Jess Open Water Swim

Tri Gear – Open Water Swim Essentials

Davey's open water swim triathlon training gear |

We are firm believers that open water swims are super helpful and very important when training for a triathlon. Swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake, ocean or river and so getting in a few practice swims before your race can really help reduce race day anxiety, make you more confident in the water and help you work overcome any mental barriers or obstacles you may face.

We also think that open water swims are much more fun and enjoyable then pool workouts and so we try to make it to the lake whenever possible.

Open water swims are a great time to test out different gear, to get comfortable swimming in a wetsuit, to figure out if you need/want to wear earplugs during the race and to decide what breathing pattern works best for you.

For tips on how to gain confidence in the water, how to breathe easier when swimming, how to mentally prepare for an open water swim and more, check out our swim section.

Here is a look at what we take when we go to the lake:

Jess's open water swim triathlon training gear |

1. Wetsuit – I use the same wetsuit that I bought when I started surfing and it works just fine. Wetsuits are a pricy item, but you can borrow or rent one for pretty cheap. The key is to try before you buy, select a style that works best for YOU and do a few practice swims wearing your wetsuit.

2. Long Hair Swim Cap – A swim cap for girls with long hair?! GENIUS! I mean, why haven’t I heard of this before? Getting a swim cap on over my head of hair is hard enough, so I really appreciate the extra room for my ponytail. It’s super comfy and doesn’t give me a headache.

3. Aqua Sphere Kayenne Small Fit Goggles – I tried these on when I visited All3Sports in Atlanta and instantly fell in love. Not only are they are the perfect size for my face, but they are so sleek and stylish! They don’t leak and the tinted lens provides the perfect protection from the glare of the sun on the water.

4. Towel – I love yellow and I love this towel.

5. Lara Bar – Made from ingredients you can actually pronounce, Lara Bars are awesome. I’m usually ravenously hungry after an open water swim, and one of these babies satisfies my hunger. My favorite flavors are banana bread, coconut cream pie and peanut butter chocolate chip.

6. Sports Bra – Call me crazy, but I’m not too crazy about tri suits. I just feel so confined and trapped when I wear them. So, I usually just do triathlons in my sports bra and tri shorts. After the swim, I put on a shirt, but when I’m in the water, sports bra and shorts works for me. And I love Target sports bras. Tons of colors, tons of support. 🙂

7. Zoot Tri Shorts – Yet again another great find from All3Sports! I ordered multiple pairs of tri shorts online since we don’t have any triathlon stores here in Nashville and I ended up returning them because I didn’t like how they fit. So when we were at All3Sports, I was so happy to actually be able to try on different pairs of tri shorts before buying them. Zoot tri shorts are my favorite because they don’t that have a horribly tight and uncomfortable elastic at the bottom that not only feels like a tourniquet, but is quite unflattering in my opinion. They also have a built in pocket that’s the perfect size for a Lara bar!

8. Zico Coconut Water – We’ve mentioned it before, but coconut water is SO good for you! It is packed with electrolytes and has a natural sweetness that is so refreshing. Zico is my favorite brand and they have so many mouthwatering flavors! My favorites are Tropical and Mango.

9. COOLA Sunscreen – Fact: I get sunburned sitting on the sunny side of the car. Fact: I can’t stand greasy, thick sunscreens. Fact: COOLA sunscreen is AWESOME! Not only does it smell incredible with scents like pina colada and citrus mimosa, it is light and doesn’t feel greasy. The spray bottle makes it super easy to apply and best of all, it’s water resistant. Add a little luxury to your open water swims with COOLA sunscreen. Your skin will thank you.

10. Hair Ties – Normal hair ties slide out of my hair during my battle to get my swim cap on. Watch this. So, I love these hair ties because they have little tiny grips that keep my ponytail in place.

11. Body Glide for Her – When you do an open water swim wearing a wetsuit, you will probably notice a few places that tend to chafe. (Yet another reason to practice swimming in your wetsuit before your triathlon!) Enter body glide. This stuff is great for reducing friction and it makes swimming in your wetsuit a bit more comfortable.

12. Gym Bag – I got this bag at Old Navy and while I can’t seem to find it online, I’m pretty sure they sell it in the stores in their Active section. It’s the perfect size to hold all of my gear and I love the little side pockets.

13. Rainbow Sandals – Davey bought me a pair of Rainbows when I first moved to California and I have worn them ever since. Although they’re not really a necessary piece of gear for an open water swim,  these sandals are SO comfortable and they last foreverrrrr.

14. Chapstick – Swimming requires a lot of mouth breathing which equals dry lips… at least for me. For some lip relief, I love Burt’s Bees… I find that it lasts longer than most chapsticks and it tastes delicious. Blueberry and dark chocolate… yes please.

15. Ear Plugs – These are a total personal preference, but I cannot stand water in my ears. These wax earplugs conform to your own ears and create a great seal to keep water OUT!


Davey's open water swim triathlon training gear |

1. Towel – This towel is perfect for “stretching” and relaxing on the beach after my open water swim.

2. Aqua Sphere Kayenne Goggles – We’re an Aqua Sphere family and just like Jess, I love these goggles. Great fit, no leaks, good lens tint, sleek design… what more could you want from a pair of goggles?

3. Cytomax – Add a scoop of this to your water for a burst of energy before a workout or to rehydrate after a workout. And remember, even though it doesn’t feel like you’re sweating when you’re swimming, you still need to hydrate!

4. Wetsuit – I prefer swimming without a wetsuit, but just in case the water temp is freezing on race day, I make sure I practice wearing one during my triathlon training. I prefer a spring suit because it is easier to get on and off and that means faster transitions.

5. Swim Cap – I don’t have as much hair as Jess so a normal swim cap works just fine for me.

6. Pearl Izumi Tri Shorts – These shorts are great for triathlons because they have just enough padding for the bike portion, but not too much padding to make it feel like you’re running with a wet diaper. They stay in place and don’t ride up and they’re tight enough so I can be sure they won’t slip off when I’m frantically taking off my wetsuit.

7. Ear Plugs – I prefer using earplugs for the same reasons as Jess… and these earplugs rock.

8. Gym Bag – Sturdy, durable and a cool color, this bag holds all my gear and can handle being tossed around.

9. Rainbow Sandals – Simply the BEST sandals ever made.

10. Waterbottle – This bottle keeps my water cold for twice as long and it’s great for long bike rides too. I mean, come on, nothing tastes better than ice cold water after a long swim.

11. Clif Bar – I work up quite an appetite when doing an open water swim during my triathlon training, so I toss a few Clif Bars in my bag for after my workout. Mint chocolate chip is my all time favorite flavor.

12. Body Glide – This stuff works wonders when swimming in a wetsuit. Easy on and easy off and no chaffing.

13. Sunscreen – Even though I don’t burn as easily as Jess does, she still makes me put on sunscreen. Ever have a goggle and swim cap sunburn? It sucks.

What do you pack in your gym bag for open water swims?

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and we did not receive any of these products in exchange for a review. These are simply a few of the products that we use and love and we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.


About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →