How can equipment help your open water swimming?

Wanting to mix up your swim sessions? Swimming equipment is a great way to mix up your training sessions and focus on your technique.

Our ambassador Caitlin has put together her top tips for how to incorperate equipment into your training sessions to get the most out of each session. 


Do open-water swimmers need swim equipment? 

Using swim equipment is a great way to improve your open-water swimming. Equipment can help you focus on your technique and help with your speed and power.

Equipment such as paddles, pull buoys and kickboards are very useful to focus on specific parts of your stroke but is not the most essential part of your open water swimming.

I know lots of swimmers who don’t use any equipment and those who use some every swim. I use my equipment during my pool training and not while swimming in the ocean.

Photochromic mirror gogglesPhotochromic mirror goggles

How do you use equipment to train for open-water swimming? 

I use the pool to hone my technical skills and pace and use the ocean more for temperature adaptation, weather adaptation and the occasional long swim.  But if you don’t swim in the pool using your equipment in the ocean is just as effective.


Alana Park before a triathlonAlana Park before a triathlon

Paddles are a great tool to use to increase your strength and power. When I’m using paddles in the pool I usually pair them with a pull buoy so that I can fully focus on the catch and pull of my stroke. I don’t tend to use a kickboard and fins as much in training (but probably should)  because I use a 2 beat kick when I am doing long-distance swimming to keep my body position balanced.

When I train in the pool with my squad there is usually a kick set involved using a kickboard which means I can strengthen my kick and grow a more powerful kick which I may need when racing either open water or in the pool. As I've said using equipment is a great way to improve technique, power and strength. 


How do you use the equipment whilst open water swimming? 

I personally don’t use any equipment when I am in the open water swimming, but I have seen many people train with equipment in the ocean, whether that be paddles, kickboards or pull buoys.

Using equipment can be a great way to make it easier if you are struggling with an injury. For example, if you chuck on a pair of fins it may take some of the pressure off your shoulder.

Or if you have a leg or ankle injury you could use a pull buoy to lift your hips so you have a better body position without having to kick.

There are lots of different ways and reasons for using the equipment.

Alana Park before completing a triathlon Alana Park before completing a triathlon

Top equipment picks for open water swimming

My top three picks for equipment would be Fins, Paddles and Snorkel simply because they make me swim faster.

Fins are great for drills such as single arm because it allows you to focus on the movement and the rotation without having to kick too hard.

Paddles allow me to work on the catch section of my freestyle stroke as well as build power and strength in my arms.

Another very useful piece of equipment I love using is a snorkel because it allows me to work on all the sections of my stroke such as head placement, and rotation and also benefits some of the drill work I do.

Equipment is an amazing way to improve your swimming whether that be in the ocean or in the pool and it can be a great way to change up your swim sessions and make them more exciting than just swimming along.


You can find Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinoreilly04

Happy swimming!