Swim Equipment Choices For Your Ironman Training and Racing

by Pool Builders on 01-01-2006 in Articles

Your Ironman swim-equipment includes some items that are optional and some that are essential.

Optional for training are pull buoys, hand paddles, kick boards, and swim fins...

PULL BUOYS-Like most rookie swimmers with low body fat, my legs would sink way to low in the water. I assumed I needed the buoys to keep my feet up and my body in a more or less stream-lined position. They also gave me a false sense of security and put added stress on my arms and shoulders.

HAND PADDLES-Quite often these are used in combination with pull buoys. Using these two together gave me shoulder injury and I missed 2 weeks of training in the pool.

KICK BOARDS-I just dreaded these things. Maybe in about 5 minutes I could do one length in the pool, but sometimes I would actually go backwards. If someone ever tries to hand you one of these... RUN!! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

SWIM FINS-These can be useful when used at the proper time. When I was really concentrating on a particular drill, which sometimes meant slow forward speed, I would use swim fins.

CONCLUSION: I have used all of these pieces of swim equipment, and would suggest you don't use any of them except for maybe swim fins when working on your stroke. Learn the proper balance and buoyancy without any swimming aids and you will be far better off. Plus kicking isn't really that big of an issue for your Ironman swim if your swim stroke is smooth and efficient.

****NOTE I have no wish to undermine any swim coach or the training plan he has devised. I am just passing on to you what I have discovered over years of doing all the wrong things in the pool.

SWIM SUITS-Don't make the mistake of spending big money on swimsuits. On average I went through about four pair in a training year. If you are pool training (and probably most of you are) chlorine makes no distinction between expensive and bargain priced swim suits. It eats them all equally.

SWIM GOGGLES-It would be wise to try several different types of swim goggles. When you find a pair that feel really comfortable, don't leak, and don't fog up---put them away for your Ironman. I would recommend the large style of swim goggle that gives you wider vision. Also I would get them tinted in case of direct sun or reflection that can be very irritating.

LENS ANTI-FOG-Just to be safe, I always used this. It can't hurt to be cautious. Put it on your swim glass lense race morning to "guarantee" you won't have fogging problems.

WETSUITS-You can and should use these in every Ironman race, unless of course your first race is in Hawaii or some other tropical location. They do tend to give you more speed, because there is less friction, but the main function is to keep you warm. They can be expensive, but I would consider giving the internet a try. There are many very good companies that sell quality wetsuits and are knowledgeable about their product.

NOTE:As a rule, wetsuits do feel a bit tight and constricting out of the water, but are more comfortable "in" the water. So, don't automatically think it is too small for you because it feels tight.

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