What Kit Do I Need to do Sea Swimming?

Andrew Wallace
30.05.17 10:40 PM Comment(s)

Sea swimming is a very cost effective way to get fit and enjoy the outdoors and you do not need all of the expensive kit as you might do in other watersports such as SCUBA diving or boating.

All you really need are the essentials:

Sea Swimming Westuit

Of course, if you are a hardcore swimmer you may not need this but most people do, especially if they plan to swim in the Winter and Spring months. Sea swimming is best done using a proper sea swimming style of westuit which is typically thinner and more flexible than the standard surfing wetsuits. You can feel like the 'Michelin Man' if you try sea swimming for any proper distance if you wear a normal wetsuit so we recommend hiring/borrowing or buying one of these wetsuits which can be picked up for £70-£80 second hand; new they can cost between £160-£300.


Any style of googles can be used. I personally find tinted goggles are best in cases of sun glare and expensive sea swim googles are not essential. Of course, if you want to get serious about your sea swimming then you can invest more in polarised lens googles. One thing I would recommend is to get some goggles that come with a hard case, or hack one from somewhere else, eg. an old sunglasses case. This will help prevent damage to the strap and lenses of the goggles, prolonging their life and also reducing unnecessary stress during your swims.

Swim Tow or Swim Bouy

It may not look like much but an illuminous swim tow is one of the best bits of kit you can have as a sea swimmer. The primary purpose is to give visibility to help in rescue situations, to avoid getting hit by boats or jet skis, for other swimmiers to see you and so on.

It can also act as a float for taking a breather. We've written a blog about this, check it out.

It is also useful for boosting your body out of the water too, if you are trying to see other swimmers in choppy water or sight off a landmark; or to rescue another swimmer if absolutely necessary.

You can also stand or sit on them (when deflated) to protect you feet or bum! (Taking care not to place on sharp stones of course).

If nothing else, everyone tends to agree they provide that 'peace of mind' when out in deeper water and this means you will feel more relaxed and a relaxed sea swimmer is an efficient sea swimmer.

Swim Hat

We would recommend the 3mm neoprene hats with the chin strap, specifically for sea swimming. One option in Winter is to use these with a regular rubber swimming cap over the top. Opt for the brightly coloured / illuminous coloured hats for safety reasons. In the summer months, the neoprene hats are not really needed and indeed you may overheat if you use them. Pay attention to your body temperature, each person is different.

Swim Socks and Gloves

In the Winter/Spring months we would definitely recommend specially designed sea swimming socks. They are relatively inexpensive and come with split large toe and thin fliexible soles. Do not try to sea swim with booties or SCUBA boots. Sea swimming gloves are also thinner than regular surfing gloves and are a snug fit, but worth it if you plan to swim year round.

Warm Clothing

It goes without saying that you'll need warm clothing for sea swimming in the UK, especially out of the Summer months, but even then we would recommend taking spare warm clothes as thw weather can change and as soon as the sun goes in, it can get nippy.

Fleeces are great as they are light and keep you warm when wet. Down body warmers are lightweight and superbly warm, but lose their heat retaining efficiency if they get wet. A DryRobe is the king of warm gear and engulfs you in a world of lovely warmth after your swim.

Gear Bag

A large bag, with a sturdy zipper is best. SCUBA bags are ideal as they are made of mesh and allow wet gear to drip dry when packed.


Other items include such things as a rash vest, change mat, dry bags, phone/valuables box, activity watch and more, but these are not essential to start and can be built up over time.

Click here for a detailed areview of a sea swimmer's full kit list.