The Ultimate Guide to Open Water Swim Essentials

Open water swimming can be daunting for so many reasons; it’s often cold, dark and unpredictable in the open waters -- but it can also be really fun and often more challenging and satisfying then swimming in a pool because of the elements. There’s a chance to see underwater wildlife and it’s a great workout!

Having the right gear is essential to having a great experience. Here are five essential items to get you started in open water swimming --  all of which can found on

1. Swimwear: The proper swimwear is essential to feel comfortable in varying water temperatures. For colder temperatures a wetsuit, neoprene socks or a neoprene swim cap might just save your swim and your body from being too cold or event freezing. For warmer water, a simple latex cap, lycra swimsuit or two-piece training bikini will do the trick. Make sure to check the water temperature day of for proper swimwear planning.  There are suits for a variety of temperatures and you should absolutely dress accordingly.

2. Open Water Goggles: Having a great fitting pair of open water specific goggles makes all the difference. Open water specific goggles have some key features to improve visibility and comfort in the ocean and fresh water elements. They have a special coating to help you see in different bodies of water and there are varying tints to improve sighting in different light throughout the day. They are generally a bit bigger and bulkier then pool goggles making them a little more rugged and with broader view.

3. Safety Device: Having some sort of marker on you is extremely important if you are swimming alone or in a small group. A bright colored swim cap or an orange colored swim buoy are perfect for helping other swimmers, boaters or lifeguards to spot you from afar.

4. Nutrition: Packing a snack for a lengthy open water swim is essential. If you are going to be out on the water for more than 45 minutes, I would suggest sticking a gel in your suit so you can keep your blood sugar levels even while you train. Swimming and especially open water swimming burn a huge amount of calories so proper nutrition is key. If you can’t stomach anything while you are swimming make sure to bring a sports drink, energy bar or snack along with you so you can eat when you are done training.

5. Personal Care Products: Sunscreen is essential for sunny swims because the water reflects the light more harshly. Make sure to lather up before you go out for a long swim. There are a ton of performance sunscreen brands out there with waterproof options so be search to check out which one is right for you and maybe test one out in advance before your swim. When you are done swimming having a quality shampoo and conditioner will help to rinse the elements out of your hair and keep it healthy and strong. While a good body wash will combat any sea life that may irritate your skin afterwards.

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