You've heard of duathlons, but have you heard of SwimRun? It's a relatively new kind of racing and it's growing in popularity.
Your choice of kit for a SwimRun is important, as it involves running in a wetsuit, swimming in trainers, tied to a partner. We asked the experts at Zone3 what you'll need to take part
The most important part of choosing your SwimRun kit is knowing which items are going to improve your performance rather than impend it. You need to source a wetsuit that provides enough buoyancy and insulation to swim in colder waters but isn’t going to make you overly warm during your run.
SwimRun isn’t bound by the same rules as general triathlons, so you have the freedom of choice when it comes to your kit. The only stipulation is that you must be able to carry it through the event.
There are now a few collections of SwimRun specific suits on the market, and Zone3 have worked hard to ensure that they provide one of the finest collections, and have suits that provide breathability, comfort, and functionality.
The entry-level Zone3 Men's Versa is a suit that proves powerful but comfortable, with easily accessible front zips for extra breathability on the run and neoprene panels for ease of movement, and are cut just above the knee to ensure extra flexibility in leg movement.
The Zone3 Swim-Run Evolution Wetsuit with 8mm Calf Sleeves is a suit for the more advanced triathletes and is a suit complete with neoprene calf sleeves, designed to provide you with enough buoyancy so as to not need to bring a buoy in the water with you, which is handy if you don’t fancy carrying around the extra weight of a buoy.
If on a budget, or not sure if SwimRun is for you, it’s recommended that you simply take an old or second-hand wetsuit and customise it for your SwimRun by cutting the legs to just above the knee. The only downside of this is that most wetsuits have zippers at the back of the suit rather than the front. So, it would then be recommended that you practice undoing your suit from the back with a race partner so as to make sure you can properly ventilate on race day.
If racing in colder waters (9°C and below) then it’s also recommended that for extra insulation, you wear a warmth vest underneath your suit. The Zone3 Neoprene Long Sleeve under Wetsuit Baselayer is a great bit of kit to help keep you suitably warm in even the coldest of waters. This top has a 1.5mm neoprene layer, which is tight-fitting with a high neck for fuller coverage, and a single seam for better comfort. This vest insulates well due to a titanium coating on its internal material which helps maintain body warmth.
We’d also recommend a Zone3 Neoprene Swimming Cap under your compulsory swim cap (this will often be provided by race organisers on the day) in those extra cold waters to help prevent any heat being lost through your head.
We would highly recommend using a pull buoy. As you have trainers on, your body position is altered and drag increases. To counterbalance this, we suggest using a pull buoy which has two holes in and a thick elastic strip threaded through.
If you are quicker with paddles on then you can use them, as long as you can manage to carry them around throughout the race and not mind them possibly slowing you down. Paddles are a personal preference, but the Zone3 Power Stroke Swimming Hand Paddles are an excellent choice. When running, you can clip them to your waistband or keep them on the back of your hands.
If you choose to race in a suit that doesn’t have calf guards added to it, the Zone3 8mm Calf Sleeves are great for adding additional buoyancy to your swim as your feet will be dragged lower in the water by your running shoes. Also, they’re great for further insulation. The Zone3 Evolution comes with these.
Sighting is crucial in SwimRun as unlike triathlon there are often no buoys to sight from – just a flag or similar on the other side of the swim. Photochromatic lenses are excellent as they give you better visibility in changeable weather conditions. The Zone3 Vapour Goggles are great for SwimRun as their large, curved lenses give an excellent field of vision, allowing you to carefully navigate which direction to swim in, and spot any other swimmers. The Vapours have ultra-soft silicone gaskets, meaning not only are they comfortable on the face, but they provide cushioning for any knocks or bumps in the water from other participants. Pressure around the eyes is minimised with these goggles, meaning you’re kept comfortable throughout those longer swims.
Whilst you have more freedom on what kits to wear, there are rules as to what safety kit to bring, for obvious reasons. You will need to bring a compass and whistle combo with you to provide optimum safety in the water. The Zone3 SwimRun Compass and Whistle Bungee is a great bit of kit, and the Zone3 Evolution suit comes with this included. When registering for your race on event day, you’ll be given a compulsory swim hat, race bib, timing chip and map.