There are plenty of options out there for swimmers when it comes to using specific pieces of gear to help improve technique and training. Besides your suit and goggles, here are five more pieces of equipment I would recommend to have in your possession on the pool deck, along with some useful reasons why:
- Swimmer’s Snorkel – This front-mounted snorkel is particularly helpful for developing a more balanced and full stroke. Not breathing to your dominant side and being able to balance out the workload across both sides of your body avoids overloading one of your shoulders. The snorkel also encourages you to keep your face down in freestyle and can help correct the wandering head and reinforce a straight-line from the top of your head to your ankles.
- Band – A simple little rubber band will add some serious power and torque to your pulling motion. It’s not easy – it forces you to keep your arms moving at a balanced and even rate and it will make your legs sink, so you have to be much more cognizant of keeping your hips high in the water and your head in line with your spine. Swimming with a band around your ankles will help balance out your stroke, increase your stroke rate, and will be a stark reminder to keep your hips nice and high in the water.
- Paddles – Training paddles help improve stroke technique and arm strength by evenly distributing water pressure. Using paddles will allow you to focus more heavily on your stroke, and properly enhance your feel for the water. When working on technique, it is important to remember to keep your elbows high throughout your pull. Larger paddles are typically best for focusing on wrist and elbow placement, and they provide a great increase in resistance. Paddles add surface area to your hands, and place increased resistance on your muscles as they work to catch and pull the water – increasing arm and upper body strength.
- Tempo Trainer Pro – Set your desired stroke rate into this small, waterproof device and do quality reps in the pool at your goal stroke tempo. It easily secures underneath your swim cap. This is race-simulation at its peak, and is the kind of mega high-grade training that will best prepare you for competition.
- Fins – Probably my favorite piece of equipment for swimmers. Strapping on a pair of fins can do a few different things to make you a more efficient swimmer. They will help you develop more flexibility and range of motion in your ankles and feet, can help sensitize you to swimming at race pace or faster, and can teach you how to breathe properly and maintain proper technique while swimming at a high velocity. Fins also help swimmers feel the difference between kicking from the hips (correct form) compared to kicking from the knees (incorrect form). Using fins is something else too – a whole lot of fun!
Incorporating equipment into a workout not only helps to create results, but also adds the variety necessary for consistent motivation. Changing up a routine workout through the use of the swim gear mentioned above is a great way to keep trainings fresh and exciting.