Many people love swimming because you don’t need a ton of gear to get started. At a minimum, a swimsuit, swim cap and goggles are perfect!
But if you want to take your training to the next level, it’s a good idea to invest in a few pieces of equipment. Depending on your goals, the right equipment will help you build strength, power and speed for faster races and more efficient workouts.
Let’s dig into our favorite swimming equipment, plus a free swim workout to show you how to best utilize your gear.
6 Essential Pieces of Swimming Equipment
If you’re ready to add some swim equipment to your bag, we recommend starting with one of these!
If you want to swim fast instantly, just throw on a pair of fins! Fins add extra resistance that, when used effectively, will also help you swim faster when you don’t have fins on.
Beyond the speed boost, fins are also a great tool to have in your arsenal for drill work. Wear them during more complex drills to keep your hips up, so you can focus on your technique instead of kicking hard to maintain your momentum.
Related: How to Swim Faster With Fins
Fins are ideal for beginners and advanced swimmers, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from short fins to long fins and even mermaid-style monofins.
If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting with shorter, softer fins first. As you get stronger and more comfortable, you can change up the length and stiffness for a different feel.
Paddles are our next favorite item. You might think of them as fins for your hands – they add resistance to your pull, and can help you refine your technique as well.
They come in a range of sizes, from small, fingertip paddles to massive paddles that are substantially larger than your hands.
If you’re new to paddles, start small. Swim shorter sets wearing them and slowly work your way up to longer swims and larger paddles to give your shoulders a chance to acclimate to the extra resistance.
3. Pull Buoy
The best compliment to a pair of paddles is a pull buoy! This floatation tool goes between your thighs, adding buoyancy that allows you to swim without kicking.
If you didn’t use a pull buoy and tried to swim without moving your legs, your hips would sink immediately and you’d have a tough time moving forward.
Pull-focused sets using a pull buoy can help you improve your hand entry, catch, pull and rotation. Plus, you’ll build some upper body strength!
We’re huge fans of incorporating technique work into every swim. And a snorkel is a great addition to those drill sets!
You won’t be able to use a traditional snorkel here – make sure to get a center or front mounted snorkel that sits on your forehead.
Related: How to Swim Faster With a Snorkel
When you use a snorkel, you don’t need to turn your head to the side to breathe, which allows you to focus on other aspects of your stroke, including head position, rotation, the pull and the kick.
It might take some time to get comfortable using a snorkel, so start with a few 25s and work your way up as you get the hang of it. Over time, you’ll see a boost in your breath control, too!
5. Tennis Balls
We know what you’re thinking: This isn’t a tennis court! But hear us out…tennis balls are a great tool to work on your catch and pull.
Grab one ball in each hand and swim freestyle. You’ll notice that you have a better feel for what your forearms are doing, and can focus on maintaining a high elbow, Early Vertical Forearm catch.
If you don’t have space for tennis balls in your bag, fist drill is a great substitute here.
6. Resistance Equipment
Last but not least, is the resistance category. Parachutes, power towers and drag socks may be lesser known to the average lap swimmer, but they pack a major punch!
These tools add tons of resistance. Fight against the extra drag for short distances to boost your power and strength. You’ll feel like you’re flying after taking these off!
Double Up Equipment
Depending on the focus of your workout, you may find it helpful to use multiple pieces of equipment at a time. Here are some examples:
- Paddles & a pull buoy for pull sets
- Fins & a snorkel for drills
- Paddles & fins for speed work
- Snorkel & tennis balls for drills
In the MySwimPro app, we’ll recommend which equipment to use for each set, so you get the most out of your workout!
How Often Should You Use Swimming Equipment?
Equipment is fun and all, but don’t get too carried away using it! We recommend keeping equipment usage to no more than 50% of your total weekly swimming volume.
This way, you won’t become dependent on your equipment to complete your workout. Remember: Equipment is a supplement to your training!
Try This Swim Workout
The bulk of this workout is four rounds of 4×50. On each round, you’ll use a different piece of equipment. Focus on Best Average effort for each 50!
Get more workouts like this one, plus 100% personalized daily workouts, in the MySwimPro app.
- Distance: 2500 yards/meters
- Duration: 55 minutes
- 5×100 Freestyle Easy @ 1:30
- 6×50 Kick Moderate @ 1:00 with Fins
Main Set (2x)
- 4×50 Freestyle Best Average @ 1:00 with Fins
- 4×50 Freestyle Best Average @ 1:00 with Paddles & Buoy
- 4×50 Freestyle Best Average @ 1:00 with Snorkel
- 4×50 Freestyle Best Average Descend @ 1:00 with Snorkel, Fins & Paddles
- 1×100 Freestyle Easy @ 1:30
Drop a comment and let us know which piece of equipment is your favorite, or if you have a go-to swim set using equipment. For more swim workouts, technique tips and analytics, start a free trial of MySwimPro Coach.