Over this week we are going to help everyone swim better in open water - from novices to experts and everyone between. We hope that you will all take something from it.

In the first instalment we are going to talk about what equipment you will need.


If you are swimming in the open water you will need a wetsuit. The difference between a triathlon/swimming wetsuit and a surfing wetsuit is the smooth material and the flexibility - especially around the shoulders. The buoyancy will also be different between the two - with most buoyancy around the hips to help put you in a better position in the water. 
It is important to try a few different brands as they will offer slightly different fits in places such as the neck.
When trying the suit on it should feel fairly tight but not too restrictive especially round the chest. Putting it on properly should take 5 minutes. It is common to see the arms and legs of the suit too close to the wrists and ankles. If this happens your suit will be "pre-stretched" and you will lose flexibility in the shoulders and will pull on your lower back. When you put your suit on then you should try to get the end of the suit about 2 inches from the wrist and 4 inches from your ankle bone. You should get someone to push your shoulders and pull the suit so that it is easier to do the zip up and you will feel less restricted in the chest. 


Choosing the right pair (or pairs) of goggles is more important than you may think. Obviously they shouldn't leak. They should allow a good range of vision and you should have a pair with clear lenses in case the sky is overcast and you should have a pair of tinted goggles in case of bright skies. I put the straps on under my hat in case they get knocked they hat will keep them on my head.


You can buy specific lubrication to stop chafing and help get the wetsuit off easier. I have also used baby oil and also cocoa butter in the past. Places to apply the lubrication are the neck, calves and forearms - as well as a small amount on the wetsuit on the arms and lower legs. This will stop the wetsuit sticking to itself when trying to get it off.


If the water is particularly cold especially in the early season it is worth getting some neoprene boots, gloves and hat. They will keep the chill away for a bit longer. It must be noted that in most triathlon races you are unable to race using gloves or boots unless the race director says otherwise.