When most people go swimming, they’ll instinctively grab their costume, a towel and maybe some goggles. But whether you’re an early morning riser committed to getting in the distance or someone who prefers a quick dip, there’s one product that will make your swim even better: earplugs.

Earplugs help to prevent water entering the ear canal, reducing the chances of infection and the dreaded swimmer’s ear. They can also help to tune out background noise and – allegedly – even offer streamlining benefits if you’re chasing that PB.

When looking to purchase swimming earplugs, you’ll want to find a pair that fit comfortably and don’t let water in (obviously). There’s no standard sizing and most come in a universal one size fits all, which tends to suit most swimmers.

However, if you’re looking for additional comfort, or if you already know that your ears are on the small or large side, some brands offer different sizes and should be considered. There are also self-moulding earplugs, which you form yourself, if you’re keen to ensure a bespoke fit, although these can be harder to get right initially.

You should also consider whether you would benefit from any extras, such as a case or straps to keep them attached to goggles, or a sound filter to get rid of annoying background noise. Finally, we’d recommend buying a colourful pair as there’s nothing worse than trying to spot blue earplugs at the bottom of a pool mid-swim.

Over the last two months, we have taken a deep dive and tested earplugs from across the market during sessions in our local pool, lido and (when we were brave enough) the sea. We rated them based on their fit (including how easy they were to insert), comfort, storage and noise cancellation abilities.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Arena ergo ear plug: £7, Simply Swim

We’re going to make a confession: the first time we used these earplugs we didn’t realise they were colour coded to help us distinguish between our left and right ears. Once we had worked it out, however, it was a game changer. The clever design means you no longer have to faff around at the beginning of swims, working out what goes where. And that’s not their only benefit.

From their compressed silicone stem, which makes them sturdier and easier to handle, to their hollow centre, which cuts out background noise while ensuring you still hear the important bits, we found these were a cut above the rest. They also have a simple flap of plastic at the bottom of each bud, which acts as a double barrier to the water. Like many of the other pairs on the market, they come with their own reusable plastic carry case for when you’re not in the water. What’s not to like?

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Auritech water sports earplugs: £19.95, Amazon

Auritech is a specialist earplug brand, which has been developing products for more than 20 years. Luckily for us, this has included designing a pair specifically for swimming and water sports. The first thing we noticed about these was the comprehensive instructions on the back of the packet, helping us to insert them properly before entering the pool (hint: pull your ear back before inserting and twist gently to remove).

Made from silicone-free thermoplastic, we found the design protected well against water. The sound filter is genuinely effective and doesn’t muffle noise, making them particularly good during races. They also come with a metal storage tube, which can be attached to a key ring to stop you from searching through your bag every time you want to find them. Although this pair has a slightly higher price point, we think it is absolutely worth it – especially if you are serious about swimming.

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Speedo biofuse aquatic earplug: £7, Speedo

Speedo prides itself on its high quality swimwear and accessories. So it should be no surprise that the brand’s earplugs are comfortable and highly effective. Their ergonomic design, which features multiple layers, led to a secure fit and stopped any water entering the ear canal. The product also uses Speedo’s “biofuse” technology, which the brand says is “designed to perform in complete harmony with your body”; they are certainly comfortable and soft to the touch.

The blue and grey buds are thinner than some of the other pairs we tried, which suited us, but is worth considering – particularly if you’ve previously had issues with earplugs falling out during swims. For £7, you get one pair and a plastic carry case to help keep them hygienic.

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View 2 way silicone ear plugs: £6, Simply Swim

Unlike any of the other pairs we tried, these earplugs come with handy straps, which can be attached to your goggles, making them near impossible to lose. We loved this feature and found it boosted our confidence, particularly during outdoor sessions and in the sea. We’re also pleased to report it’s definitely not style over substance. The three-tiered design means they not only block out water, but also any unnecessary background noise. Plus, they are made from soft silicone, so they’re super comfortable. And for £6 for one pair, they’re good value too.

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Nike swim ear plugs: £6, Wiggle

Nike are renowned for creating high quality products, and these earplugs, which are part of its relatively new training aid collection, are no different. Made from soft rubber, the double flange design is flexible and moulds to your ear from first use. They also have the added bonus of a flared end for extra protection from the water. We found they were particularly good in the pool and held firm even during flip turns and butterfly. They come with a clear reusable carrying case, so you can be certain you’re storing them hygienically – even if they end up at the bottom of your gym bag. We also loved their bright design. It’s a big tick from us.

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Zoggs silicone ear plugs: £6, Zoggs

Some swimmers told us they can be put off by self-moulding earplugs. But we found this pair by Zoggs easy to shape and as effective as most others on the market. For those who are nervous, the packet has handy instructions on the back, which recommend shaping the earplugs to fit your outer ear (plus, you can reform the plugs into a ball to reshape if needed). We would suggest spending some time getting the fit right when they first arrive, otherwise they are liable to fall out and are a pain to spot in the water. You do get two pairs (and a reusable carry case) for £6, however, making them among the cheapest around.

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Aqua Sphere earplugs: £3.99, Amazon

These are one of the cheapest pairs we tried, but don’t let that put you off. These simple blue earplugs from Aqua Sphere are still just as effective as some of the more expensive pairs, especially if you’re in need of a slightly bigger bud. The conical design and soft rubber material help to prevent water entering the ear canal. A longer handle can make it feel like they are more likely to fall out – but we found we had no issues. Made from soft rubber, they also come with their own reusable carry case, despite the low price point.

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The verdict: Swimming earplugs

We thought the Arena ergo ear plugs were great value and offered extra benefits that’ll see you through any session. If you’re serious about swimming and want a specialist brand, then Auritech’s earplugs offer loads of great additional benefits. We also think the View 2 way silicone earplugs deserve an honourable mention for their highly effective design and straps to ensure you don’t lose them.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.