Swimming is very nice sport. Just the water is a bit too cold during entrance. I can swim four styles (I think there are no more): breast stroke, crawl, backstroke and butterfly (not much, but yet).
After I've learned swimming, I've found finswimming. It is much faster and so I like it more. Style is more or less only one, dolphin kick (similar to butterfly kick with monofin), which is usually swam on the stomach. It is swam on the back only during training exercises. Finswimming accepted "bifin" disciplines recently, practically crawl with bifins. I don't like it much as I take to monofin. I think I am quite good, however times and results are on other subpage, so you can navigate there if you want.
Pool SF (surface) - normal
- 1850SF - no more in EU
Pool AP (apnea) - holding breath (can't surface before finish)
- 15AP - only E
- 15/10AP - only E (last 10 meters can be finished on surface)
- 25AP - only D
- 50AP - C and older
Pool IM (immersion) - with bottle with compressed air (can't surface before finish)
Pool BF (bifins) - crawl with bifins
On open water (river / sea / dam)
- LD (long distance) - usually surface and long disciplines
- Orienteering - with air tank, compass, some screw with counter and itinerary
- Swimsuit - covers body parts
- Goggles - protects eyes
- Snorkel - allows one to breathe (during surface disciplines)
- Bottle with compressed air - allows one to breathe (during immersion disciplines)
- Monofin - allows one to pull strongly
- Bifins - instead of monofin and for BF disciplines
Body cover. Swimsuit should be equipped with lace instead of rubber, as rubber does not tend to keep swimsuit on the place. Swimsuit should also contain little to no elasten (it may be comfortable, but it is too quickly disintegrated by chlorine so the swimsuit does not last much). Woman suit should be single part, as double part ones are almost impossible to keep on the body during swimming.
Apart from normal swimsuit also better ones exist. At first some longer and fastening, which fastens body fats/relaxed muscles/skin thus lowering hydrodynamic friction. It can enhance final time a little.
Another better suit is full body suit (I don't mean classic woman swimsuit). These works similarly as fastening, however covers bigger part of the body.
Somewhere near the top are so called "shark skins". These are special kind of full body suit from specific material similar to shark skin which glide through the water easily (has lower friction than human skin or classic swimsuit).
It needs to be said, that not all swimsuit can be used on all competitions. Organizers, CMAS and swimsuit makers makes various pressures which results in various subsets of allowed swimsuit at given competition.
Swimming with monofin is quite fast, so water flow along eyes is not comfortable at all, moreover chemical properties of the water are not exactly friendly to eyes either. Also swimmer should be able to see anything while swimming, for example the lane line and the pool ending.
More goggle types exists, for example classical (picture left) and spherical (picture right). Most people know the classic ones, they just fit you or not. I personally don't like the feeling of them squeezing your eyes. Spherical ones are often confused with diving goggles, main difference is missing pressable nose cover (so you cannot equalize pressure in both: goggle space and ears) and they are more concave.
I prefer spherical, when I get little water in them, it is possible to move it into only one eye are. I just get used to them and it is easier to buy, as you don't have to pick much - either most of them fits you or almost none. Currently I started to use ones covering also nose, which can be utilized to blow out water.
Snorkel is pipe for breathing. Competitor's snorkel differs from scuba one by being mechanically stronger and leading centrally from mouth through forehead up. Usually it even does not have mouthpiece like the scuba one, the pipe end is simply finalized by piece of rubber/silicon sometimes enhanced with a duct tape. I am using piece of bicycle tire tube and duct tape (easily replaceable when bitten off). The soft mouthpiece common with scuba snorkel can be easily bitten of and inhaled moreover some of them lessens breathing diameter. However recently I have seen some competitors with scuba ones like mouthpiece, maybe materials are becoming stronger once again.
Swimmer not only holds his snorkel in his mouth, it is also fastened on his forehead with headband (metal) and rubber (solid, like from car tire tube, not bought tearing one)
The most important part of the gear, it is glass-fiber blade (can be kevlar or carbon fiber) with boots.
Big monofin is allowed only for D category, younger ones can swim only with smaller ones (basic categories are by age, E the youngest and A adult)
Monofin can be built from various materials, I do recognize:
- Soft glass-fiber
- Middle glass-fiber
- Hard glass-fiber
- Carbon-fiber (or kevlar)
Monofin can be differentiated by type:
- Classic - laminate with boots
- Thomson - something between N/A and standard
- N/A (non axial) - originally called by inventor (Andronov)
Monofin can be differentiated by blade cut:
- Straight cuts
- Wavy cuts
- Cut by arrows (sharp waves) and waves on the second layer
Monofin can be also differentiated whether it is cut till the end, or it has left little uncut part at the end to prevent tearing (good thing). Proper monofin should bend itself through the blade up to the connection of boots (including). Monofin which is bendable only after boots is not considered good one.
Normal monofin is made from cardboard (prefabricate of PC motherboard without holes and junctions), from which the metal is removed from both sides. Process usually starts with cutting main monofin shape and then the blade is being cut layer by layer until the blade is finished. Finally the blade is enriched by boots (formally salvaged from bifins).