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Swimsuits and goggles are required. Everything else is optional. It can be difficult to find swimming equipment locally. Here are some reliable online from the sources:

  Swim Outlet Usually has the best prices Kiefer Large online shop
  Varsity Swim Shop Online with a retail store in
  North Reading, MA
  (check website for store hours)
Aqua Sphere Online Store - Alpha Fins Alpha Fins are usually less expensive elsewhere, but sometimes it's difficult to find the right size

Snug Fitting Swimsuit

Required for all programs. For men, this means either a racing brief or a jammer - not baggy surfer-boy trunks or a drag suit. For women, this means a one-piece competitive swimsuit - not a two-piece.


Required for all programs. There are hundreds of models, so one of them will fit you comfortably. Have a pair before your first class.

If you wear glasses, note that there are many inexpensive (under $20) prescription goggles available online. See the resources above. Here is a link to a pretty good video on goggle fitting (not an endorsement):

Zoggs Goggle Fitting Video (on Facebook)


Optional but highly recommended. Fins will teach you to kick stronger, better, sooner. Also, when working on technique, fins allow you to focus on almost any aspect of the stroke without having to worry about stalling

For freestyle and backstroke, I highly recommend Alpha Fins from Aqua Sphere (top). Because they float, these fins keep your feet and legs closer to the surface, which really helps newer swimmers experience and adapt to proper body position. The second choice is the BLUE (not red) Zoomers from Finis (bottom). For butterfly you should use longer fins like the Alpha Fins. If you want to learn all strokes, and only want to invest in one pair of fins, go for the Alpha Fins.

Several odd-looking fins have been made for breaststroke, but currently none are recommended.

Do not use scuba or snorkeling fins, which are too long and heavy to use with the standard strokes.

Front Mount Swimmer's Snorkel

Optional. Using a front-mount snorkel removes breathing as an issue when mastering other essential skills. It allows you to perform virtually all of the basic posture and stroking drills without worrying about how to get that next breath of air. The Freestyle Snorkel and the Swimmer's Snorkel (both from Finis) are the only front-mount snorkels we have used. For triathletes, other endurance swimmers, and freestylers, the Freestyle Snorkel is OK, but if you want to do butterfly, you need the (more expensive) Swimmer's Snorkel, as it allows a deeper head position. (More information.)

Freestyler Hand Paddles

Optional. These help to burn in good hand placement, movement and anchoring. Do not ever use paddles to pull hard and yank your shoulders out of their sockets! The Freestyler hand paddles from Finis have a nice feature not found in most other paddles: a skeg that helps to keep your hand moving forward, which can help you to overcome or avoid altogether the slipping and sliding about of the hands that often happens when working on freestyle technique.

Tempo Trainer

Optional. This is a waterproof metronome that you put in your cap or under your goggles strap. It helps you to perform the right movements at the right time. As the Duke used to say, "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." You can also use the Tempo Trainer to monitor your running cadence (so don't throw away that clip-on holder).

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