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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. Below are a few major pieces of equipment and their respective benefits:
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 allows you to shut off your lower body and exclusively focus on your catch and pull pattern. This allows you to work 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 can increase aerobic capacity and breath control by restricting the amount of oxygen that enters or leaves the body at any given time. It also allows you to focus on stroke technique without the interruption of turning your head to breath.
Kickboard: The kickboard allows you to isolate the 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 The 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 the equipment you use. 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 it’s taking a hit on 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 on 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.