The great thing about swimming is that you do not need much equipment. A pair of goggles, a swimsuit, a pool or open water, and you are good to go. However, if you are someone putting time and effort into training to be a better swimmer you will want to consider using some different equipment.
Training equipment serves 2 purposes, to help with some sort of improvement and to mix things up to keep training interesting. Let’s run through some of the common training toys and what purpose they may serve you.
Hand paddles are great for increasing your underwater pull strength as they add extra resistance when you pull your arm back through the water. They are also good for exaggerating your underwater pull awareness. If you do not have a swimming background you likely have an undeveloped feel for the water, adding paddles to your hands gives you something more to leverage on therefore exaggerating your awareness of what your hand is doing.
A pull buoy has many uses. It can be used for lifting your lower body up to help with learning to swim or to make swimming easier, it can imitate your body position to be more like you are swimming with a wetsuit, and it can be used to limit your kick to train your upper body. A pull buoy is always a good combination to have with paddles, swimming with pull buoy and paddles builds strength and power for your underwater pull.
Having a pair of fins is great for doing certain drills when working on your technique. Fins are a must for someone learning to swim. Fins also help to build kicking strength and power as they add increased resistance to your legs while kicking.
A kickboard is used for working on your kick. You can hold it out in front and work solely on your kicking. It is great for building your kick fitness and speed and also great for learning.
A swimming snorkel is a little less common than the other items, however, it is a really good tool that any freestyle improver should have. Using a snorkel allows you to forget about breathing and really narrow your focus on whatever else you are working on. It is also really good for working on keeping your head still – a common issue many people have.
An ankle band is used to stop you from kicking. This can be used to train your upper body as not kicking makes it harder on your arms doing all the work and also tends to make your lower body sink which makes you work even harder. It is also great for helping people who kick too much learn to be arm dominant freestylers.
Answering this depends on your goals and also what you struggle with and want to improve. I have listed below what I think the most important equipment is to have – listed from highest priority to lowest priority for someone who can already swim but is training to improve.
1 – Pull Buoy
2 – Paddles
3 – Fins
4 – Snorkel
5 – Kickboard
6 – Ankle band
Having different equipment to call upon to help different aspects of swimming is great and even if you do not want help from any equipment, having it there to mix things up when training will keep you in the water for longer.
Carl is head coach at Swim360 Coach, a former Olympian and national champion freestyler. Carl now uses his skills and passion for coaching and competing in the open water.