The bare minimum to get you through the swim leg of a triathlon is a pair of togs and a pair of goggles, but having a correctly fitting triathlon wetsuit will make you sit higher in the water and make swimming faster and easier for you. What other training tools can assist you through the swim leg and preparing for it?
Wetsuits revolutionised triathlon by allowing swimmers to swim faster and easier through the water. They also kept the swimmer warm and gave them confidence. The speed advantage came by putting the swimmer in a better (more horizontal and higher) position in the water rather than sunk down in the water with their legs dragging behind them.
Triathlon wetsuit manufacturers create wetsuits that do this by using slightly thicker more buoyant rubber where your body needs more lift (your chest, core and thighs). The technology used in a triathlon wetsuit is a lot more technical than the warmth provided by the dive suit you wear collecting seafood, where you don’t need to be buoyant as you want to sink down to get the paua or crayfish.
I use, recommend and endorse Blue Seventy wetsuits, but any of the major triathlon wetsuit manufacturers in the Aotearoa market – Blue Seventy, Orca and 2XU (‘two times you’) are good quality reliable wet suits.
A good quality pair of goggles are a god send for both training and on event day. The goggles will keep the water out of your eyes, whether it is the chlorinated water at the swimming pool or the salt water at Pandora Pond or some other training venue.
I advise most competitors to have two pairs of goggles and always take them with you to training sessions and events. If you were to inadvertently break a strap as you put them on, you can simply utilise your spare pair to continue uninterrupted with your training or event. I tell people to get one of the two pairs with a mirror or dark/smoke type of lens to cut out some light to use outdoors on bright sunny days. The second pair I recommend to have yellow/amber, pink, blue or some other light enhancing lens, which can be worn indoors or on an overcast/cloudy day. This lens allows extra light in so you will be able to see more clearly.
You can no doubt get a good range of goggles at your local swimming pool, but I use, recommend and endorse Blue Seventy goggles. For females and males with smaller heads the Siren model is particularly good. It has a different shaped lens to account for the higher cheek bones and is narrow across the bridge of the nose to ensure a comfortable fit. It also has a 180° field of vision which allows you to see easily in all directions. The Hydrovision and Vision models are also great unisex goggles that fit a range of sizes and also provide the 180° field of vision.
Hand paddles slide onto the hand with finger and wrist straps that increase the surface area of the hand to increase strength during the catch and pulling phases of your swimming stroke. You need to be very careful with their use and not over do things, hence there is only a small amount of the workout done with them on.
The pull buoy is a buoyant tool that you hold between your legs They come in various shapes and sizes (as seen below). You hold it firmly between your thighs and avoid kicking as you swim with it. This set puts the focus onto your arms and the forces your arms to propel you forward.
If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.
Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.
Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.
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Coach Ray is the author of the successful 12 Weeks to an Ironman Swim PB – Swim Faster with Smart Training eBook.