I've been swimming for over 30 years. Here's the best swim gear and accessories for faster and more comfortable laps
Lisa Jhung, businessinsider.com
June 3, 2021
In the world of modern high-intensity training and boutique fitness classes, swimming is a refreshingly simple workout. All it requires is a basic swimsuit, access to a pool (which most towns have at a low community-center rate), and the basic stroke skills many of us learned as children.
For this low cost, you get serious gain: Swimming is a full-body workout that taxes your upper and lower body, plus delivers cardiovascular training without feeling overheated and sweaty. Even just leisurely swimming can burn roughly 220 calories in 30 minutes, while more vigorous strokes like butterfly can torch upwards of 400 calories in that same time.
I’ve spent most of my life reaping the benefits of this super accessible workout: Growing up in the North County of San Diego, I swam in the ocean and in backyard pools, often from dawn to dusk. In college, I joined the triathlon club and started counting laps by meters and yards. I’ve since swum with Master’s programs in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and in my current home of Boulder, Colorado. But I mostly swim on my own, heading to local pools (primarily outdoors) to swim laps for fitness and enjoyment.
Now, as a gear editor, I truly appreciate swimming’s simplicity — in addition to a swimsuit, goggles and a swim cap are all you need for comfortable laps. Beyond these essentials, items like buoys and fins add excitement to the activity, while something like a warm coverall makes the pre- and post-pool experience more comfortable.
The amount of swim gear at even the most casual of swimmer’s disposal is extensive — and not all of it is designed to help set or break a PR. For this roundup, I researched and tested a variety of both new and tried-and-true gear from a variety of swim brands, including cutting-edge suits, goggles, and swim caps.
Beyond the basics, I also tested training equipment and extras that make fitness lap swimming as comfortable, and enjoyable, as possible. While some of the additional gear isn’t critical to swimming laps, it did enhance my lap-swimming experience, some in ways that quite surprised me.
Comfortable Headphones for Music – FINIS Duo
I may be a gear geek but I do love the simplicity of swimming laps without music, and instead rely on the sound of water and my breath to create workout Zen. That said, this underwater MP3 player can be a fun way to change things up, and I know swimmers who say they can’t endure laps without it.
Though the Duo is simple to set up, it isn’t
If it is Bluetooth you’re after, the FINIS Amnis Stream, which I didn’t test, pairs with a smartwatch via Bluetooth.
Fins to Improve Your Form – FINIS Z2 Gold Zoomers
Like other training tools, fins help improve form by targeting specific muscles and parts of your swim stroke. These Z2 Gold Zoomers are a good length for all levels of recreational to competitive swimmers — any shorter and it’d take a lot more effort to kick across the pool and any longer would feel like scuba fins.
The Zoomer length gives me plenty of power to kick across the pool either with or without my kickboard. Wearing them for faster sets or while attempting butterfly stroke is a fun way to use them, and they also do a good job working your hamstrings and glutes.
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