Most triathletes will agree that every year you’re faced with the same decision. Most triathlon races start in May, so you’re faced with two choices. Either reintroduce yourself to open water swimming only by winging it on race-day and hoping for the best, or; get yourself back into training before the waters reach double-digit temperatures and build up your skillset.
When it comes to making this decision, you don’t need to worry. Make your early season swims less ‘brain-freeze’ and more ‘yes please’ with Zone3 Neoprene accessories.
We’ve all got a high concentration of blood vessels in our hands, feet and head. If these are left uncovered during a swim in cold water, you’ll find yourself loosing heat at an incredibly high speed. Anything you can wear in cold water, therefore, can be a massive help. The Zone3 team know that finding products that are effective can be a bit of an issue, so collectively worked hard to design a range of Neoprene accessories that help you stay as warm and comfortable as possible, even on those colder swims.
Your head is probably the most important part of your body. In milder conditions, you will probably find a simple silicone swim hat will suffice. But, to keep your ears and head warm in colder conditions, a neoprene swim cap is the next step.
Like any clothing made from Neoprene, a good fit is absolutely essential. If the cap has a strap – make sure it’s neither too tight nor too loose. The last thing you need during a swim is for your cap to be too restrictive when it comes to breathing. An adjustable strap, or even no strap at all, is ideal.
If you’re going to experience any discomfort due to temperature – it's your fingers that’ll feel it the most.
Neoprene gloves are the best bet during a swim and as with most items of apparel, a good fit should be top priority.
Zone3 Neoprene gloves offer an optimal fit, with liquid seal finish seems to massively prevent excess water from seeping into the gloves, aided also by longer cuffs. What’s useful about these gloves is the extra-long cuff and Velcro seal, which definitely solves the issue of water-filled gloves acting as an extra weight at the end of your arms.
Depending on how cold the water is that you plan to swim in, there are a number of different thicknesses of Neoprene and linings to help you stay comfortable. Anything under 8°C, for example, will find you want a little extra thickness, such as 3mm+.
Most will agree that after swimming in May-temperate waters, it’s easy to want to be as covered in Neoprene as possible. Zone3 Neoprene swimming socks are ideal as not only do they stop your feet from getting cold, they also protect you from cuts and scrapes from rocks and whatever else you find upon the waterbed. A good fit will ensure the socks don’t fill up with water, as water-filled socks negate the extra buoyancy your legs will have gained from your wetsuit.
It can’t be stressed enough how a good fit is paramount to the performance of these Neoprene accessories. Make sure you always double check size guides when buying, and if possible – try a few sizes before making a decision.
Zone3 also provide a number of other Neoprene accessories which don’t quite fall under the ‘cold water swimming’ category but nonetheless solve some pretty common problems.
Neoprene Swimming Calf Sleeves
With the sport of Swimrun noticeably growing, athletes are looking for solutions to novel problems this type of competition presents. To allow unrestricted running, many competitors choose to wear short legged wetsuits, paired with running shoes. This works great, until their shoes inevitably fill up with water and sink, with the extra added weight not being supported by any neoprene buoyancy below the knee. To combat this issue, Zone3 have made an 8mm Neoprene Calf Guard (link).
The extra thickness this provides, coupled with a top spec Yamamoto SCS Nano Coating, makes them a valuable addition to your Swimrun kit. A less expected benefit is that they also protect your lower legs from any brambles or rocks you might encounter that often line the rugged trails of Swimrun events.
Overshoes can often feel heavy and cumbersome whilst cycling through the winter. After a struggle to get them on, which often feels like driving a square peg into a round hole, you are faced with the inconvenience that they will not only keep moisture out but also trap moisture inside. This can lead to wet feet- which end up colder than if you hadn’t bothered with overshoes at all. The solution to this problem is a set of toe covers. Not only do they keep the cold and wet off the end of your foot which points forward, but they also counter the unfortunate problem of sweaty shoes by allowing your whole foot to breathe. Perfect for race days and training in variable conditions.
Something no wetsuit user should be without. If you haven’t experienced wetsuit chafe, then you are extremely lucky. Sadly most of us have finished a race or open water swim and felt the burning sensation of wetsuit rash on the back of our necks. One great way to combat this is to use anti-chafing glide; this forms a protective layer against your skin and wetsuit meaning there won’t be any friction and you’ll come away rash free. Not just made for your neck, slather some on both your ankles and wrists to help remove your wetsuit faster in T1.
Written by Will Cowen
Edited by Catharyne Walton-Matthews