If you have access to training equipment like fins, paddles, or a snorkel; you have an incredible opportunity to enhance your swim training. The biggest advantages of using equipment are the ability to mix up your training all while working on improving technique, efficiency, and increasing swimming strength. Sometimes it’s hard to know how or when to use your equipment to get the biggest bang for your buck. Here’s a few things to think about when you’re trying to decide when to reach for your equipment bag!
Know its Purpose
Each piece of equipment offers a different opportunity to improve some technical or strength component of your swimming.
Fins: Fins can help develop an efficient kick and allow you to focus on improving body position and rotation. If used in moderation, fins can be a great tool to improve cardiovascular fitness and overall swimming efficiency.
Paddles & Pull Buoy: A pull buoy shuts off your lower body and allows you to focus on creating a high-elbow catch and building upper body strength. It’s important to keep technique in mind while training with paddles and/or a pull buoy because these can often mask stroke imbalances.
Snorkel: The snorkel restricts the amount of oxygen that enters or leaves your body, which can increase aerobic capacity and breath control. It also allows you to focus on stroke technique without the interruption of turning or lifting your head to breathe.
Kickboard: The kickboard allows you to isolate your legs and develop a strong kick. We highly advise training the legs in as many body positions as possible, including streamline on front, streamline on back, streamline on either side, and streamline underwater. Varying your kick training will yield the most efficient technique and results.
Don’t Overuse Equipment
It can be really hard to take your fins or paddles off after a set. Your arms feel like noodles, and it feels like you’re not going anywhere. It’s important to warm-up adequately before putting any equipment on. This will lessen the “noodle-feeling” you get when you take the equipment off.
It’s also important not to become dependent on equipment. While it’s perfectly ok to use a particular piece of equipment for a majority (or the entirety) of a workout, just keep in mind that do so is probably impacting your overall swimming performance. If that’s not an issue, then go for it.
If you’re a more experienced swimmer and you’re looking to get faster, keep your equipment usage to less than 50% of your total workout volume. Some days you may go over, other days you’ll be under, but keep an eye on how often you’re using your equipment and it will make a big difference in your ability to transition on and off of your swimming toys.
Combine Swim Equipment
Don’t be afraid to use multiple pieces of equipment together during sets. Using your fins and paddles at the same time can be a lot of fun and lead to increased performance gains. That added resistance will also make you work harder. If you want to take it to the next level – add the snorkel!
You’re limited by your imagination, so be creative and see what works for you. Log and plan your swims to get the most out of your time in the water with your equipment. If you have any equipment you like to use in particular, share in the comments!