Swim suits – There are many different types of swim suits manufactured of many different materials having many different properties. Some swimmers prefer different types of suits for practice and for competition. Whether for practice or meets, the suit should fit snugly, perhaps more tightly than either the swimmer or the parent suspects. Depending upon its material, a suit may stretch out of shape, lose its elasticity, or fade after some wear. Some suits are more sensitive to pool chemicals and may demonstrate their chemical intolerance more quickly by becoming thin, baggy, and faded, resulting in discomfort for the swimmer as well as slower swimming times. When purchasing a suit, ask a knowledgeable sales person at your swim shop what you can expect of the suit as it starts to wear, and get the sales person’s opinion on the size and fit of the suit. As a general rule, practice suits made of polyester are much longer lasting than nylon-lycra combinations. A swimmer can expect months of wear from a polyester suit, whereas a nylon-lycra suit is showing wear within weeks of regular practice. For this reason, the polyester suit is a better value for training. It is important to follow the instructions on the suit as to its care after swimming in order to extend the life of the suit as long as possible. Material technology being what it is today, suit manufacturers are constantly providing new and improved suits, and there is a broad spectrum of materials and prices available.
Goggles – Goggles are important to swimmers who are in the water as long and as often as competitive swimmers. They protect the eyes from exposure to pool chemicals indoors and to ultraviolet light during outdoor competitions or practices. There are many different types of goggles available, as well as a wide price range from which to choose. Although swimmers may be inclined to choose a goggle type because of its “fashion appeal”, function is more important. The goggle must seal well and fit the face comfortably, and it should be a tint that is appropriate for the venue in which the swimmer is swimming. For example, mirrored goggles block a large amount of light and offer excellent ultraviolet protection, but they may not be appropriate in an indoor pool during the winter when we swim before dawn or after dark. A swim shop will carry dozens of models of goggles in a variety of styles and colors. It may take a bit of patience, but a goggle that is both appealing and functional can be found. If your swimmer needs an optical goggle, they are available in a variety of price ranges, depending upon the style and prescription needed. A few of our swimmers use optical goggles. If your swimmer requires them, speak to a coach for a referral to another parent who has already found a reliable source.
Fins – Although there are some fins on deck at the pool, your swimmer cannot be guaranteed there will be a pair available that will fit and will be in good condition. If your swimmer is swimming at a level where fins are used frequently during practice, they may be required equipment. They come in a variety of styles and sizes, and prices vary with manufacturer. As our swimmers outgrow their fins easily, it is not necessary to purchase a top of the line model, but it is important that they fit well in order to prevent rubbing and discomfort, or loss in the water during practice. For competitive swim practice, a “full footed” fin is necessary. Fins that have a strap around the heel are not reliable for the workouts that our swimmers execute in practice. For size and fit, rely on the advice of the swim shop sales person. As fins are designed to fit for several different shoe sizes, a new pair of fins may be a little large until your swimmer grows into them. Wearing a pair of socks under the fins for a while may solve the problem and is entirely acceptable, though somewhat inconvenient for the swimmer. If there is rubbing on the foot or toe which can result in a blister, consider covering the area with some petroleum jelly prior to practice to make the area slick and less prone to abrasion.
Drag suits – A drag suit is an oversized brief made of nylon or nylon mesh and is worn over a swim suit in practice. It is designed to cause additional drag on the swimmer during training, providing a feeling of freedom and speed when removed during a race. It is not a required piece of equipment, but some swimmers prefer to use one. A drag suit also offers additional security to the modesty of a swimmer when a practice suit is old and prone to instant disintegration without notice.
Paddles - As swimmers advance to a higher level of workout and have acquired enough strength and stroke technique, they may be advised by the coaches to purchase a set of paddles. Paddles come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and your swimmer will be advised what model is appropriate to his/her individual training level.
Swim gear bags – Gear bags are entirely a matter of personal preference. All the major swim suit manufacturers make bags of different sizes and styles. If you wish to purchase a swim bag from a swim shop, it is usually possible to have your swimmer’s name and the team name embroidered on the bag at an additional cost. The embroidery makes identification considerably easier, and considering the cost of the bag and its contents, is well worth the price of the extra service.
Mesh bags – Mesh bags are used to carry items such as fins, paddles, and water bottles on deck during swim practice. They are made of nylon mesh, dry quickly, and therefore discourage mildew on items contained in them. They are convenient, but not required equipment.
Team parkas – ACAC swim parkas are very convenient and are a great way to stay warm before, after, and during meets and going to and from practice. In addition they promote team pride and spirit. They consist of a nylon hooded outer garment lined with water resistant pile or some other insulating material. Our team parkas are black, have ACAC across the back, and usually have the swimmer’s name embroidered on the left front side. It is a wise idea to have your swimmer’s name embroidered on the front to identify the garment and protect it from loss. As these items can be rather costly, most families purchase them very large, allowing the swimmer to grow into the coat. We can get a better price if several families order simultaneously, so it is a good idea to check with other members to see whether they are thinking about purchasing a parka.