Now, I know we’re mainly known as a “bike and triathlon” retailer, but one area of our store that has been slowly expanding over the last couple years is our swim section. Being a former swimmer myself, I am really appreciating the new product we’re getting and have been able to try out a lot of it over the last couple years. I’m also excited about some of the new stuff coming out in terms of swim wear, swimming aids, and swimming gadgets. I thought with the Minnesota Masters meets coming up, and everyone’s 2010 training programs kicking off, now would be a good time to take you a couple of the cool swim products we carry at the store.
Now, I really like to split this up into 2 categories: Swimwear for training and swimwear for racing.
- Training Swimwear
For training in a pool (which for most people is about 90% of their
triathlon training), most guys will wear “jammers”. Jammers basically look like bike shorts without the pad. The brave few still sport a traditional “speedo brief”, but you see less and less every year. For women, a 1 piece swimsuit (like the one pictured) is generally what you’ll see the lap swimmers wearing. Speedo makes both men’s and women’s ‘Endurance’ fabric suits that are made of polyester instead of lycra and last nearly 20x longer. Do yourself a favor and invest in these suits. They’ll last forever and you’ll save your swim-mates from seeing more of you than they bargained for.
- Racing Swimwear
For those of you who don’t follow the swimming world, it has been
going through quite the controversy the past year. You can read more about it here but in a nutshell high-tech suits have helped swimmers world-wide set nearly every swimming world record over the past year. So any debate that high-tech fabric and compression help swimming performance has been silenced. In fact, I participated in a study with fellow swimmer and coach Duane Dobko and we found significant improvement with the speedo fastskin trisuit. (Read more about our study here ). We actually have these suits half-off, click here for men’s, click here for women’s. Also over half off is the men’s 2 piece varieties of the same suit. Top here and bottom here.
This is one area were a lot of people can get overwhelmed, but my philosophy is to keep it simple with regards to the training aids. Most of the time I’ll go out with a kickboard, pull buoy, but I wanted to talk about a few of the other training aids we carry and why you might want to use them.
- We sell “foot aids” in 2 basic varieties. Zoomers and Training fins.
Using training fins (we like the TYR Splitfin) is like weight training for your kick. Its helps build a stronger kick by overloading the kicking muscles. Zoomers (our favorite is the Finis Z2) are basically smaller fins. They help build leg strength and a quick kick, but allow you to use them for longer swims since you don’t have to work quite as hard to move them through the water as bigger fins. I think both have their place in swim workouts, but for most triathletes zoomers will probably be more useful.
- Lap counters. We carry the Finis Lap Track, which is great for those who swim at pools with no visible time clock, these are great. Their also great for those that have a hard time keeping track of how many laps they’ve done.
- Tempo trainer. The Finis Tempo Trainer is a device that you attach to your goggle strap that transmits an audible beep at a predetermined rate. Just like you would in cycling or running, this allows you to track your swim cadence. Playing with different cadence rates allows swimmers to experiment with what is most efficient.
- SwimP3 player. This device from Finis is actually quite amazing. It works through what they call ‘bone conduction technology’. The two
devices are strapped through your goggles and placed on the bones of your skull. The crazy thing is, it actually works. This thing holds 1gb of music, so you can swim all day and never hear the same song twice.
Goggles are so important I decided to give them their own category. They can really make or break your swimming experience. There is absolutely nothing worse than an ill-fitting or leaky goggle. We encourage people to take the goggles out of the package and try them on to ensure that you’re going to be comfortable with them. We have dozens of varieties here at the store, but I wanted to give you the lowdown on a few of our most popular.
- The Aqua Sphere Vista. This newer model from Aqua Sphere is quickly becoming our most popular ‘mask’ goggle. It has a slightly
smaller profile than the ‘Seal Mask’ but still gives great suction and peripheral vision. These are great for people who don’t like the feel of the smaller profile goggles.
- TYR Nest Pro and the Blue Seventy Hydra Vision. I’m putting these 2 in the same category because their very similar. These have separate gaskets for each eye, but they’re larger than most traditional goggles making them more comfortable for many people. Both provide an excellent seal and have become quite popular.
- Speedo Vanquisher 2.0. This is my favorite training/racing goggle, and also happens to be one of the most popular ones we sell. For me it fits very well and I never have to worry about these babies popping off on a dive start or flip turn.
- Sable Water Optics RS101. These are really the Cadillac of goggles.
They offer the best underwater vision of any goggle (trust me, I’ve tested it), they don’t fog at all, and have a great suction. They are also $45, so you better get a good goggle.