Last updated: January 9, 2024
Whether you’re doing laps for exercise or just splashing around for summer fun, hitting the pool requires a little prep and the right gear. When getting your swim bag together you’ll need some swimming essentials to make sure you have everything you need when you get there.
Forgetting something as simple as goggles or a swim cap can derail your plans for a refreshing dip. However, there are also other pool bag essentials you might not think of too which are just going to make sure you have the best possible experience each time you hit the pool.
This guide to swimming essentials covers must-have items like sun protection, cleansers, and towels so you can focus on enjoying the water without worry. With this guide, you’ll stay cool, comfy, and set up for success the next time you make a swim date. No more racing to the store for flip flops or struggling through chlorine-damaged hair.
Prep like a pro and check out the key swimming supplies I recommend stowing in your go-to swim bag this season.
Waterproof phone case and wallet
A little waterproof bag or fanny pack like this is such a good idea if you take valuables like your phone, keys and wallet to the pool or beach with you.
You can carry them in to the water in one of these bags to keep them perfectly safe and dry. It’s a great way to get some peace of mind that you’re not leaving valuable possessions and money in the open while you swim.
Whether a bikini, one-piece, or trunks, obviously don’t forget your suit! Some people like to wear their swimsuit under their clothing to go to the pool. This makes getting ready to go in much quicker.
Dry change of clothes
One of the most important things you’ll need to take with you to the pool is comfy clothes to change into after swimming. Dry clothes are a blessing after a long day hanging out at the pool, and they’re often forgotten about.
Don’t forget to pack your underwear as well as socks, shoes and anything else you’ll want to go home in.
Pool cover up
If you’re planning on spending the whole day at the pool you’ll want something to cover up in so you can walk around comfortably, perhaps to go get something to eat. It’s also handy to have a pool cover up if it suddenly gets a little chilly.
Good cover ups around the pool include kimonos, beach dresses, a romper or a sarong.
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A dry bag like this is so useful for a pool day. It keeps your wet bathing suit and towel away from the rest of your belongings at the end of the day. You can also use a plain plastic bag.
Depending on where you swim, you may need some water shoes. They are lightweight, quick-drying shoes that protect your feet from hot sand, sharp rocks and anything on the bottom of the pool or sea.
They’re also really good to wear if you use public showers at the pool to avoid getting anything nasty in contact with your skin.
I swear by microfiber towels for use both at home and as swim essentials. They are small, high-absorbency towels that pull moisture from your hair and body quicker than regular towels.
If you have longer hair just wrap your wet hair up in one of these to get it to dry quicker.
Pair of goggles
Even if you’re not planning on putting your head under water, googles are one of those swimming essentials you’ll wish you had if you didn’t pack them.
You can use them to stop sea water or chlorine getting in your eyes, prevent those annoying splashes bothering you at the pool, and even protect against eye infections.
Any time you head to an outdoor pool, open water or the beach you should ensure you have a hat with a wide brim to protect your head and face from the sun’s rays. A hat is also a good way to reduce sun exposure at the hottest time of day so you don’t succumb to exhaustion in the summer heat.
Swimmers wear nose clips primarily to prevent water from entering the nasal cavity which can cause discomfort; by closing off the nose, clips allow for smoother underwater swimming, help prevent sinus infections from pool bacteria, and avoid irritation that could lead to nosebleeds during extensive training.
It’s really worth wearing one if you’re planning to be underwater a lot.
It’s vital to wear sunscreen any time you’re at the pool or the beach, even if it’s cloudy, to protect delicate skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Make sure you always have one in your beach bag or swim bag and be conscious to reapply it after going in the water.
You can also keep SPF in these handy sunscreen applicators for easy use.
Stainless steel bottle
You should make sure you stay hydrated before, during and after swimming especially on a hot day. Keep reusable stainless steel water bottles for everyone in your swim bag so you can keep water cool, and can fill them up again and again.
This also cuts down on buying plastic water bottles.
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Keep a brush in your bag to help detangle chlorine-damaged hair post-swim.
The best one I have ever used is the Wet Brush which detangles wet hair without any hard work involved. It doesn’t pull the hair too so won’t cause any breakage.
You don’t need to be a competitive swimmer to wear a swim cap. All swimmers can wear latex caps to contain long hair and keep it off their face for better visibility and technique.
Not to mention, swim caps also protect hair from chlorine damage by creating a barrier between hair strands and the water chemicals. If your hair is bleached then a cap is ideal to stop the chlorine affecting the color.
Waterproof hair ties
If you tie your hair up in the pool, then waterproof hair bands are excellent pool day essentials. These swim scrunchies repel water so they won’t stay wet in your hair, and they’ll keep it in place at the same time.
Earplugs in the pool keep water out of the ear canals which prevents infections from contaminated water. These handy little earplugs also prevent irritation in the ear canal during extensive swimming in cold or chlorinated pools.
If you’re prone to ear infections these little things are a must-have.
Anti-fog spray can be very useful for swimmers to apply before wearing goggles, as it prevents the lenses from fogging up with condensation that obscures vision. By applying a thin coating of surfactants or glycerin-based spray, the droplets are unable to form on the lens, allowing for clearer underwater sight.
It’s really handy to have as one of your swimming bag essentials if you wear goggles, as it just makes life a little bit easier.
You usually get hungry after physical activity so if you go to the pool or beach then tasty snacks to refuel afterwards are swimming essentials.
Fresh fruits like oranges and bananas along with trail mix, granola bars, yogurt parfaits, and vegetable crudités make excellent portable, nutrient-dense snacks to refuel and rehydrate after time in the pool. Whole grain crackers, rice cakes, peanut butter sandwiches, and similar high protein, high carbohydrate options also provide lasting energy when spending extended time swimming or lounging poolside.
Keep a handy pair of flip-flops with your swimming gear to wear around the pool and locker room to avoid foot infections, and prevent slipping on the pool deck.
Obviously a good towel is one of the most important items to keep in your swim bag. It’s essential for drying off post-swim, and it also doubles up as something to lay on if there aren’t any loungers available. Large beach towels are ideal.
You can get a portable bag full of pool toys that will fit easily in your swim bag. Things live diving rings, balls and fish will keep kids having fun in the swimming pool all day.
Foam items like kickboards, swim fins or noodles are sometimes allowed in public pools (although check before you go) so these can also be great options.
Something to read or play
If you’re having a swim day make sure you have something to read or do while you’re there so you can relax.
Pack your favorite books, puzzles or even a pack of cards in to your swim bag to have something to do if you get bored of swimming.
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The summer season is awesome but it does bring with it some drawbacks that you need to be prepared for, such as bugs and sunburn.
Prepare a little clear toiletry bag for pool days and fill it with these essentials so you’re always equipped for anything:
- hand sanitizer
- soothing aftersun lotion
- bite relief cream
- band aids
- lip balm
- body wash
- shampoo and conditioner
- any personal medications or epi-pens as needed
A fitness tracker
This is optional because they’re usually used by professional athletes training for competitive swimming. However, if you’re going to the pool to get better at swimming and develop a good technique then fitness trackers are an awesome option to keep in your swim bag.
Lock and key
Some swimmers keep a lock and key with them for occasions when they can’t secure their personal belongings in a locker or cubicle. It’s just a handy item to have in case you need to lock a cubicle or attach your swim bag to something fixed so it doesn’t go astray. You can usually pick these up at thrift stores or car boot sales.
If you have young children who are learning to swim then arm bands are perfect. You simply deflate them at the end of the day and store them in your swim bag for next time.
For infants and toddlers who require them, a reusable swim diaper is a godsend. Keep a spare or two in your swim bag for your little one.
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Never find yourself short at the pool or beach again with these ultimate swimming essentials. Have a fun day and a great swim!
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Frequently asked questions
The basic equipment you need to start swimming is a swimsuit, goggles, towel, and access to a pool; while items like swim caps, ear plugs, fins, kickboards, and pull buoys can refine your training later on, you can start by grabbing goggles for eye protection, a swimsuit that fits your activity, and a towel to dry off with after swimming laps or enjoying recreational pool time.
Some fun items to enhance your pool visit include pool toys like noodles, rafts, balls, and pool floaties for play, as well as speakers for music, snacks for the breaks between swims, magazines or books to read while lounging, and games like cards or water guns for enjoying the pool recreationally with friends and family.
Before getting into the pool, you should shower to rinse off any dirt, oils or other substances on your body, use the restroom, and thoroughly apply waterproof sunscreen over any exposed skin to protect from sun damage during your pool visit. Make sure to drink some water too on hot days.
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