What should be in your kitbag?
Here is what I recommend to be in your kitbag for beginning your training in 2023 (for those looking to manage weight via swimming, training for a triathlon or open water event, or anyone looking to improve technique)

1. Leg Buoy. This does NOT need to be a chunking-great leg buoy, just a simple Speedo/low foam leg buoy that costs roughly £8-£12 on Amazon or Wiggle.
2. Hand Paddles. I could write a whole section on hand paddles, what each one is designed to do and why you should burn and send back to hell the dinner plates that you stick your hands in to – suffice to say the only hand paddle you’ll ever need is the Finis Agility Paddle (£20 on Wiggle); low impact, technique paddle that reduces the occurrence of injury (but doesn’t and cannot eliminate it if your technique is wonky).
3. Decent Ear plugs. No one has time and energy for middle ear infections. I use single-use ear plugs, like the ones you find on aeroplanes. Why? Because you’re less likely to develop bacterial infections from single use, I also don’t cry when I lose them because they’re cheap and easy to replace.
4. A decent pair of goggles. I personally recommend Zone 3 Vapour (£35) as the silicone is soft and great quality, soft nose bridge, designed for womens width faces as well as mens and can be used in pool and open water.

5. A bottle of water and a snack. You will sweat when you train, even in the pool/open water, so you need to replenish salts and liquids lost as quickly as possible after exercise in order to prevent dehydration and promote healing. Eating a small snack after exercise will equalize blood sugars and prevent over eating when you get back home.

6. For those that are looiking to monitor swim speeds and build distances, use a Finis Tempo Trainer (£40). Try not to be a slave to your swim watch – they’re great for monitoring your distance and speeds, but they’re also notorious for demotivating if you don’t obtain a PB or a Strava medal every time you swim. They can also be distracting during a swim, casting your eyes down and seeing how far you’ve left to you, or pushing you to swim faster than you can maintain.

Remember, if you want to get stronger, faster and/or fitter, you’ll need to incorporate pool technique sessions into your training!