Open Water

Open Water Swim Essentials

Are you unsure what to bring to an open water race? Below is a list of essentials for open water swimming. Depending on the type of race, length, and venue some or all these items may be required. 
Baby Wipes



If your race requires the use of grease (Vaseline or Lanolin) baby wipes help remove the residue from your swimsuit and body. They can also help remove race day numbers. 


A maximum of two caps may be used. If the water is colder participants may opt to use two for warmth. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and if you would like to wear one or two caps.

Duct Tape



This is great to have at all open water races. It can help hold timing chips to your wrists, tape your goggles to your cap or even help keep your cap in place.  

Feed Pole

In races 5km and longer the use of feed poles is permitted to provide nutrition to athletes.

Goggles: Tinted and Clear

It is good to have tinted and clear goggles in your bag to be prepared for the weather and water conditions.




Prevents chaffing - good for saltwater races.


Latex Gloves



Use gloves to apply grease to body. It is extremely difficult to wash off Vaseline or Lanolin if you touch the inside of your goggle lens.

Practice Suit

It is always good to have a spare suit. Depending on the competition this may be the item you race in or you may decide to use an open water competition suit or wet suit.

Nutrition Items

For any race it is important to bring items to fuel before, after and during the race.  For races 5km and longer feeding stations should be provided, which allows support staff to deliver nutrition items to athletes.   

Open Water Race Suit
Open Water Suit

Unlike the pool, in open water races, men's and women's swimsuits can go to the  ankle but shall not extend past the shoulder and shall not cover the neck. There are also different rules depending on who is hosting the event. Check the meet information or with the meet director.

Wet suit (if allowed/required)

Open Water Wet SuitIf the event is not a FINA, USA Swimming or USMS race, then the use of wetsuits is at the discretion of the meet host. USA Swimming (701.1.2), USMS and FINA have rules regarding water temperature and when the use of wetsuits is optional or compulsory. Wetsuits can be expensive to purchase so if of you do not plan to do open water swims frequently then try to find a place to rent one.




Always a good thing to have on hand.  




Prevents chaffing - good for freshwater races.

Swim Bag

A place to put all your open water essentials!


To keep you warm and dry.



Warm, dry clothes