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How to Build the Perfect Training Arsenal

By ROKA, Michael Nystrom | Dec. 09, 2019, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

Sponsored Content by ROKA

How to Build the Perfect Swim Training Arsenal

ROKA Swimmer

Let’s face it, triathlon may require a bit more foresight than other sports in terms of preparedness. From the gear required for each of the three sports, to sports nutrition, travel plans and race registrations, there are a lot of moving parts that go into executing a race to the best of your abilities.

The best way to successfully arrive at the starting line healthy, in shape and prepared is to separate some of these logistics. Just as you’d approach the race itself (especially Iron-distance triathlon), breaking the sport into bite-sized chucks is easier to manage, and ultimately helps alleviate some of the stress that accumulates over time.

Luckily, swim training is one such component that is pretty straightforward and inexpensive as far as gear is concerned. For the price of an aero helmet, you can accumulate the majority of the gear you need, and most of the gear will last several seasons of wear and tear—if not longer.

We’re assuming you already have the basics covered, but if not, you’re going to need some goggles (we recommend ROKA’s R1 Goggle with Rapidsight technology), ear plugs and a swim cap to get started. These items are just the beginning—there are a wide range of training tools available to triathletes and swimmers that can help take training to the next level.

From SIM shorts to kickboards, here four pieces of swim gear we recommend all triathletes should include in their training arsenal.

Swim Paddles

Swim paddles are one of the most underrated and rarely used pieces of gear in a triathlete’s training arsenal. Somewhat resembling a plastic saucer, swim paddles are designed to help develop power in your swim stroke, and help develop the correct pathway through the pull phase of the stroke. Swim paddles also amplify how the angle of your hand and forearm influences stroke mechanics.

There are a few different sizes of swim paddles to choose from—think of them like changing between the small and big chainring on your bike. The larger-sized paddles are historically used for developing strength due to the increased resistance as it moves through the water. Smaller paddles are great for high-tempo drills and tend to force the swimmer to focus on technique.

The PRO Swim Paddles from ROKA come in four different sizes (Sizes 0 to 3), and choosing the right size depends on the size of your hands and the type of workout you’re looking for. The ergonomic shape helps the paddle situate itself nicely into the palm, and the textured surface increases grip when entering and exiting the water. Multiple hole locations on each paddle make it easy to customize the fit and feel of where the paddle settles on the hand—simply use the silicone finger and wrist straps to increase tension to the desired amount.


A kickboard is designed to provide flotation for your upper body as you work on developing your kicking technique. It’s an easy tool to isolate this motion, which allows you to kick the length of the pool while developing power in the legs and lower body, strengthening the core and exposing any inconsistencies.

While many facilities provide these for their members, having your own personal kickboard is never a bad idea. ROKA offers two different kickboard models—their larger Classic Foam Kickboard is perfect for everyday use, and the more compact Pro Swim Kickboard features a sleek, hydrodynamic design and is great for travel. Both are made with 100% molded EVA foam that’s not only super buoyant, but plenty durable.

Pool Buoys

Pool buoys are another valuable tool that belongs in a triathlete’s training arsenal. Commonly shaped like the number eight, pool buoys are designed to be situated high between the thighs and increase buoyancy through the legs and midsection of the body. This creates a more balanced position in the water, and allows you to focus on upper body stroke mechanics. It’s also a great tool for athletes who have an underdeveloped kick, as it immobilizes the legs and lifts the body to the surface.

Similar to the previously mentioned kickboards, ROKA offers both a Classic Foam Swim Pull Buoy (available in three colors) and a Pro Swim Pull Buoy (available in two colors). They’re made with the same durable 100% EVA molded foam as their kickboard, and each come in both regular and junior sizes. Starting with the regular size can help you focus on upper body strength and technique, and dropping down to the junior size will activate your core as well.

SIM shorts

If you’ve ever trained or raced in a wetsuit, you know how dramatically it affects your body position in the water (which ultimately affects your stroke mechanics). While it’s always a good idea to wear your wetsuit on at least a few training swims prior to the race (and especially in open water), it’s not something you can realistically do on a regular basis in the pool without overheating.

To make up for this inconsistency, ROKA developed their line of neoprene SIM buoyancy shorts. They act similar to a pull buoy in that they increase floatation, but the SIM lets you kick and mimics how the body moves through the water when wearing a wetsuit.

Available in two models, the SIM PRO II Buoyancy Shorts are designed to foster proper rotation along the centerline due to the less-buoyant side panels, and the SIM ELITE II buoyancy shorts promote maximum buoyancy for swimmers who need a bit more support. As with all neoprene, be sure to rinse the SIM with fresh water after each use, and let them dry thoroughly to increase their lifespan.

Learn more about ROKA’s line of performance swim equipment here. Follow ROKA on Instagram here.