I’m a big fan of looking for simple, cheap ways of training and racing better. For example, train well in your old wetsuit that has a few tears in it (and bring it to the pool with you occasionally during the winter, show it a good time) rather than go out and buy a new one at the first chance. NOT that I would turn down a Vasa Trainer if someone wants me to road-test one for a few months, but until then, here are some less expensive things to consider:
Kaimans are probably my favorite. I mean, I have about 7 different pairs of goggles and they all work fine, keep out the water and all that, so I don’t care THAT much which pair I’m wearing on any given day as long as they don’t leak or hurt my eye sockets. But, the Kaimans are that little bit more comfortable on longer swims and provide the extra peripheral vision that you need in open water swimming. So, when I’m being fussy those are the ones I reach for.
I also have a pair of Seal XPs, which are very comfortable and have an even wider range of vision. They’re a little bulky and large on the face, but also very good for longer swims in open water.
Being able to swim straight in open water is probably the best and quickest way to ensure you get faster swim times in your open water races. Surely, being comfortable and being able to see a little more clearly will help you achieve that, right?
Silicone Swim Cap
This one comes in a wide range of colors.
I like these swim caps more than the ordinary, latex ones, because I find them easier to get on and off, and they keep my head a little warmer in the cold, British waters I’ve been swimming in (we usually wear two caps, anyway).
I see very hard-core guys wearing neoprene swim caps, and they look even warmer and much harder to have knocked off your head in the mass-start-feeding-frenzy at the beginning of a race.
Basically, if you wear something that is more comfortable, easier to use, and encourages you to train more, then it’s GOT to be making you a better athlete.
But, remember, train as you mean to race. Most races will require you (men and women) to wear a swim cap, so get lots of practice wearing a swim cap when you train. Don’t leave it until race day to try putting on a swim cap quickly and comfortably for the first time. Do that with all your equipment, train with it well in advance of any races you place to use it in, and don’t change your equipment at the last minute or try something new in a race.
Now, get out there and do some drills, work on your technique, swim more often and get some good coaching. Swimming is perhaps the toughest of the triathlon disciplines to see dramatic improvements, not least because you never really get to see yourself doing it. When running, sometimes we can see our shadows or our reflections. The same with biking, so it is a little easier to check our form and technique in those disciplines. But, unless you have access to an Endless Pool or someone to video you underwater, swimming is about feeling the difference, and that can be much harder to achieve.
Posted by: Robert