All The Swimming Gears You Need For Triathlon

Training for a triathlon requires a lot of specific gear. Fortunately, there is no need to buy all of them right away. I listed below all the swimming gear you will need at specific points in your triathlon journey.

Some of the recommendations below are affiliate links. It simply means that if you buy one of those gears through the specific link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.



Obvious gear that you need to buy immediately if you don’t have one already. There are thousands of models out there, and I don’t really have a favorite. Easiest is to go to a sports shop and try a couple of different ones.

Best time to buy: right away

Recommendation: No favorite. Make sure to buy a sport version and not one which will act as a parachute in the pool. It should fit tightly 😉


As for the swim shorts, you have plenty of options here.

Best time to buy: right away

Recommendation: Try several ones and take the one which fits the form of your face. If you normally wear prescription glasses, have a look at another article, I wrote: “Prescription Swimming Goggles: Do They Actually Work?”


A pull buoy or leg float is shaped like the number 8 and made out of foam. Usually, it is placed between the thighs and helps your legs to float so that you can focus on your arm strokes. It is a great tool to put your whole body in a good position in the water.

Best time to buy: right away

Recommendation: Finis Foam Pull Buoy (Amazon affiliate link). The advantage of the bright yellow color is that I have never lost it in a pool 🙂


Make sure your fins are designed for swimming, not diving (usually swim fins are a bit shorter). The lanes you do with fins, especially help you to build leg muscle strength. You can work on your kicks.

Best time to buy: right away

Recommendation: Finis Zoomers Training Fins (Amazon affiliate link). Unlike the previous model I had, this one didn’t give me any pain in my ankles so far. 


Hand paddles consist of a plastic plate facing your palms and are fixed with elastics around your fingers. Fix them tightly to your hands. Thanks to the enlarged surface of your hands, you will feel greater resistance in the water and train your arm muscles.

Best time to buy: once you start to have a good technique

Recommendation: Speedo Finger Paddle (Amazon affiliate link)


Some swimming pools make it compulsory, mainly for hygiene reasons. There is no need to spend too much money on these. A standard version for $5-$10 is perfectly fine.

Best time to buy: right away if you don’t have one already

Recommendation: keep the swim caps you get at races



A safety buoy is a must-have gear for open water swimming. The bright color will make you visible, and you will have a point to rest if you feel tired or get a cramp. As a side note, never swim alone in open water!

Best time to buy: before your first open water swim

Recommendation: I personally bought the Zone 3 safety buoy (Amazon affiliate link). My favorite part is the dry compartment where I can store my keys. 


The wetsuit is by far the most expensive swimming gear you will have. You can rent one for your first open water training and races, but I would highly recommend buying your own at some point. The prices range from $100 to $800. 

Best time to buy: after a couple of triathlons

Recommendation: after renting it a couple of times, I bought the mid-range wetsuit “Attack” from Sailfish (Wiggle affiliate link)


It can be useful to have specific swim goggles for open water. The colored lenses can help increase your visibility. I personally still use my pool goggles.

Best time to buy: if you often swim in open water

Recommendation: none – I don’t have one yet



A triathlon suit is the only clothing you will wear from the start of a triathlon until the finish line. It is designed for swim, bike, and run, and therefore its main advantage is that it will save time in transitions. I wrote a full article about it. Check it out here.

Best time to buy: a couple of weeks before your first race

Recommendation: hard to give one recommendation as it really depends on your preferences. Check first the article I mentioned above.


Specific triathlon watches are not a must-have for beginner triathletes. It is quite hard to justify the high price tag for what you will actually do with it. Their main advantages are open water swimming and triathlon mode. My wife, Anna, wrote a full article about them: The Right Time To Buy A Triathlon Watch And What To Look For

Best time to buy: right away for data geeks (like me) or after a couple of triathlons

Recommendation: The best one is for me the Garmin Forerunner 735XT (Amazon affiliate link) or its newer version (Forerunner 745, Amazon affiliate link) if you find a really good deal.


A transition bag is a backpack designed specifically for the needs of triathletes. It is large enough to fit all triathlon gears in one place and well organized so that triathletes don’t lose any time looking for specific gear. If you want to learn more, check out this article: “Are Transitions Bags Really So Useful.”

Best time to buy: after a couple of triathlons

Recommendation: I am really happy with the Tyr Apex bag (Amazon affiliate link) I bought.

I hope this list gives you a better idea of the gears in triathlon and at what point you should invest in them.

If you are looking for information about biking or running gears, check out those two articles: