You're all sorted for basic open water swim kit - you've got a wetsuit or you're hiring one, you've got goggles and a brightly coloured swim hat. You're good to go...right? But what if you're new to open water swimming and you have an early race booked, so you know that first swim is going to be a chilly one? What if you have a low body fat percentage so those early season swims are always a bit bracing? Here are my 4 favourite bits of kit that will help you get in the lake that little bit earlier and stay that little but warmer. With all of these bits of kit, sizing is everything so get the tape measure out and make sure you buy the right size.
If you click the amazon link it'll take you to my favourite of each of the toys. I also get a tiny fee from Amazon, so that's nice.
These will help to keep your feet warm and taking care of your extremities will make a big difference to your overall body temperature. Hands and feet get the coldest quicker than anything else and can make for an uncomfortable swim so take care of them. If you're a new open water swimmer it can also be nice to have a bit of protection on your feet too, if you're worried about mud or weeds.
When your hands get so cold that they start to go numb it can be difficult to focus on your swim technique. Zone 3 have some nice gloves, but I prefer these Huub gloves as they are shorter on the wrist so they fit around my Garmin better. The grips on these also make it easier to get in and out go the lake too - no slipping off the ladder. Make sure these fit well though or it'll be like swimming with paddles.
This extra layer of neoprene on your head can make the world of difference when it comes to keeping you warm. It can also help to stop cold water getting into your ears, which is remarkably off putting when you're trying to swim! I like this one as it has a Velcro chin strap so that makes it a bit more flexible and a little less restrictive.
This will go under a brightly coloured swim hat to make sure that you are still very visible in the water. Fit is everything with these so do measure up! And if you have a lot of hair, go a size up.
THERMAL RASH VEST
This makes for a great base layer underneath the wetsuit. I also use it in the summer when I want to practice for a race that I think is going to be non-wetsuited but the lake isn't quite warm enough for that yet. I just stick this over my trisuit. This one is unisex, which will suit most people but if you're a woman with a larger chest and a smaller waist you may benefit from a female-specific rest vest.