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Swim

2015 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: T1/Swim Beginner Essentials

This list covers the basics you’ll need to get through the swim and first transition in a triathlon.

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Wearing a wetsuit in an open-water swim is for more than just warmth—it also makes you more buoyant and thus faster. While sleeveless suits offer more range of motion in the shoulders, a full-sleeve entry-level suit such as the Orca Equip offers even more buoyancy, is comfortable in the water and is relatively affordable for a wetsuit.
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Wearing a triathlon kit makes your races much more comfortable (and your transitions faster!). Tri kits are tight-fitting and worn under your wetsuit, are made of quick-drying material and feature a built-in pad (chamois) for the bike that doesn’t get in your way on the run. The best style is a personal preference—one-piece kits stay in place better while two-piece kits, such as the breathable, comfy and well-priced Pearl Izumi Select Tri Support Singlet and Short, make bathroom stops easier.

Prevent skin irritation around your neck and other potential hotspots with a water- and sweat-resistant lubricant, such as Body Glide’s The Original anti-chafing balm ($10, Bodyglide.com), which allows for mess-free application and won’t damage your wetsuit, like petroleum-based lubricants can.
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Don’t forget to protect your skin from sun exposure during training and racing. A sunscreen such as Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen SPF 34 ($15, Beyondcoastal.com) is ideal for triathlons—it’s water-resistant (up to 80 minutes), provides broad-spectrum protection and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

Fitting all of your tri gear in one bag makes race-morning transition setup much smoother. A transition bag such as the backpack-style Huub Rucksack will hold all of your essentials in its multiple compartments, wears comfortably and condenses down when empty so it won’t get in your way.

A well-sealing goggle with a clear field of vision is a must for the swim. The TYR Special Ops 2.0 Transition goggles are a great beginner option, as they’re versatile for pool and open-water swims and provide a reliable seal for multiple face shapes. Always be sure to test the seal on swims before race day, and bring a back-up pair to races.