What Do Olympic Swimmers Carry In Their Swim Bag?


an Olympic swimmer with their head in the water

I am obsessed with Olympians and what they carry in their swim bag as well as all the other little habits they may have as part of their winning strategy.

As an Olympic swimmer, you need to be prepared for your meets and competitions. That means having all the gear and gear accessories you need to give yourself the best possible chance to perform at peak levels. But what exactly do Olympic swimmers carry in their swim bags?

In general, Olympians have goggles, swim caps, swimsuits, water, electrolytes, supplements, snacks and towels in their swim bag. In addition, Olympians pack extra items such as multiple new goggles, swimsuits and swim caps in case of a gear failure on race day.

It is remarkable how similar an Olympian’s swim bag is compared to the rest of us recreational or armature competitive swimmers. The most notable difference between an Olympian’s swim bag contents and that of an average swimmer is the cost of the swimwear and all the spare new googles and tech suits.

In this article I want to dig deeper into what is in an Olympian’s swim bag and why, covering:

  • What is in an Olympian’s swim bag?
  • What do swimmers have in their bags?
  • What is a mesh bag in swimming?

What Is In An Olympians Swim Bag?

When discussing what is in an Olympian’s swim bag, we have to consider that Olympic swimmers have a race-day swim bag and a regular swim bag for day-to-day training.

Let’s look at what is in an Olympian’s swim bag on race day first.

Olympians Swim Bag – Race Day

When competing, Olympians will have a set list of gear that they will have in their swim bag to bring to the swim meet.

Although this will change between swimmers, here is a standard list of what Olympians will carry in their swim bag to a competitive swim event.

  • Tech Training Suits: This is their main competitive swimming suit.
  • Spare Tech Suit: In case of a gear failure, Olympians will carry backup tech suits.
  • Training Suits: These are more comfortable swimming suits that will be used in the warmup pool. Again, Olympians will often have a backup training suit as well.
  • Goggles: Olympians will carry their goggles in their swim bag. These will generally be fresh goggles, straight out of the packet.
  • Spare Goggles: Again, Olympians carry backup swim goggles in case there is a problem with their main goggles.
  • Swimming Caps: Olympians will swim with fresh swimming caps and will have spares in their swimming bag as well.
  • Towels: Just like the rest of us recreational swimmers, Olympians pack towels to dry off.
  • Water: It is essential for athletes to stay hydrated during their swimming event so they will carry a water bottle.
  • Electrolytes: Olympians will sweat a lot during a swimming meet. It is essential to replenish electrolytes lost during sweating to stay in peak shape.
  • Snacks: Olympians can have many swimming races or heats to perform in one day, therefore keeping energy levels up is essential. Many Olympians will pack healthy snacks to keep their energy levels up.
  • Headphones & Music: If you have ever watched an Olympic swimming event, you will see many Olympians wearing headphones and listening to music right up until they swim. This can help them focus and drown out the background sound of the crowd.
  • Change Of Dry Clothes: Olympians do not just turn up to a pool and swim. They will warm up in the water before the race and complete some dry land exercises to stretch. Therefore, it is important for Olympians to have a change of comfortable sporty clothes that they can quickly change into and warm up in.

Olympians Swim Bag – Training Day

What Olympians carry to the pool on a training day will be very different from what they carry in the swim bag on a race day.

The following is a list of what an Olympian may have in their bag on a training day:

  • Training Suits: Elite swimmers will wear regular swimming suits when training and not the tech racing suits, which tend to squeeze the swimmers into a streamlined profile which can be very uncomfortable. They will only occasionally train in their tech suits.
  • Goggles: All Olympic swimmers wear goggles and train with them.
  • Swim Caps: Olympic swimmers will train with swim caps. Often they will train with a latex swim cap as it is much cooler, and on race day they will swim with a silicone cap for speed. However, this varies greatly, depending on the swimmer’s preference.
  • Towel: All swimmers, be they Olympic or recreational, need a towel to dry off.
  • Electrolytes: As we swim, we sweat, which results in the loss of electrolytes. Olympic swimmers will drink electrolytes to replenish the electrolytes lost during training. Recreational swimmers also drink electrolytes.
  • Foam Roller: Because of the high intensity of the workout, to massage their muscles, many Olympians will use a foam roller to massage their muscles.
  • Supplements: To keep their body in top shape, many Olympians will regularly take supplements to keep their body in peak performance. Again, the supplements taken by Olympic swimmers will vary depending on what each swimmer sees as a priority.
  • Snacks: Olympic swimmers burn a lot of calories on a typical training day and in order to stay energised, they will often take smaller wholesome snacks, such as granola or bananas, in order to give them short-term spurts of energy.
  • Training Aids: As part of their training routine, Olympic swimmers will use all the training aids available, such as hand paddles, pull buoys, and training fins.
  • Swimming Mesh Bag: All that training gear needs a mesh bag to be carried in. Swimming mesh bags are excellent for carrying swimming training equipment to the pool deck. I have covered the details of swimming mesh bags in more detail in this article, Swimming Mesh Bag: What Is It and How Does It Work?

What Do Swimmers Have In Their Bags?

For regular recreational swimmers, we basically have the same gear in our swimming bags as an Olympian on a training day.

Here is an image of all the swimming kit I take to the pool on a daily basis.

My Daily Swimming Bag Content

Swimmers, from recreational to elite, generally have the following in their bags for a swimming pool training session:

Gear ItemRequirementComments
SwimsuitEssential
GogglesOptionalAlthough goggles are optional, if you place your head in the water, they will greatly help. Essential for competitors.
Swim CapOptionalFor some pools and countries, wearing a swim cap is essential.
EarplugsOptional
TowelsEssentialYou will get wet swimming, so you will need to dry off.
ShampooEssentialIf you use shampoo, it is essential to put it in your swim bag so you can remove chlorine from your hair after your swim.
Shower GelEssentialIt is important to shower after your swim to remove dirty water.
Swim Mesh BagOptionalSwim mesh bags are perfect for transporting swim training aids to the pool deck.
Swim FinsOptionalExcellent training aid.
Hand PaddlesOptionalExcellent training aid.
Pull BuoyOptionalExcellent training aid.
Tempo TrainerOptionalExcellent training aid.
Waterproof HeadphonesOptional
This Table Shows What Is In A Swimmers Swim Bag

What Is A Mesh Bag In Swimming?

When discussing what is in a swimmer’s swim bag, it is important to know what a mesh bag is.

A mesh bag in swimming is a lightweight bag made from a breathable mesh material. It is great for carrying wet gear such as training equipment as it allows the swim gear to dry naturally in the air.

I have covered the details of a mesh bag and how it is used in swimming in much greater detail in this article, “Swimming Mesh Bag: What Is It and How Does It Work?”

Final Thoughts

Having the right gear is essential for any Olympic swimmer looking to perform at their best during meets and competitions.

From basic items like goggles and swim caps all the way up to team-specific gear such as t-shirts and banners, it’s important that swimmers have everything they need before heading into the pool.

Being organised is an essential part of race day strategy for Olympic swimmers and having a well-packed swim bag with everything a swimmer needs is the best way to ensure a good and smooth race.

Happy swimming!

Louise Byrne

Hi, I am Louise and I am obsessed with swimming. I spend my free time in the water or getting ready for my next water adventure.

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