Let’s start with the obvious:
- Swimming costume – don’t use your best beach costume for swimming, the chlorine will completely ruin it over time, the chlorine fades and the colour and damages the elastic. I have a very boring, sensible black one from Speedo but it’s chlorine resistant so will last much longer.
- Towel – any old towel, don’t worry about bringing a separate one for your hair or that swim bag is going to start getting very full!
- Goggles – i’m yet to find a pair that doesn’t leak or steam up a bit, but i’m using Speedo Biofuse Goggles at the moment and i’m happy with those. Once i’ve been swimming a bit longer, I’m going to invest in some more expensive ones.
- Swimming hat – I started wearing by wearing my swimming hat religiously but now I just can’t be bothered with it. The downside is my hair dye is fading much quicker, but in terms of hair condition, I haven’t noticed much difference. An alternative is to use a hair protector. There is the Philip Kingsley SwimCap Cream, which protects against chlorine damage amongst other things. Or if you’re on a budget, there is a boots own brand Sun, Swim and Gym protection masque.
- Nose clip – optional, I can’t swim wearing one of these at all but some people find them very useful, especially if you have any nose issues aggravated by chlorine.
- Padlock/money – check which one you need for the lockers at your gym or leisure centre. Nothing worse then packing up all your stuff to find out you have no change!
- Flip Flops – for walking to the pool and shower afterwards
- Plastic bag – to put your wet swim kit in afterwards.
- Membership card/money/keys – and any other handbag essentials, just don’t forget to put them back afterwards!
It’s tempting to take lots of products, I very much miss my shower at home when I’m standing in my flip flops under the stupid stop/start shower and stepping over gross clumps of hair.
But as you’ll want to be as quick as possible, you’ll want the minimum number of products that still get the job done. You also won’t want to carry them all to the pool or ferry them around the changing room.
- Shampoo/Shower gel – combination products are ideal to save space. I love ‘It’s raining men’ shampoo and shower gel from Lush. It smells amazing, nice to have a treat in manky old leisure centre shower.I also find I don’t need conditioner after using this. However, in between swimming I would recommend using a very moisturising shampoo and conditioner to avoid that straw hair feeling. I use l‘oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Intense Repair Shampoo (recommended by my hairdresser) at home and TiGi Oatmeal & Honey conditioner, which I love! and it’s kept my hair feeling soft and in good condition.
- Face wash – I have very sensitive skin so I so still need a proper face wash, a shower gel won’t cut it. I use the tiny packs of Dermologica Ultra Calming Cleanser.
- Moisturiser – if you think about what chlorine can do to you swimming costume, think about the effect it’s having on your skin! You will need to moisturise, partly to stop horrible dry skin and party to help get rid of that chlorine smell. I find a body oil is best as it absorbs much quicker when you’re in a rush and probably still a bit damp/wet (both gross words). Likewise I need a sensitive face moisturiser as it’s usually a bit red post swim. I use Avene Anitrougeurs Jour Redness moisturising cream. Although the changing rooms are so boiling hot I think it just immediately sweats off my face. It sounds like a faff but once you have your routine sorted you’ll get in the zone and just power through until you can escape to the fresh air outside.
- Hair products – I swear by the Tangle Teezer , works like a dream on long or short hair and just makes thing so much quicker when you’re trying to get changed in a hurry. I also take my volumiser with me, so that’s me done and ready to go.
- Salt water nose spray – having suffered from sinusitis for years i’m a huge fan of Sterimar salt water nose spray. I use it straight after swimming to flush out the chlorine water i’ve undoubtably inhaled on the way round . And since using it i’ve not been bunged up or stuffy after swimming at all.
- Water/snacks – need to re-hydrate obviously and i’m always starving straight after a swim. Taking a healthy snack stops me being seduced by the vending machine on the way out.
- Bag – finally a massive bag to fit all this in, pockets are also useful to easily find your money/keys.
The next thing on my list is underwater headphones, I’m desperate to try some out as that’s the one thing missing from swimming, being able to listen to music. Would certainly help break up obsessively counting lengths and then questioning if that’s definitely right or have you maybe missed one?