The 5 Best Tools for Improving Your Swim

 

Swimming tools aren’t just handy toys that aid in learning when you’re just starting out in the water, but can actually help you to continuously grow and improve as a competitive swimmer. When they’re used effectively, tools for swimming can improve your technique and speed, making you a stronger athlete in the water. So what swimming tools are the most effective at giving your performance a boost?

 

Fins

Swimming fins can help you grow accustomed to a faster race pace by increasing the speed propulsion of your kicks. They assist in developing ankle range and flexibility, leg strength and proper form when kicking because their design prevents your legs from crossing over.

There are different types of fins that can work on different weak points i.e. shin fins for practising kicking from the hip joint, mono fins for the same plus additional abdomen strengthening, and regular fins for speed.

 

Fins are best used on the same sets you would normally swim. By shortening the number of strokes needed to cross a distance they allow swimmers to increase their focus on stroke form, kick form and how well they’re positioning in the water.

 

Tips:

Use vaseline to prevent friction and blisters while swimming in fins.

Shorter is better when shopping for fins; if they’re too long they’ll slow you down instead of speeding up your kicks.

 

Snorkel

 

A front-mounted swimmer’s snorkel can help you develop a more balanced swim, preventing muscle imbalances, like swimmer’s shoulder, that can happen when your stroke is more dominant on one side.

 

Using a snorkel allows swimmers to keep their heads still, without the need for turning to breathe. This lets them focus on stroke count, breathing technique, as well as maintaining proper head positioning and body rotation during strokes.

 

Tips:

Swimmer’s snorkels are great for practising sculling techniques.

The Finis swim snorkel is a favourite of many swimmers and triathletes alike.

 

Pull Kick

 

Pull kicks are a 2-in-1 swimming tool, combining the functions of pull buoys, which isolate arm movements, and kickboards, which isolate leg movements, allowing swimmers to work on either of the two.

 

When used between the legs as pull buoys, they can be placed at the ankles, calves, knees or thighs, keeping the lower body elevated and allowing swimmers to train different aspects of their strokes, pull techniques and breathing rhythms.

When held between the hands as kickboards, keeping the upper body elevated, they help swimmers power up their kicks. This allows them to focus on pace, form and technique while they strengthen their lower body.

 

Tips:

Don’t forget to keep rotating your hips when using a pull kick to isolate arms/legs.

Similar to a pull kick is a kickball for swimming, which is shaped as a ball rather than a figure of eight board. Kickballs offer less support and force you to focus more on your body alignment. They can also be used under your chin to aid in head positioning.

 

Hydro Hip

 

The Hydro Hip belt from Finis is designed to help swimmers train using proper hip rotation. It has two resistance flaps on either side, adding extra weight, making rolling more difficult during training and thus easier during swims without it.

 

Great rotation is a core part of a winning swim technique; it extends a swimmer’s power and reach, as well as preventing injury.

 

Tips:

Use a padding between the belt and fin attachment if you need to make the connection tighter and prevent sliding.

 

Tempo Trainer

 

A tempo trainer allows you to simulate a race while training; attaching to your goggles it releases a beeping tempo as you swim, telling you whether you’re on, behind or ahead of a pace you’ve set it to. Its beeping indicates that you should be taking a stroke.

 

Using a tempo trainer takes a lot of the guesswork out of pace training and allows swimmers to focus on the techniques that will help them increase their stroke rate and overall speed, preparing them for competition.

 

Tips:

Relying too much on a tempo trainer can have the adverse effect of decreasing the efficiency of your stroke. It’s important to strike a balance between training pace and technique, the latter having the greatest impact on the outcome of your swim.