Swimming in style

Swimming in style
Sometimes, wearing the right swimming gear can make all the difference between a bad and good swim. Nowadays, swimsuits are available in varied lengths, right from sizes XS to XXL.

If you want to get in the pool, there is always a swimsuit for you. But keep the following pointers in mind:

For women


Always wear a swimsuit where the straps fit snugly and are not loose, to avoid the embarrassment of a wardrobe malfunction during your swim. This is why competitive swimmers always wear a racerback (straps are joined together at the back). Before racerback swimsuits were available easily in India, my mom would stitch together the straps of my swimsuits to ensure a snug fit while training and racing in the pool!

If you decide to wear a full length costume, make sure it’s not loose, as excess fabric tends to get heavy in the water and drag you down.  Almost all swimsuits other than the competitive ones come with inner padding so there is no need to wear any undergarments. Undergarments would actually peek out from under the swimsuit, which can be embarrassing. Pregnant women can also find special maternity swimsuits, which have more fabric around the mid section and allows them to swim even in their third trimester.

Choose a good brand of swimsuit, which is chlorine-resistant, as these will last you a good 2-3 years, unlike the lycra swimsuits, which become baggy and transparent after repeated swims due to exposure to chlorine.

For men

Swimsuits for men come in various fits, right from the briefs to tighter knee-length jammers to beach/swimming shorts.  If you are opting for beach/swimming shorts, make sure they have a snug fit at the waist. A drawstring needs to be fastened securely. Also, make sure the fabric is not white or made out of cotton or denim as these are not appropriate for swimming.

Get goggles

Goggles are a must for every swimmer as they not only allow you to see clearly in the water but also protect your eyes in case there are excess chemicals in the water. Kids must wear junior goggles as the goggles need to fit snugly to avoid water entering the eyes. As a coach, I have seen many kids start enjoying the water more once they get a pair of well-fitted goggles, as they can see clearly.

Adults, especially those who are scared of water and trying to learn will relax more in the water once they have goggles on as opposed to trying to swim with their eyes closed. Adults with eyesight problems can either swim with their contact lenses with tight goggles that need to stay on during their swim, or they can opt for powered goggles available from leading swim brands which start at -1 and go upto -6.

A great way to ensure if a goggle is suited to your face structure is to try on the goggles at the shop by pressing the goggles on your eyes without putting on the strap. If the goggles stay in place then they will be water tight and fit your face well.

And the cap

A swim cap is needed only for women or men with long hair. Please remember that a cap will not keep your hair dry, it is only meant to keep your hair out of your face. Always choose a silicone cap since these do not pull you hair while you remove them, unlike the older latex version. Some people who swim at a leisurely pace might like a cloth/nylon cap which is slightly looser than the silicone.Women with extra long hair can also look out for long hair caps, which are slightly bigger.

Training equipment

Serious fitness swimmers and competitive swimmers also use training gear like kickboards (held by the hands and used to focus on the kick), pull buoys (held between the legs and used to improve the  arm pull), flippers (used to strengthen the legs and give the swimmer better speed) and paddles (worn over the palms to help get better feel of the water during the pull).

So, go on and jump into the pool this year to beat the summer heat. With the right swim gear you will enjoy every minute of you swim and become fitter in the process.

(The author is an olympian & Speedo swimwear consultant)

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