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Open water swimming kit

The age old question. What do I wear? Your swimming may up to speed but you need to have the right open water swimming kit. Well, don’t fret because we’ve got that covered.

Open water is different to the warm embrace of a pool. To swim in it you need a few extra bits and bobs. So, here is our newbies guide to open water swimming kit.

Top five pieces of open water swimming kit

  1. Silicone Hats
  2. Wetsuits
  3. Boots, gloves and socks (yes – swimming boots are a thing!)
  4. Goggles
  5. Lubricant or anti-chafe stick

Silicone hats

It’s vital that whenever you go swimming in open water you wear a brightly coloured silicone hat. Yes, you may look like a skittle but the hat will keep your head warm. More importantly it will make sure you’re easily visible in the water.


Wetsuits help to keep you warm, even in summer. The UK is not known for warm water temperatures. They also help make you buoyant, which is safer and helps you to swim faster.

Practise in open water a few times before a race or big event. The wetsuit changes the position of your body in the water, so practise will help you get used to it.

An ill-fitting suit can put you off as it makes you fight the water rather than swim. Wetsuits can be bought or hired online. Check out our how to guide on how to choose the perfect wetsuit for your swim.

Never worn owned a wetsuit before now? Don’t worry, we’ve put together a handy guide on how to put on, take off and take care of your wetsuit.

If you’re going to take part in an open water events, make sure your new wetsuit complies with FINA wetsuit rules. Make sure you check out Swim England Masters and Open Water Officer Sharon Lock’s post about FINA’s guidance on wearing wetsuits.

Boots, gloves and socks

OK, these are three pieces of open water swimming kit but they do the same thing. In cold water you need to keep your hands and feet warm to avoid illness or injury. Lots of people wear boots, socks and gloves.

Look for a balance between keeping warm and being able to swim properly. Shop staff will be able to advise you on what will best suit your needs.


Comfortable goggles area must-have piece of open water swimming kit. Goggles with a lot of rubber will increase your comfort.

If the day is bright you might want to consider tinted or mirrored lenses. This will help block the sun and let you see more clearly.

Lubricant or anti-chafe stick

A wetsuit can get uncomfortable during a long swim. It rubs against your skin and can create uncomfortable rashes. Lubricant or an anti-chafe stick can help.

The sticks look like a stick of deodorant. They hold a wax-like substance that helps protect your skin from irritation. You apply the same way as deodorant. Both are available at specialist swim shops.