What To Pack For An Open Water Swim


Open water swimming requires undivided attention and full concentration with the aim of avoiding any possible problems during the time you spend in the ocean or a lake. It is already hard enough by itself, so you definitely don’t need anything else to keep your mind off the water.

And thinking about what to bring or do you have all the necessities with you there could be really annoying, so it is worth thinking about making a checklist of things you need with you before you hit the beach.

List Of The Essentials

Of course, it is possible to simply jump into the water and swim away, but some things will help you by keeping you warm and safe. If you’ve wondered, the gear you’re using when you’re at the pool is a bit different than the one you’ll need for the open water.


The first thing on your list should be a swimsuit. When you look for the best option, try to get a non-bulky one, because board shorts or other loose-fitting swimsuits tend to bunch up. When you swim a longer route, it can be really uncomfortable, so you should opt-out for a competition or tight-fitting swimsuit. If the water is warm enough, a traditional competitive swimsuit will do the work. If you’re a beginner, you could ask more experienced swimmers what to get. Some of them will recommend swim skins, as they have better coverage and are generally warmer. Also, it is good to take into consideration that a swimsuit with more coverage means less rubbing against the wetsuit, making it more comfortable in the long run. Especially combined with the next item on the list.


If the water temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll be OK with just the regular swimsuit. But once the water drops below 70, and especially if it falls to 60 or 50 degrees, you’ll need the wetsuit. Of course, some swimmers prefer having their wetsuit on even when the water temperature is above 80 degrees, so as those who try to avoid them on 60 degrees, but some middle value when it comes to a temperature where most swimmers choose to have their wetsuit on is 70 degrees.

A wetsuit will keep you warm and prevent hypothermia, but on the other hand, swimming means your whole body is working, so the temperature rises, and it could lead to overheating. The best way to make sure you’ll need the wetsuit is to have a thermometer with you and measure the water temperature or ask some locals for information about it. If it is too hot, you’ll be better without it. If you’re still not sure, test the water yourself. Enter with the wetsuit on and try to swim a shorter course.

If you’re not comfortable in it, take it off. This will also help you as you’ll learn the course, and also be mentally more prepared for your competition. And if you wonder if those who will wear their wetsuits on will have the advantage because of the buoyancy, don’t worry. They’ll compete in a different category. Another good idea is to think about renting a wetsuit. They are quite expensive, so if you don’t plan to swim in the open waters regularly, it is a better idea to find the store that rents them.

Anti-Chafe Stick

Wearing a wetsuit can be really uncomfortable if you’re on for a long swim. Constant rubbing against your skin can cause itching and create rashes. That’s why you’ll need an anti-chafe stick. Similar to a deodorant stick, this substance that feels like wax will prevent skin irritation. Even if you don’t wear a wetsuit, during your swimming session there is a lot of “skin-on-skin” rubbing, so even if the water temperature is so high you don’t need the wetsuit, it is recommended to apply chafing stick on. Use it just like deodorant – rub it where you think there is a possibility of chafing. Pay special attention to your neck and underarms. The neck is being constantly rubbed by your wetsuit, while your triceps rub against your chest side during freestyle. Also, apply it anywhere else where you think there might be repetitive rubbing, to prevent any possible skin problems.

Open Water Goggles

Goggles made for open water swimming differ from those designed for swimming pools. They are made to last for a long time, so you should have a useful “companion” on your adventure. When you try them on, make sure they fit you well and you feel comfortable, so they don’t start to hurt in the middle of your swim. It is good to purchase one of those tinted or mirrored lenses. This way you’ll block the sun and keep your vision clear. Goggles will help you see better, and make it easier to follow what is going on around, but also beneath you.

Swim Cap

If you compete in an open water swim competition, swimming caps are most of the time supplied. With participants separated by age group and gender, the color of your cap serves as your group mark. If the water is cold, you could get another one to keep your head warm. Remember, silicone caps are thicker than latex ones, so they are warmer.

Flip Flops

Sometimes the start of your open water session could be at the location covered in rocks. Having flip flops on can ensure your feet are safe before you start to swim. But don’t overpay them, as you’ll leave them unattended for a while, so they can disappear.


Swimming in the open water means some of it will get into your mouth, whether you like it or not. Before your race starts, have a bite of chocolate. This way the water won’t taste as bad as the chocolate will stick to your palette, blocking the saltwater flavor from getting in.

Other Useful Stuff

Besides the essential ones, there are some other things you should take care of before you start your race, that will keep you fully prepared for the competition. Here is the list of these things and activities.

Proof Of Entry

If you applied for your swim before the day of the competition, bring proof of entry with you. If you’re a member of USMS or USA Swimming, having your ID card within hand reach is a good idea. But most of the swimming competitions don’t require pre-entry, so you’ll have to register on the spot. To avoid possible problems with registration, bring some extra cash.


The first thing you’ll need – and want – the moment you get out of the water will be your towel. It will help you dry and warm you up. And if your competition includes multiple water entries and swims, it is recommended to have a fresh and dry towel for every session.


Having snacks with you is a must as you’ll lose a lot of energy while you’re in the water. Don’t overeat, though, as you don’t want to have stomach issues. Also, drink lots of water a few hours before your race starts, then have some kind of sports drinks available when the race finishes. They have sugars in them so you’ll get them to help you quickly recover. Also, when you’re done, you’ll probably be hungry so having a sandwich, or a banana in your bag is a good idea.


Remember, even if it is hot outside, water could still be cold, and even the smallest breeze could make you feel cold and freeze when you get out of the water. Having dry and warm clothes will help you regain your body temperature and return it to a normal level. If you own a swim parka, think about bringing it with you.


Another useful item for you is one of those chairs you could easily set up. Remember, if the event you’re participating in has multiple events included, there could be some delay and you’ll have to wait a bit, so having a place to sit and relax will help you rest in a comfortable position while you wait for the signal to get ready.


There is always a possibility to run out of food, forget to bring, or simply need to get something like another flip flop or an extra towel. Or, for example, you’ve found some great memorabilia, so it is better to be prepared in advance than to be sorry.

Plan Ahead

The night before your competition, sit down and make a list. Write everything you need and check it, item by item. If you forget something that evening, you’ll have time in the morning to pack it.

Globo Surf Overview

To have proper fun and enjoy the open water swim, there are things you should bring with you and do before you enter the water and concentrate on your race. This article should serve as a quick guide, but feel free to add something you find important to it. Remember, every person is different, so you basically couldn’t make mistake with this.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!