Three Great Gifts for Triathletes
Competing in a triathlon is not easy, but there are a few items that can help your favorite athlete make it to the finish line.
In an Ironman-length triathlon, participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then finish by running a full 26.2-mile marathon. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Fortunately, shorter races are popular, and racers ranging from children to senior citizens are joining the craze. For most triathlon participants who come from a biking or running background, the swim is the most difficult portion of the race, making swim gear an excellent gift. If you’re shopping for a gift for the triathlete in your family, you won’t go wrong with these three ideas.
One of the most critical pieces of equipment for the swim portion of a triathlon is a good set of swim goggles. Swimming in lakes and the ocean, where most triathlon swims take place, is different than swimming in a pool, so goggles made for that purpose are always the best choice. Googles with increased peripheral vision, comfortable straps and gaskets, and crystal-clear lenses make lake and ocean swims more enjoyable. Goggles with anti-fog coatings are also better for the swim portion of a triathlon, since fighting fogged up goggles is hinders navigation. UV protection is another good lens feature because it can help protect a racer’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
There are several types of earplugs that people use for swimming, and they vary in their effectiveness. Foam earplugs like those used to dampen loud noises are cheap, but not very good for swimming. Flanged ear plugs are universal-fit conical shaped plugs with multiple flanges that act as barriers to water entering the ear. They are fairly inexpensive and are good starter plugs. Ergonomic ear plugs are shaped to fit snugly inside the ear and lay flat against the outer ear, so are a little better than flanged plugs. Moldable plugs, which are the best and most expensive kind, use a silicone putty that is applied to the outer ear canal to form a comfortable, custom-fitting seal regardless of ear shape.
A good wetsuit is one of the most critical pieces of gear for a triathlon swim, especially in cold water. For one thing, the thermal quality of a wetsuit can keep a swimmer warm even in very cold water. Additionally, wetsuits can be buoyant, making it much easier to swim long distances without tiring. They’re also extremely smooth on the outside, which allows triathletes to glide smoothly through the water compared to swimming without a wetsuit. A big question to ask when buying a triathlon wetsuit is whether to pick one with or without sleeves. A wetsuit with sleeves is warmer, more buoyant and has less drag than a sleeveless one. But a sleeveless wetsuit will be easier to get off in the transition area and less constricting around the shoulders.