As a person who learned to swim as an adult I found it hard to find gear that worked for me and wasn’t aimed at high school or college athletes. Here’s the stuff I like and how I found it.
A lot of swimsuits are made for sitting by a pool or occasionally going into the water but not for doing laps. For a regular lap suit I love Lands’ End Tugless Tanks.
I usually wear this with a rash guard. Over the years rash guards have gotten more popular, especially for sun protection, which is great, except they too tend to be sized for general lounging and are way too big. I need a rash guard that is skin tight so water doesn’t get stuck in it. I have had good luck with men’s Volcom rashguards.
More recently I have been into the swimming unitard! It’s extremely comfortable, I never have to worry about anything falling out, and I look like an old tymey strongman. I like to think of it as my only chance to look like a Vaudevillian.
I don’t know how often one is supposed to wash their swimsuit but I’m pretty sure it’s more than I do. I put cold water on my suit after I swim, put it in that machine that mostly drys it out, and hang it (and my cap, socks, rash guard, etc) when I get home. I wash it whenever I am doing laundry and remember to do so. I am skeptical of how much people think chlorine erodes fabric because mine is doing fine for years with this process.
I have pretty short hair but it’s wavy and dyed a lot of the time so traditional caps would pull and damage it. There are silicone caps but you have to baby them after each swim which I am not going to do. I love lycra caps. They are actual fabric and feel great and tend to be less ugly IMO. They’re small so I always carry an extra in my swim bag.
Goggles are the most individual but I will say I probably tried 10 pairs of goggles before I found my one true goggle pairing. Some sports stores have goggles to try on in person, especially in summer so that was helpful. It made me realize Swedish goggles are not for me. I prefer a bungee cord (for hair pulling and fit reasons) and a big ole rubber gasket. I mostly swim inside in pools so I prefer a blue tint. This has led me to the Dolfin Bungee goggles which I love. A decent runner up, without a bungee is the Aqua Sphere Kaiman. I usually wear contacts when I swim, but I also love prescription goggles. I don’t have the same prescription in each eye so they’re not perfect but they can get me between the pool and the locker room. I have these Sportis because I couldn’t find a good bungee version with rubber gaskets. I find the thick band less painful too.
Most important to me is a wet bag for storing my suit post swim. They make these for diapers and swimmers–it’s cloth on the outside and has a waterproof lining on the inside. I buy mine from sellers on Etsy because they have cooler, non-baby patterns. My favorites have been from this store and this store. I’ve had this one for seven years and still looks great.
On larger gym bags, I still haven’t found the ideal. A lot of swim bags are duffels and I hate duffels. They have an advantage though if you’re mostly driving with your bag and you use fins. I use this one and it does have really great separate sections for wet stuff, fins, shoes.
I prefer though this Tyr Mummy Bag. It comes in great colors and has mesh so things dry a bit. I am always amazed by what it will hold. The downside though is that it doesn’t have a lot of sections so everything’s just jumbled all together–wet and dry, dirty and clean, pool shoes and towels. Ew.
It’s also not great if you’re swimming and doing another sport where you need another change of clothes. Or if you’re swimming and then going to do errands, which is frequently my situation.
I think everyone knows Speedo is a famous swim brand but I’ve never had any luck with anything Speedo. If a Dolfin version of something is available, I will always get it, because their stuff has always been great. Tyr & Sporti have also been good. Finis seems to make fancy things and they’re twice as expensive so I haven’t gotten into them. Swimoutlet is the best!
FINS, SHOES, SOCKS
All fins seem pretty similar to me, tho I am on the edge of sizes. I have these Tyr burner ones. They’re fine. It looks like silicone fins are the next evolution but I haven’t tried them yet.
With my fins I also use these socks. I get raw bits on my feet if I don’t. I have also tried latex socks and they’re terrible.
I wear shoes out to the pool and in the shower, and Crocs are where it’s at here. I see a lot of people wearing an Adidas slide, but I would fall out of those shoes, so it’s loud Crocs all the way.
I haven’t found a great chlorine wash, but I do love Nivea’s in shower moisturizing products. I have the most sensitive skin, and it works for me. I also use a stick face wash because it’s easier than carrying another bottle.
A microfiber hair cap is my favorite thing. I also suggest buying the largest microfiber towel you can. Bringing a normal towel to the gym seems totally unfeasible to me. I like to use a separate towel for drying off from the pool than drying off from a shower, so i use the terrible gym towels for pool dryoff and this one for post shower. It’s a huge bath sheet so I can then wrap it around my whole bod and not be constantly naked in the locker room!
I hate locks very much and cannot remember lock combos especially if I take a week or more off from swimming. So I bought a word based lock. I still hate twiddling tumblers when cold, naked, and dripping wet but it’s a little better. Is it less secure? Maybe, I dunno, but no one’s ever broken it.