Growing up, my parents had to literally drag me out of the pool and off the diving board. I absolutely loved being in the water. I joined the swim team when I was 5 years old and by the time I was about 10, I was swimming year round. I even went to Stanford swim camp one summer where I became determined to swim in college.
That all changed when I was in 8th grade and was the tallest person in my class, male or female. Noting my height, my Mom suggested I try volleyball and after attending a camp at a local Junior College, I ditched swimming and embraced the bump, set, and spike. [Thanks for the suggestion Mom!] The whole volleyball thing worked out and I ended up playing in College.
Even though I was focused on volleyball in high school and college, I still occasionally got in the pool for short swim workouts and every time I did, I was reminded of why I loved swimming so much growing up. For me, swimming is a sort of meditation. Through a limited version of sensory deprivation (no sounds, no talking, no smelling), swimming allows you to focus on your breath and focus on your mind.
Much to my delight, Tyler and I started visiting the pool regularly after we signed up for a few triathlons earlier this year. We spent about 3-4 weeks swimming on our own building up our endurance before taking the plunge and joining the Masters program at Alaga Norte Aquatic Center in Carlsbad. Joining Masters was one of the best things I’ve done for my fitness and training. More on Masters later but if you are interesting in getting your lap swim on, here are my 5 favorite swim accessories:
|ONE| The Necessity: Goggles
You may be tough. I know you’re tough! But nobody is tougher than chlorine! If you are going to swim laps, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, you need goggles. I suggest going to a sporting goods store such as Dick’s or Sport’s Authority and taking time to pursue their massive selection of goggles. Speedo and TYR offer various models but here are my favorites. If you want to venture outside of those two brands, ROKA, Finis, and Aqua Sphere are all great brands that have extensive variety on their sites. These are my favorites: Anything by Roka & Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored Swim Goggle
|TWO| For The Ladies (or males with luscious locks): The Swim Cap
It always makes me cringe when I see a lady getting her swim on sans swim cap. I just think of the nightmare tangle situation she will be experiencing post-swim. On top of the rats nest and the damage due to chlorine, a lady’s hair causes quite the drag while swimming. Throw it in a cap and you’ll be exponentially happier. There are so many swim cap options out there as far as color and design but they all boil down to a two options: Silicon vs. Latex. Growing up, I used to hate Silicon because of the tendency to slip but these days, I appreciate both.
- Pros: Non-Slip, OG/understated (I’m here to swim, not to make a fashion statement) or, on the other hand, if you have a super bright and crazy suit, a simple latex cap can be the perfect companion.
- Cons: Durability- tendency to rip if you don’t take care of them (apply baby powder between each use), can rip hair
- Pros: Friendly on hair, lots of options for design
- Cons: Tendency to slip during a workout
It’s all about personal preference. If you’re one of those who like to express themselves via accessories, you’re going to have a lot more stylish option with the silicon route. Thanks to my friends at Jolyn Clothing, I often rock this sharky cap.
|THREE| The Classics: Kickboard & Pull Buoy
Available at most pools free of charge or for a rental fee, there’s not need to purchase these items initially. Once you decide that the life of a mer-person is for you, there are various kick board and pull buoy options that help with certain specialized conditions
|FOUR| Get Faster: Paddles
Paddles are a great way to isolate your arms during a swim workout and build swimming specific pulling muscles. There are a lot of paddle options out there but these Finis Freestyle Hand Paddles are the best I’ve found because they not only help you build strength, they help with swimming technique by improving reach and distance per stroke.
|FIVE| Hydrate: Wattle Bottle
Another thing that I don’t get about my fellow lap swimmers – so often people go sans water. Maybe this is because they are hardcore and they are training for a triathlon and during a long open water swim, you can’t sip on high quality h20 at your leisure. Props to those folks. However, I need water when I workout (I actually need more than water – I usually add coconut water or Scratch to my water bottle so I get a little sugar and electrolytes. It makes a huge difference in my ability to stay energized through a hour+ workout. As far as the actual water bottle that I prefer for deckside, I’m a fan of Alex bottles.
Because you can’t have just 5 swimming necessityies, here are some bonus items that I love:
|Bonus One| Mesh toiletry bag: this is one of the best amazon purchases I’ve ever made! You need this for your swim bag if you shower the pool. If you use a zip lock bag, your stuff stays wet and wet equals nasty. This bag also has a suction cup so it sticks to the shower. Perfection.
|Bonus Two| MP3 Player: such a cool concept! Many people view lap swimming as the equivilant to watching paint dry. If you don’t take the meditative approach, I totally get where people are coming from. Staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool can get pretty boring. But what if you had a playlist full of all the hottest jams? That is a possibility with Finis’ Nepture V2 Underwater MP3 player.
|Bonus Three| Mermaid Fin: not really a lap swimming accessory – more of an awesome swim toy that makes you feel like a legit mermaid. Brought this all the way to Mexico for my Aunt’s wedding then Anguilla for Tyler’s family vacation and had at least 30 different people try it on and mer their way around the pool. So much fun and actually quite efficient! Aquarius Monofin Blue/Aqua
|Bonus Four| Coconut Oil: protect the locks! Before I get in the water, I slather coconut oil on the ends of my hair to protect from the devastation of chlorine. Also great to keep in your swim bag to remove eye makeup before swimming and to moisturize post-swim. Be sure to buy coconut oil in a plastic container or a tube – stay away from glass! Here’s a good one: Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
|Bonus Five| Recovery: Designer Protein, Organic Pro 30 Protein Powder. I am aways ravenous after a swim and Organic Pro 30 is the perfect recovery beverage. I stick a shaker bottle full of almond milk and a few ice cubes in my swim bag and make a shake right after I shower.