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What's In Your Swim Bag?

Roka has just released their new line of goggles they've named spctrm performance optics.

When it comes to goggles, a person can typically find a pair that work from any of the leading manufacturers. You'll find the same with one of Roka's 4 styles.

In the past, the only thing I cared about was that the goggles didn't leak...of secondary importance was that I wouldn't be blinded by the sun. What is unique about Roka, is that they cover the basics, but take it a step further. They have various lens colors that enhance the ability to view the swim buoys during openwater swimming based on the lighting and backdrop.

I think this is very clever and can allow you to swim straight, sight less, and swim faster.

Here is an article I wrote last year for Lava.com about what you should include when packing your swim bag for a race.


There is nothing worse than showing up race morning having forgotten something. By establishing a routine or checklist that is exactly the same for each race, you’ll reduce or eliminate the possibility of this happening to you. This isn’t new information, but it’s not often followed. There are a lot of athletes trying something new on race morning…either by choice or because they forgot something.

Our anxiety levels are already heightened before a race. Being prepared will reduce anxiety and allow you to relax once you arrive to the venue. This won’t only improve your racing experience but also improve performance.


Once athletes are in the water and have successfully made it throughout the first few 100 meters of the swim, all is well. However, making it to that point is the stressful part with all the “stuff” you need to organize just to be able to race a triathlon. In this installment, I will walk you through the strategy that I use to prepare for the swim portion of a triathlon. It is simple, easy to follow, and won’t take up a lot of precious luggage space.

The first thing I do is take a look at the forecast and race guide. I want to know what the conditions will be like and if there are any rules that will require me to pack extra gear. I also want to know what the water temperature is so I know if I need to bring a wetsuit or not.

Water temperature at certain venues are obvious, while other’s, especially towards the end of the summer are dependent on the variable weather. I’ll do my best to gather historical information for the race, but will always be prepared for multiple scenarios.

I believe you have five options if you’re wanting to move through the water as efficiently as possible…meaning, you want to go as fast as possible at a given effort:

  • Full Wetsuit – comfortable wetsuit water (< 72 degrees)

  • Sleeveless Wetsuit – warm, but still wetsuit legal (72-76 degrees)

  • Skin Suit with ROKA SIM Shorts – warm water, but they make it wetsuit anyway (76+ degrees)

  • SIM Shorts only – warm water and you have a history of overheating (76+ degrees)

  • Skin Suit – proper non wetsuit swim

A full-sleeved wetsuit is your fastest suit option. However, It gets tricky with these borderline wetsuit swims where the water is quite warm. Many athletes will take the risk knowing the full-sleeved suit is the fastest, but I encourage you to consider the risk of over-heating. It’s a hard decision to make when you see your competitors using something faster, but consider how starting your day off with an elevated core temperature can impact the rest of your day. Many times, athletes will never recover from over-heating during the swim.

I think the best option for the warmer long course swims is to wear the ROKA SIM shorts over your skin suit. You will greatly reduce the risk of over-heating and I’d be surprised if you gave up any time to your full-sleeved competitors since you’re cool and comfortable. It’s also the cheapest option if you’re concerned about performance on a budget, but want an option for both wetsuit and non-wetsuit legal races.

Once I’ve decided on my wetsuit/swim skin combo, I move on to other items…

Goggles: I pack 3 pairs of new or slightly used goggles. These are the same style of goggles that I train in…nothing new! I want to use new goggles because the lens is clear and they seem to not fog as easily as older pairs. I keep each of these goggles in the package they came in to prevent them from being scratched or smudged from handling.

Why three pairs? Mainly for various light conditions, but also incase of malfunction.

Lens Colors:

  • Direct Light: Vermilion or Grey Mirror

  • Low Light: Light Amber or Vermilion

Swim brief: to wear under my wetsuit during my pre-race swim and to keep my race shorts dry

Silicon cap: that I will use in a pre-swim or under the race cap for a cold water swim.

Plastic grocery bag(s): Wetsuits are difficult to get on if you’re wet. If it’s raining or warm enough that you’re sweating, using a plastic bag on your feet and hands makes it much easier to get the suit on.

Body Glide: I will put some body glide on my neck and then around my ankles and lower leg or the suit to help get my wetsuit off. I don’t usually put anything on my wrists or arms of the wetsuit since it’s easier to get that part off, but you certainly could if you struggle there.

Hand towel: This gives me a dependable surface to stand or sit on while I’m putting on my suit. It keeps my feet dry and free from dirt or debris and will also protect my suit from damage on rough surfaces.

Putting it all together…walking down to the swim start, this is what you’ll find in my swim bag. Recreate this list or make your own list, but make a list!

  • wetsuit (full or sleeveless based on information before I travel)

  • swim skin (always bring this)

  • SIM shorts (depends on wetsuit option)

  • 2-3 pairs of goggles based on light conditions

  • swim cap (silicone or latex)

  • swim brief

  • body glide (normal deodorant size)

  • Plastic grocery bag

  • Hand towel

  • Nutrition/Fluid (pre-race fuel)

Other than the water temperature. Nothing impacts what I pack in my swim bag before a race. I do it the same way every time (routine), which limits the chance of forgetting something. This is simple and will give you confidence in your equipment and reduce pre race anxiety.


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