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Not sure what to gift the one you love (or to gift yourself) this holiday season? Don’t worry, we can help. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite swim-related items for those who might need a little aquatic motivational or physiological boost in the pool. Our wish list below includes nine items chosen by our editorial team and seven pieces of gear from four of our favorite swim experts: former pro triathlete and swimming Olympic Trials qualifying athlete Sara McLarty, former pro and collegiate swimmer Ben Collins, wetsuit tester/reviewer extraordinaire Shaun Guest, and nutrition guru Matthew Kadey.
Scroll down for the swim stuff on our lists this holiday season, broken down into three price categories: under $50, $50-150, and over $150.
Looking for more great gifts for triathletes? Check out the rest of our 2022 shopping lists:
- 15 Awesome Holiday Bike Gifts for Triathletes (2022)
- Triathlete’s 18 Killer Holiday Run Gift Ideas (2022)
- Triathlete’s 13 Must-Have Holiday Gifts for Indoor Training (2022)
Great Holiday Swim Gifts for Triathletes Under $50
Zone3 Ergo Swim Training Hand Paddles
Ok, hand paddles might not be the sexiest holiday gift, but a good pair of swim paddles are worth their weight in gold, and there’s a good chance your giftee has a ragged, old pair with shoelaces for straps. Ditch that old thing for a set of Zone3’s advanced ergonomic paddles with their unique full hand straps for those who hate the complexity of multiple bands for multiple fingers. As such, these are some of the easiest paddles to put on in a hurry.
Blueseventy Vision Plus Goggles
The newest set of goggles from one of the best wetsuit brands in the business boasts a unibody construction (in other words, you won’t detach that pesky nosepiece at the exact wrong moment right before the cannon fires) with fantastic strap tension adjustment. The “plus” on the Vision Plus is owed to the extra-wide field of vision. Available in two lens options—blue for low-light conditions and grey smoke for bright days—they’re inexpensive enough that you can get both for the perfect holiday gift that’ll work in all race-day or training conditions.
It may sound weird, but not all pull buoys are created equal. Forego your “grampa’s” foam pull buoy, or (shudder) the scummy ones on loan at the local YMCA, and level up your training with this novel tool. The Eney buoy allows you to change the level of floatation by adding or reducing water inside the hollow plastic swim tool: Add more water for a tougher swim workout, pour water out for extra floatation and assistance. Add Gatorade for a warm, post-swim treat (not recommended).Section divider
Great Holiday Swim Gifts for Triathletes From $50-150
Orca Open-Water Swim Safety Bag
If you open-water swim alone and you don’t have a safety bag or buoy to trail behind you, you’re literally playing with your life. Not to overstate the point, but solo swimmers need visibility in boat-trafficked waters, they need the ability to be seen by lifeguards and safety support on shore, and sometimes they might even need the floatation in an emergency. Orca’s swim bag is the most practical of the bunch, as it doubles as a backpack with shoulder straps to help carry your bag effortlessly down to your favorite swim spot. No excuses.
HUUB Transition Rucksack
HUUB’s new Transition Rucksack was rated as one of our top picks in this year’s transition bag roundup, thanks to its cavernous 40-liter capacity, a best-in-class waterproof wetsuit compartment, excellent organization, and good small-item storage. For the price, HUUB’s transition bag is also one of the more durable offerings we tested this year, and the top-loading design stacks well for item retrieval in transition.
RELATED: The Best Triathlon Bags of 2022
TYR x Whoop Smart Swimsuit
Starting at $80, shop.whoop.com
If you’re not familiar with Whoop, then you should check out the small strap’s ability to help quantifiably determine fatigue, rest, recovery, and workout readiness via measuring heart rate and heart-rate variability. Now Whoop fans can use the latest Whoop 4.0 technology while swimming, thanks to this smart swim garment—available in a men’s jammer style and a women’s diamondfit suit. The techy garment detects your body’s data at multiple points across the swimsuit to deliver info to a Whoop 4.0 pod (not included), then analyzed by Whoop’s powerful data crunching software and parsed out into actionable post-swim information.
RELATED: Face Off: Whoop 4.0 vs. Apollo NeuroSection divider
Great Holiday Swim Gifts for Triathletes Over $150
Synergy HYBRID EFX3
Ok, you might be wondering, “Why would a sleeveless wetsuit be in this gift guide?” Well, it’s one of those perfect gift items that not everyone has, not everyone thinks they might need (I.e., they wouldn’t buy it for themselves), BUT it’ll end up a crucial part of any triathlete’s essential gear rotation. Even though a sleeveless wetsuit might not be the first thing a triathlete buys, a good one (like this five-star rated one from Synergy) makes all the difference in the world when it comes to summertime open-water training and racing. Our reviewers loved the EFX3’s rare mix of flexibility (you’ll reach for it often) and durability (throw it in your car, and don’t worry about thrashing it). Hence the perfect swim gift.
Incus Nova Swim Technique Sensor
This year Incus rocked the swim world with the release of this handy little gadget that fits into your swimsuit and helps analyze multiple aspects of your swim stroke. Think: A swim technique coach/second set of eyes for when you’re swimming alone. By looking at data like stroke efficiency on left and right sides, body roll for both sides, and pitch angles in the water (how much you rotate or how flat you are as you swim), the Nova brings a shocking level of clarity to parts of swim technique that typically involved expensive underwater cameras or an on-deck coach. Use the included app to help you finetune and smooth out any hitches in your stroke to improve speed and reduce injury at a fraction of the price of an expensive swim analysis session.
RELATED: Extended Review: Incus Nova
Zygo Solo Headphones
Listening to music or audiobooks while swimming used to be a pretty tedious affair—usually involving downloading mp3s (who even has mp3s anymore??), loading them onto an ill-fitting pair of poor-sounding headphones, and praying everything works out. With this new technology from Zygo, you can stream audio from your phone (which of course, everyone has…) via a radio transmitter to waterproof headphones. But if thats not enough, Zygo has a huge library of coached workouts to help make your swim session more productive and effective. Best yet, if you have a coach, you can use the Solo headphones to broadcast his or her voice to your headphones, allowing you to receive previously impossible feedback in real time.
RELATED: Reviewed: Zygo Solo Swim HeadphonesSection divider
Our Experts’ Holiday Wish Lists
Trihard Pre & Post Swim Eye Gel
Goggles are wonderful for protecting our eyes from salt water and chlorine but they always leave behind raccoon-rings and dry skin for hours after the workout. The new and easy-to-apply Eye Gel from TRIHARD promises to relieve and soothe some of the common side effects of hard training by applying the product before and after wearing goggles. As someone who has permanent swim-goggle tan lines and dry skin from decades of swim training, I’m looking forward to finding this in my stocking from Santa!
Swim Tether Travel Pack
Now that most travel restrictions are lifted, we’re back to jet-setting around the world for work, racing, and vacationing for fun. But that doesn’t mean you can forget about completing your swim sessions on time. Pack the small-but-mighty Swim Tether system in your luggage and you can turn even the smallest hotel pool into a quality workout venue!
- Sara McLarty, Former pro triathlete, Olympic Trials competitor (swimming), and Florida-based swim coach
$60 (indoor) $70 (outdoor), themagic5.com
I feel like the last person to find out about Magic5 goggles. It’s nice to find goggles that work well and look good, but also fit well, thanks to Magic5’s super high-tech process that creates a custom-fitting pair of goggles in only a few weeks. No need to tighten them to the point of pain, and after a short time the bags under my eyes are noticeably smaller.
Every Day Active Mineral Sunscreen
Did you know not every brand of sunscreen that says “reef safe” is actually safe for marine life? I used to use Coppertone baby sunscreen with zinc, but it has other ingredients that aren’t so good for you or for reefs. This year I discovered Stream2sea while on a scuba diving trip in Florida and was amazed how well it rubs in, stays on in water, and feels good on my skin. Best of all, it has a simple ingredient list that doesn’t include any micronized minerals or chemicals that hurt our oceans.
- Ben Collins, Former pro triathlete and NCAA DI collegiate swimmer
Finis Smart Goggle Kit
At some point, the smart device revolution was bound to hit the swimming world. Runners and cyclists can look at real-time data, why can’t swimmers? Now we can see a pace clock and never miss count a lap. It is also customizable for swimmers to adjust the display and allows for synchronization with Apple Health and Strava. Vive the revolution!
Zen8 Dryland Swim Trainer
Winter is here, which means it gets cold and my local pool closes. Next stop bummerville! So much for staying in shape, especially with winter swells hitting the California coast. Enter the Zen8 Dryland Swim Trainer to the rescue. Basically, set yourself up for some band-resistance training. The cardio might dip, but the power in your stroke won’t be lost between seasons.
RELATED: Reviewed: Zen8 Swim Bench
- Shaun Guest, Former collegiate swimmer and veteran wetsuit tester/reviewer
GU Energy Gel Flask
Swimming trunks aren’t conducive to stashing gel packs and bars. This handy gel flask makes it easy to get a shot of energy when needed most. Just fill the flask with a favorite gel and keep it poolside so it’s easily accessible between laps. The pliable flask and high-flow nozzle allow for an efficient delivery system of carb energy, no sticky packets to deal with. Markings on the flask allow for more precise fueling. Go one better by gifting this with a multi-serving pouch of GU gel that can be used to fill the flask for multiple workouts. For creative triathletes, the flask can also be topped up with a homemade energy shot. Of course, a flask full of liquid sugar can also be helpful to have on hand when triathletes are tackling huge rides and runs.
- Matthew Kadey, writer, Registered Dietitian, connoisseur of jersey-pocket fuel