Sea Swimming: A Guide to Getting Started
Taking up a new sport can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to new gear and clothing. Former staff member and sea-swimmer Mary-Liz shares her top tips for sea swimming essentials.
I don’t know about you, but for me, a lot of sports turn me off because of the initial investment in gear. Researching the gear can feel so overwhelming, with so many brands and products out there today. With sea swimming however, all you really need to get started is a pair of togs (and on some beaches you don’t even need those!). Everything else you can add on incrementally, and for me, these add-ons are more so for my comfort than for any competitive reason.
I’ve collected some of my top tips for sea swimming that I picked up over the course of the pandemic, with some wisdom from others thrown in there too. Hopefully you find these tips and tricks useful for your sea swimming journey!
Get yourself a swimsuit that you feel comfortable in and that suits your style of swimming. I take my swimming at a leisurely pace but I still need something that holds everything in place, so I wear high-waisted bikini bottoms that tie at the front, and a sturdy bikini top to match. The high waist and tied front of the bottoms means that the garment stays in place even when the waves are rough, and it looks quite cute if I do say so myself. Here’s a link to the item in Coast’s online store. You can get some really high-quality bargains at Coast if you keep your eyes peeled for the sales. Local company Blackrock Beachwear also offer a range of comfortable and colourful swimwear for the more adventurous. If I’m going to be wearing my wetsuit I wear a one-piece swimsuit, which makes it easier to zip myself in and out without having to worry about the bikini strings and knots digging into my skin.
Gloves & Booties:
If the old adage is true, that cold hands make for a cold heart, then mine must be made of ice! My fingers often end up looking like sticks of chalk coming out of the water, and my feet can take what feels like forever to warm up again. I noticed some of the more seasoned swimmers at my local beach wearing gloves and boots and I think they might be on to something. There’re tonnes of swimming boots and gloves available out there and they’re more affordable than you might think. You can pick them up for very reasonable prices at Decathlon. If you have a bit more to spend I’d recommend taking a look at the range of swim boots, socks and gloves at The Great Outdoors. Pro Swimwear also have a selection of these items that range in price.
If you’re a regular swimmer like me, then a microfibre towel is an absolute must-have. They dry really quickly and won’t make your hair frizzy, which is a perpetual struggle if you have curly hair like mine. They roll up very small in your bag too. My family recently gifted me a wonderful microfibre towel from the Cork-based company Saltrobe. Their towels come in three different designs; the Wild Atlantic Way, Dublin Swim Spots, and the Cork Edition. Better yet, their towels are made from certified recycled consumer plastics!
This is the item I researched the most when hunting for gear. Long story short, there’re winter wetsuits, summer wetsuits, and wetsuits for competitions. For most casual swimmers, a summer wetsuit, which is lighter and allows you to move more freely, is perfectly suitable for swimming all year round. I’m a petite 5ft 2” and found it difficult to find wetsuits in my size, but Decathlon came to the rescue. Their wetsuit fits like a glove and was very affordable.
The dry robe is the pièce de résistance of your swimming gear, and unless you have a very fancy wetsuit, it’s probably going to be your biggest financial investment. In the Summer, I find I dry off very quickly without a dry robe and like to take my time getting changed, but the Spring and Winter is a different story altogether! We’ve had a particularly dismal start to 2022 weather-wise, so I was delighted when my family gifted me a snuggly dry robe from the Cork-based company Saltrobe. Nug are also a wonderful Galway-based company that do dry-robes for men, women, and children. We’ll have a more in-depth blog specifically about dry robes very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
The list could go on and on, but really, I think the above covers the essentials, hopefully you think so too. Good luck and happy dipping!