Swim equipment is mostly straightforward, since you only essentially need a pair of goggles and trunks or swimsuit to get started. However, there are some great swim tools out there that will help you get the most out of each training session while improving your technique at the same time! Here are some of the best swimming aids available and a brief explanation of how they can help improve your form.
Pullbuoys are held between your legs to lift them up without you needing to kick. This allows you to get into proper body position in the water and decreases drag from your legs. This tool allows you to focus on your arms and work on your stroke technique as well as strength, since you’re relying on your pull to move you through the water rather than your leg kicks.
Using a pullbuoy is great if you want to rest your legs while improving your arm strength and technique at the same time. You can go for pull sessions either as a first or second workout of the day if you’re planning to do something more intense with your legs in the other workout.
Your legs are the biggest muscle group of your body and when used properly can help propel you faster in the water. A great triathlete needs to have a good kick as a way to change pace and move forward ahead of your competitors, or to keep you in touch when drafting off a slightly faster swimmer.
A good kick helps keep you horizontal in the water, eliminating drag from your legs. Isolating your kick motion by using a kickboard also helps you detect whether it’s your kick technique that might be holding you back (e.g. if you kick with a foot flexed toward your shins, you will actually move backwards!).
Kick sets may be used before main sets to warm up your legs. You can kick on your stomach, or change things up by kicking on your back. You can hold the kickboard close to your chest, or in front of your body at arm’s length.
Fins are a great swimming aid for beginners and veterans alike. Fins help beginners correct their kicking, while it also helps all levels of swimmers increase flexibility in their ankles. Kicking with fins lifts your legs up to horizontal position in the water and allows you to swim faster; you remember how this feels, which will help you try to find that same position when you then swim normally without fins.
Using fins while doing other drills can also help you stay afloat and keep moving forward, so you can focus on doing the drill.
For squad swims, you can use fins while swimming with faster swimmers in the same lane so you can keep up with them and not hold up the intervals.
(Sinking legs in the swim? Try this.)
Paddles act like an extension of your hand, so a greater surface area allows you to grab onto more water than just your hands could. Hand paddles are a great tool to gain arm strength. This also helps with proprioception, allowing you to feel the water more and understand how to “catch” water and pull yourself forward.
While you might see the pro swimmers training with paddles the size of chopping boards, to begin with you can use paddles that are at maximum one inch longer than the end of your fingertips. This helps you build that strength gradually by engaging the correct muscles, and avoid straining your shoulders.
Perhaps the most important of the swim tools in this list, swim goggles allow you to keep your eyes open even underwater, protecting your eyes from pool chemicals or salt water while letting you follow the black line or sight to stay on course. It’s one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on swimming.
Before heading to your local pool or beach, make sure to check first which swim tools you’re allowed to use so you can plan accordingly! Get the most out of your training sessions with these tools, and you’ll have better form and fitness in no time.