It’s a well-known fact that triathlon is a gear-heavy sport. Even if you’re trying to keep it minimal, the amount of gear it takes to train and participate in triathlon is mind-boggling. In this series, I plan on giving regular updates on what gear I’m using for each discipline. Not a review, just a quick rundown so I can pinpoint in time what I’ve been using, what’s working, and what needs adjusting. So with winter 2016 behind us, here’s what’s been in the swim bag.
It makes sense to first mention the bag itself. This Nike duffel is at least ten years old, and it's fine. I stuff my flip flops and fins in the shoe pouch, goggles and caps in the front mesh pocket so they can drain, and there’s an extra side pocket that I like for my keys and phone. I’d like to get a mesh bag for my swim gear, and switch to a slightly classier tote for my clothes, lunch, workstuff, etc. We’ll see….I’ve been saying that for awhile. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it?
I rotate between two suits. Both were purchased as grab bags from www.swimoutlet.com. If you aren’t familiar, that means you pick your brand and size, pay less, and the vendor sends you what they’ve got on hand. You don’t get to pick the style or color, so if that’s important for you, steer clear. If, like me, you enjoy saving money and do not care what pattern you swim in, this is a no brainer. I’ve got the TYR Endurance microback, and a Dolphin Uglies V-back. The TYR is comfy enough, but the straps are already showing a little bit of wear, which is crazy for a suit that has maybe 25 hours of use. The Dolphin suit fits me a bit better, everything stays in place when I push off from the wall, it still looks brand new, and it was cheap. Win! As an aside, these are “competition” suits, which means they have skinny straps, high cut leg holes, and no chest support. While my times are far from speedy, I certainly feel like a real swimmer when I wear these suits as opposed to a more conservatively cut fitness suit.
My goggles are the Speedo Women’s Vanquisher 2.0, and I have a couple pair. I used to love these goggles, but lately they’ve lost their charm. I find that they can be fairly comfortable, but then I have leaking issues. If I cinch them tight the leaking is sorted out, but then they press painfully into my eye sockets. The goggle lines last until lunchtime, which is always a professional look. I’m not eager to get rid of them immediately, but next time I’m buying swim stuff I’ll be trying another goggle type.
I have several swim caps, but all are Speedo Silicone. I love the silicone caps for how easy they are on my hair. No breakage, easy on, and easy off. I’ve seen reviews stating that these caps slide off their head, but I haven’t had that issue. Some people write about putting conditioner on their hair under their cap, so maybe that’s playing a part for some people? At any rate, my favorite is my Sushi Boat cap, and I’ve gotten several compliments on it.
When my workout calls for kicksets I just grab one from the stack at the REC. I do, however, have my own pull buoy. It's a TYR. I’ve written my name on it. Not really a lot to say about pull buoys, is there? Probably the most unusual thing I have in my swim bag is my set of Speedo Breaststroke fins. I bought them at the suggestion of my coach during Stroke Mechanics class last Fall. They provide nice feedback specifically for breaststroke kick, and since I like to work on more than just freestyle, I love them. They fit well and don’t hurt my feet. It is pretty much impossible to get a good push off the wall when wearing them, but it's worth it for instilling good kick mechanics in breaststroke.
And there we go, that’s what’s in my swim bag. Sometimes I feel like I can tell who the triathletes are at the pool, because they’re the ones who have a bunch of toys with them on deck. Fins, paddles, snorkels, ankle bands, piled up at the end of the lane next to a triathlon race branded water bottle. Meanwhile there’s an old dude in swim briefs without a watch and drinking water out of a refilled milk gallon, doing 100s of fly faster than the rest of us can freestyle. I bet his bag is pretty streamlined! I don’t have a bunch of gear, but I like what I do have, and I love my time in the pool.