Obviously, your major purchase in regards to swimming will be your suit. While board shorts or other baggy suits are comfortable and appropriate for casual trips to the water, the excess bulk provides significant drag, resulting in much slower swim times. They also will not provide you with the comfort and protection you’ll need when you transition to the biking portion of the race. Check online or at your local retailers for triathlon suits, which are worn throughout the entire race. “Tri-suits” are designed to dry quickly after exiting the water and are padded for extra comfort on the bike. There is a wide variety of tri-suits to choose from, including with/without sleeves, with/without a rear pocket, with/without front zipper, and several different fibers to choose from.
You’ll also need a set of goggles for the swim. The main factors you’ll be looking for in your goggles are comfort and visibility. Never purchase goggles without putting them on first, as everyone’s face is different, and the goggles aren’t going to fit you the same way they fit someone else. You should also grab a bottle of anti-fog solution for your goggles, as oftentimes the lenses aren’t as fog-proof as they’re made out to be.
Depending on the time of year you plan on swimming outdoors, a wetsuit may be an appropriate purchase. In addition to keeping you warm in cold water, a wetsuit makes you more buoyant – thus faster in the water, once you get used to swimming in one. Like nearly everything else in triathlon wear, wetsuits are available in many different styles, including full-suit, half-suit, sleeveless, and two-piece.
Other Useful Swim Equipment
Other purchases to consider are swim aids, such as flippers, hand paddles, and kickboards. While they’re illegal in the actual race, they’re invaluable when it comes to helping new swimmers develop proper form. A swim cap will reduce drag when you’re in the water, and becomes more of a necessity the longer your hair is. Most races provide you with a brightly colored cap to distinguish the starting waves.