31/01/2012 by Carl Reynolds
Back out, clogged up and feeling indifferent to many things. But want to put something up for people to comment on. Swim kit can be categorised by season and location. A different accumulation of kit is needed for your local municipal pool than it is for a swim in your local river – although in my case a swim in my local river would either kill me or get me arrested. The lists below are what I take. Having read a variety of other swimming blogs, I know that there is a cornucopia of gadgets for the swimming obsessed – paddles, pull bouys, drag shorts etc etc, but I don’t use them. And as someone observed down at Tooting, capitalism can even ensnare the most natural of sports!
My lists then…
Local indoor pool kit – trunks, goggles, earplugs, towel, flip flops, shampoo. Easy really. I’m sure some could reduce this to just trunks and towel, but I like to see the objects in the water, avoid swimmers ear, keep my feet away from the floor and wash off as much chlorine stink as possible before entering the world. Which is why I rarely venture indoors.
Local outdoor pool kit – as above, but for slightly different reasons. Flip flops to keep my feet from the cool, cold and, at times, freezing concrete. And, in winter, merino layers, insulated jacket and wooly beany.
River or lake – as above, but also a Robie, water shoes, thermal blanket, food and hot drinks. A Robie is a monk’s habit like garment made of towelling. Great for spooking kids and gullible adults; as well as protecting the public from your bumps and curves…and for drying yourself with. You could make your own, but the cost of towelling material and the time spent sewing will probably prove to be a false economy. Having said that, my mother made a lovely bespoke one for Mrs Ape one Christmas. Water shoes, because I hate feeling the slime underfoot and given the way I swim crawl (minimal leg movement) not an impediment to progress. They’re also good for avoiding lacerations. A thermal blanket, because once in a while someone will stay in too long. By food I mostly mean cake – lots of cake. And finally your cap should be a brightly coloured one, so that you can be spotted by other water users (e.g. punts on the Cam, windsurfers on lakes, steamers on Ullswater).
Sea – as above, and if you arrive by car a minimum two litre bottle of warm water in the boot. To douse yourself in once you emerge. This is certainly cheaper than a solar shower, but these are good too. But as Lone Swimmer comments below – only in the summer. The effects on a body fresh out of very cold water could be catastrophic. And again a brightly coloured cap. But probably best to not have the same colour as creel bouys or you may get scooped up by a lobster fisherman.
Anywhere outdoors where it’s really cold (this varies, but for me currently – below 8 degrees C and I want to swim for two miles or more) – a (shock, horror) wetsuit. But don’t go getting yourself a fancy pants one, a base level triathlon suit for £100 will do the job nicely. After all, only you will know that your more expensive suit got you back to the beach ten seconds quicker.
*always good to have a ‘show off’ cap. This one is a 9 miler from the 2009 Irish Champion of Champions event. The best is probably a Channel Solo cap – which I do not have.