. It takes a couple of swims to adapt. If I have an early season race, it will go better if I’ve practised swimming in my wetsuit first. 

But before I even get in the water, I do a few checks. I look for any damage and repair any small cuts with wetsuit glue before they get worse. I also check the zip to make sure it opens and closes easily. 

If your wetsuit is too far gone and you want a new one, now is a good time to invest as new models are released and by buying early, you should get maximum use out of it in its first year.

Do your goggles still have clear vision?

Also, check your goggles. I find I can get away with old and scratched goggles in the pool as long as I can see the walls and the black line at the bottom. In open water, it’s more important to have good clear vision above the water for navigation and the avoidance of obstacles. It’s worth reserving a special pair of goggles or, if you prefer, a mask, for open water.

Check your tow floats and consider investing in an adventure bag

With more venues and events insisting on tow floats, it could be worth investing in more than one of these. I like to use a lightweight one for racing (as they do make a difference and every second counts). For leisure swimming, I prefer one that allows me to carry and have easy access to my phone for taking pictures, or one that I can carry a change of clothes and a picnic for swimming adventures. Tow floats will last many years if you take care of them but can get punctured, so always check before use.

Try on your swimming costume

You don’t need any special swimming costumes for swimming outdoors but it can be fun to wear something a little different, with a splash of colour for example. For cooler water or a little extra flotation, you may want to look at buoyancy pants or Yulex costumes, which can allow you to enjoy the water for a little longer without going full wetsuit.

Other open water swimming kit to consider

Once you’ve sorted the basics, you might want to add a few extras to make your swimming life easier or more fun. These might include flip flops, water shoes, a changing robe, a flask for hot drinks, a GPS watch to track your swims and more.

With apologies to our readers in the southern hemisphere who are heading into winter, we’re excited about our water warming up and going on swimming adventures. You don’t need much gear for swimming but do choose what you use carefully and look after it.

Photos: Orca

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.