But I have added two very useful things to my swim equipment inventory in the past few months.
The first is XTERRA Lava Pants. They are an upper-calf length wetsuit pant that I wanted for use in the pool to simulate wetsuit body position without the overheating of a full wetsuit. I debated the purchase for a while but am so glad I went through with it. It provides a subtle backend lift that positions me for a better catch and rotation and gives me practice kicking when my natural tendency in a wetsuit is toward a very lazy (or nonexistent) kick. In the Lava Pants, I swim faster, am more streamlined, and honestly sometimes it provides just the mental boost I need. There have been a few times this year where I was really NOT excited to swim for one reason or another and so I would reach for the Lava Pants. They give me a different feel, a fun feel, and turned a low-mo swim into a motivating one.
I have one friend who has really struggled with the swim and he found that using the Lava Pants and then moving down to Lava Shorts helped him to gain confidence and establish good technique.
In the case of a barely wetsuit-legal swim I would give strong consideration to racing in Lava Pants for the body position and speed assist rather than risk overheating in a full wetsuit.
The second thing I have added to the swim equipment is the Kiefer SaferSwimmer swim buoy (I got it through the Team MPI Swim Store and saved some $$) It's an inflatable buoy and dry-bag that is tethered via a sliding ring to a waist belt and floats un-noticeably behind you for far greater visibility. I'd been debating this for about half a year since my friend Ashley Heher suggested she was interested in it, and I finally got one, knowing I would want it to try to swim in the ocean on our family trip to Cancun.
The buoy arrived just before our vacation. It brought me tremendous peace of mind and my husband noted that it was easy to see from quite a ways out. I swam 12 miles during our 6 days away and I don't think that would have happened without the SaferSwimmer buoy. I had probably 500 yards of ocean swimming experience prior to this - I just got too creeped out! But with the SaferSwimmer buoy and favorable ocean conditions, I felt more confident than I'd ever been.
I attached my Garmin 920XT to it for greater accuracy, and appreciated having my little inflatable friend to hang onto for my occasional watch-checking stops. Periodically a small tour boat would pull up to and away from the beach and I was super glad to know I was more visible.
I also used it for our snorkeling explorations from the beach, including this one with my oldest son Spencer where our increased visibility meant we also got corralled for swimming too far beyond acceptable tourist limits. Oops.
I plan to use the Kiefer SaferSwimmer buoy on every open water training swim from here on out. Why not? I don't notice it, it doesn't slow me down, and I am grateful for the improved visibility. (Watch out for copycat versions that are smaller and less rugged...I saw some on Amazon.)
Now I am just waiting on the third product to come available - the secret jet propulsion system! Until then, I will concentrate on consistency, good coaching, and hard work!
That's all for now from my shopping channel :-)
Spend little, train smart!