This is the post where I give you a list of all my personal favourite accessories for Open Water Swimming. In a previous post, I made a list of the essentials of Open Water Swimming equipment. The following list will complete the previous one and is not exhaustive.
In this post, I am giving a few of my practical tips to make your open water swimming experience even better.
1. Open water swimming watch
This accessory is one of my favourites. A waterproof watch is very useful as it will help you keep track of the time. This could be important if you are trying to slowly acclimatize to cold water. We talked about this in my previous post “Is open water swimming dangerous?”.
With a GPS watchttps://sarahkochnatation.fr/is-open-water-swimming-dangerous/h, you can track the distance you are swimming. This is very useful especially when you are swimming in an unknown place. Be careful though, not all GPS watches are waterproof. And not all waterproof GPS watches have the option “open water”, which could result in a very bad tracking of your swimming.
Tracking where you swim can also be useful to see if you are orienting yourself well, or in other words if you are swimming straight.
Most open water swimming watches are multisport. They have other features like tracking your steps, connecting to your phone, and some models give you the water temperature. Most open water swimming watches have specific features to swimming like the swolf score (a swimming metric designed to help measure swimming efficiency), the stroke rate or the pace.
Bottleshower is a trademark. Before I discovered this accessory, I used to bring with me two bottles of warm water to rinse myself. Since I’m using this, I only need one litre of water to rinse myself and my gear. It is a very affordable mini shower head that fits on all narrow neck water bottles. Thanks to the tube inserted in the bottle, air can easily travel in allowing a constant pump shower flow. This increases drastically the shower flow time, you thus need less water. Now you have your own warm shower wherever you go swimming.
3. Wetsuit changing mat
Mine came with a triathlon backpack that I bought years ago. I did not really know what it was then. Now I use it after each swim. Basically, it is a mat you get changed on, keeping your feet away from the sand. Once your wetsuit is on the mat, you pull the strings and the mat closes around the wetsuit and your legs to form a bag. You step out and voilà! Your wetsuit was never in contact with the sand and ready to be transported.
My personal tip is to rinse my feet before I step on the mat. The best is if there is anything you can hang the wetsuit and let it drip while you get changed. Like on the back of a chair, or on a fence. Anything that won’t damage your wetsuit. I then get changed on the mat under my poncho. Being able to get changed without risking having sand or gravel in your undies is a definite plus! Once I’m changed I put the wetsuit back on the mat to wrap it and transport.
Another tip to avoid sand on your wetsuit is to take it off in the water.
4. Anti-chafing cream
Saltwater and material have that bad habit of creating friction leading to skin burn. The most common rash open water swimmers suffer from, is from the wetsuit. To prevent friction, the use of an anti-chafing cream is indispensable. Around the neck and sometimes under arms or other places. It depends on each person and their wetsuit. Once you know where you tend to get burns, you use the cream before putting on the suit.
When I am not wearing my wetsuit, I sometimes get a rash from my swimsuit elastics or even from my rash guard (the height!).
My friends used to make fun of me because I always carry a pot of Vaseline in my swim bag. They are happy when I share it with them when in need though!
Here are a few different types of anti-chafing products that you can use.
5. Waterproof phone pouch
A waterproof translucent pouch to carry your phone with you. I like taking photos before and after swims, now I can even do it during my swims. If the water is clear enough, you can even take underwater photos or videos. I carry it in my swim buoy. It also works to carry it over the shoulder. It is of course very handy in case you need to call help. I guarantee your phone stays dry and there is enough room to put your car keys as well.
I have used both these options and can tell you they are good products.
6. Ear drops
When you love the water and spend a lot of time in it, it is essential to take very good care of your ears. The goal being to prevent a potential infection. Probably the best way to protect your ears is by using swimming earplugs.
But maybe like me, you do not like wearing earplugs. After each swim, I dry my ears properly. But sometimes water gets stuck in the ear canal where you can not reach. The best way to take care of it is by using ear drops. What you need is drops that focus on helping the ear dry out quicker. Those drops usually contain alcohol. When it evaporates, it removes the excess water in the ear canal.
My favourite ear drops used to be the “Aquaear” which I believe can only be found in Australia. I now make my own solution, following an easy recipe which you can find here.
It is very easy to get used to having swim partners who tell you everything about water temperature. We like to try and guess the water temperature before checking, it is almost a game to see who is right. You then realize how a small variation can impact your sensations. Sun, wind, your mood… In any case, it is always good to be able to check.
Like I mentioned earlier, some swim watches give you the water temperature. Mine doesn’t, so I purchased a swimming pool thermometer that I attached to my swimming buoy. I can check at any time. Sometimes it is surprising to see the water temperature difference from one spot to another. Or sometimes even at the same spot before and after the swim.
This is not an exhaustive list of accessories. When I first started open water swimming, I wish I had found this kind of list to avoid some mistakes. I am always excited when I find something new. And of course, I share my new finds with my swimming partners, of whom I have also learned a lot.
Please let me know in the comments what your favourite accessories are. Did I forget anything you find essential?