Getting Started in Swimming

In Britain, swimming is a crucial part of the school curriculum and the government has introduced ‘top-up’ schemes which call for children who cannot swim 25 m by the time they have finished primary school to be given an intensive course of lessons. In addition to having lessons at school, many children learn to swim through swimming clubs in public swimming pools and most pools offer lessons for ages five to ninety five.


Swimming is one of the easiest sports to partake in, mainly because it requires very little equipment. A swimming costume or trunks are all that is really required for swimming. However, for novice swimmers, arm bands or rubber rings are useful implements that will stop the swimmer from going under the water.

Swimming costumes

The first swimming costume was developed in the Victorian era and has since been modified according to changing fashion and function. Men usually wear trunks or boardshorts for recreational swimming, or competition briefs for competitive swimming. Women’s swimming costumes are generally either a one piece, bikini or, for competitive swimming, what is known as ‘the racerback.’ In recent years, the ‘body skin’ has been developed, a special type of costume developed to reduce skin drag in competitions.

Swimming cap

Swimming cap are crucial for competition when every second counts. Made out of latex or silicone, the hair is tucked underneath, reducing hair drag which would slow the swimmer down. Swimming hats are also a safety device eliminating the risk of long hair getting cut on the railings of the pool and swimmers are often requested to wear them for health and hygiene reasons.

Swimming Goggles

Plastic glasses with a rubber sealing that allow the swimmer to see when swimming underwater.

Arm bands

Coloured plastic flotation devices worn by novice swimmers around the tops of the arms to increase water resistance and ensure the swimmer stays above water.

Ear plugs

Designed to fit comfortably in the ear, ear plugs are worn for protection during swimming to avoid cold air getting into the ear canal.

Floatation devices

  • Floats – Floats are often used as an aid to help beginners practice a stroke whilst staying on top of the water. They may also be used as a training aid for competitive swimmers.
  • Kickboard – A flotation device used by swimmers in training to practice the leg movements of a stroke.
  • Pull Buoy – A flotation device pulled by swimmers as a training technique.