Bathing, or swim caps, server to keep your hair out of your eyes and mouth and protect it from the effects of sun and chlorine. They also are important to the cleanliness of the swimming pool and may be mandatory in certain facilities for all swimmers. Bathing caps are one size fits all and come if a plethora of colours and patterns. They are a fabulous way to express yourself at the pool. Participation in certain events includes a bathing cap, which can be worn later, allowing you to show your pride in having participated.
Bathing caps come in three materials. Latex bathing caps are thin, light weight and relatively inexpensive. They are reasonably durable though a sharp fingernail can lead to their demise. They do deteriorate with exposure to sun and chlorine so a back-up in your swim bag is advisable.
The Lycra ® bathing cap provides the soft comfort of a fabric cap. It loses its shape as the elastic disintegrates and provides less protection for your hair to the effects of the chlorine.
Silicone bathing caps are much more durable and comfortable and consequently pricier. A silicone cap should last a season.
There are two very important reasons to wear goggles in the pool. They provide protection from the pool chemicals which tend to irritate the eyes making the red and itchy. Goggles also allow you to safely navigate the pool allowing you to properly see lane mates, walls, lane lines and markings in the bottom of the pool. Goggles with corrective lenses are available adding to their value as they allow you also to see workouts, which may be displayed.
Goggles come in many shapes and sizes and must be tried on to find the pair that is right for you. Look for ones that provide comfort around the eye socket while providing a good seal to keep the water out. Darker coloured lenses are great for swimming out doors but may make things too dull when indoors. Look for goggles providing a wide panoramic lens allowing you to see peripherally. Most now come with anti-fog and UV protection.
When adjusting your goggles find the nose bridge with the correct width, if they come with a selection of sizes, so goggles sit comfortably in your eye sockets. The elastic strap should be relatively snug so it does not roll off the back of your head when you push off the wall. Goggles should be comfortable, however, you may find they are uncomfortable the first couple of workouts until you get used to them.
Pull buoys are often used to isolate the upper body and make it work harder in a workout. The joy provided by the pull buoy is making the legs float better and giving them a little extra rest. Most are made of foam in one or two pieces. Find a pull buoy that fits comfortably between your thighs as this is where it will be used most often. The colour and style allows you to express yourself.
Kickboards will allow you to isolate your legs thereby improving their fitness. They too are made of foam and allow you to express yourself through their colour and style. Choose a kickboard that is not too large as you don’t want your upper body to be floating too high when using it, nor do you want added stress on your shoulders. You should be able to grip it comfortably and have the end of it not extend past your armpits.
Hand paddles will increase the area of your hand able to displace water backwards to make you move forward. They will increase the amount of work your arms are doing to get you moving. Be certain to choose hand paddles that are small enough so that you can maintain your stroke technique but large enough to give you that extra workload. Work carefully with hand paddles to not injure your shoulders. Hand paddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some with very specific functions such a sculling paddles and finger paddles.
Swim fins are right up there with pull buoys as happiness-inducing equipment. They strengthen your legs by increasing the surface area of your foot. They allow you to enjoy swimming fast. They come in many shapes and sizes. Chose fins that fit comfortably and are not so big as to exhaust your legs after a few lengths.
Swim snorkels are one of the newer pieces of training equipment. The snorkel is front-mounted and allows you to swim without turning your head to breathe. This balances the strokes as you swim more evenly, eases neck tension associated with breathing and allows you to focus on your stroke. Check with your coach to see if they think it would be appropriate for you and if they encourage their use in training.