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SwimRun rules permit swim aids such as hand paddles, pull buoys, even fins if you are so inclined but there are no transition areas and all gear must stay with you for the entire course so choose wisely. The goal of this guide is to layout the basics of swimrun gear. This guide does not cover swimrun shoes as we feel that a general running shoe is appropriate for SwimRun Maryland, however, there a many good swimrun shoe options on the market worth considering. After purchasing equipment (or borrowing from a friend) , be sure to practice before race day!  

Much of the gear discussed in this guide can be found at We have also provided links to brands that we recommend in each product section. 

Mandatory Swimrun Gear

SwimRun Maryland requires individuals and teams to carry mandatory items with them during a race. The mandatory items includes the following:

  • Swim Cap - provided by race

  • Jersey (bib) - provided by race


Optional SwimRun Gear

Various gear can be used during swimrun. Below is a basic list that will get you started. 

  • Wetsuit

  • Pull Buoy

  • Paddles

  • Goggles

  • Tether

  • Swim Buoy


SwimRun Wetsuit

Historically, SwimRun Maryland is held each Spring (early May). The 2023 race has moved to late September. Air and water temps will be different than prior years. 

The water temperature at SwimRun Maryland has traditionally been in the upper 60s/low 70's. For the past two years, a wetsuit has not been mandatory, however the following wetsuit policy is in place each year. 

If the low race day air temperature and low race day water temperature, combined, is less than 120F, wetsuits will be MANDATORY. If the low race day air temperature and low race water temperature is equal to or greater than 120F, wetsuits may be optional at the discretion of the Race Director


Swimrun wetsuits are DIFFERENT than standard open-water or triathlon wetsuits. Swimrun-specific wetsuits typically have a front zipper (and sometimes a zipper in the back), varied sleeve and leg lengths (Long, short, sleeveless or removable) and are available in a variety of colors. Some Swimrun wetsuits are made more for running, some more of swimming and some that are right in the middle. These wetsuits will also come in varied thicknesses for different temperature conditions. Finally, most wetsuits do come in gender specific fit and sizing. Other considerations when choosing a swimrun wetsuit are cost, durability, storage (suit pockets) and fit.

Can I use a wetsuit I typically use for triathlon or open water swim races? Technically, yes. However, most of these wetsuits are thick and designed for swimming only. A swimrun wetsuit is designed for swim AND run. Running in a wetsuit might sound crazy, but remember, in swimrun there are no transition areas. You carry all of your gear with you the entire race. Swimrunners are often seen running with their arms out of their wetsuit and around their waste. Generally, swimrun wetsuits are thinner and more flexible so that you can run while wearing it.

Some recommendations for swimrun specific wetsuits:

What do I wear underneath my wetsuit?

Based on the air temperature, participants typically wear a swimsuit or triathlon top & bottom. Choose something that is comfortable to swim and run in. Same applies if you choose not to wear a wetsuit.  


Pull Buoy

The pull buoy should be a staple of every kit and there are some general considerations to sort out when choosing a pull buoy.  

  • Shape and size

  • Comfort while running

  • Mounting position (waist/lasso mount or side/ leg mount)


A pull buoy will help support your hips, legs and feet during each swim, especially when swimming in your shoes. Choose a pull buoy that best fits your level and style of swimming. In general, the bigger the pull buoy the better and the faster you will be in the water. Depending on your mounting position some people might prefer to have a smaller buoy than a large buoy. Swimrun specific pull buoys can be purchased or you make your own. Check out this do-it-yourself video.



Swimrun paddles are an easy and cheap way to move faster in the water. Paddles do take a little bit of getting used to, but once you get some good practice and build strength they make a huge difference. We recommend choosing paddles with a finger and wrist rubber strap. This will make sure they fit you well and not fly off your hand during the race.  



Swimrun Maryland takes place in Greenbrier Lake. Visibility during the swim legs is pretty good however a pair of googles with a wide view is recommend. A pair of googles used for standard open water swims or triathlons is acceptable. 



The tether cord is used to stay in contact with each other in the water and land. While tethers aren’t mandatory at SwimRun Maryland, most teams will opt to use one for longer distance events. The length of a tether can vary depending on comfort level, but typically you want it just long enough so that you stay on your partner’s feet in the water. Teams then attach each end to their wetsuit (some suits have integrated loops for attachment) or to a waist belt.


Compression Bandage and Whistle
Swimrunners may elect to carry a compression bandage and whistle with them during this race. These are optional pieces of equipment. 


Swim Buoy
Swimrunners may elect to carry a swim buoy with them. This is an optional piece of equipment. There are many different types on the market. New Wave Swim Buoy is a leading product. 


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