As coaches, we have swimmers coming up to us all the time asking for advice on the best gear to improve their swimming. There are loads of different products out there and it can be difficult to determine what products are worth investing in and have the biggest impact on your freestyle stroke.
In choosing swim gear, we must understand the functions and know their needs for those gear. Here are some of my favourites, with, as always, special thanks to Paul at Swimsmooth.
1. Finis Long Floating Fins
These are the fins that suit adult swimmers the most. Our ankles tend to be stiff and with the help of long fins, it will allow your feet to point (plantar flexion) while you are swimming. Improving ankle flexibility is key to an efficient leg kick.
In addition, when performing catch and upper body/core drills, such as the 6/1/6, broken arrow or advanced unco drill, these fins will give you the full support of a streamlined body position as your legs would be brought to a horizontal position with the fins.
When getting long fins, test the flexibility of the rubber, like the Finis ones. The harder, stiffer ones would hurt you more than help you.
There are two sets of paddles that you MUST have in your bag if you are looking to get closer to a perfect stroke.
Finis Freestyler Paddles
This is the best set of paddles to start with. It guides you to have the proper fingertips entry, hence improving your overall alignment. If you are swimming with a poor technique such as with a crossover or dropped elbow, these paddles will shift and displace due to its rudder feature, thus giving you instant correction for your next stroke.
Check out more about the Freestyler here
Finis Agility Paddles
Once your hand entry and alignment have improved, the Finis Agility Paddles are the next set of paddles for you. These paddles are designed to fit your palm perfectly, giving you the most natural and strongest catch feeling in the water. It will guide your arm to be vertical to pull and push the water behind effectively.
Training with larger paddles on the other hand, risk injury to your shoulder if you train with poor technique. It is wiser to improve your strength through dryland exercises than through use of big paddles in the water. These do, however come in different sizes to be sure to check that out before purchasing.
Check out more about the Agility Paddles here
Swimmers who struggle to keep their legs horizontal on the surface of the water will love this. You use the pull buoy to keep your body position horizontal and to power the speed from your upper body. At the same time, you can choose to put it between your thighs to develop your upper body strength, or to put it between the ankles to improve your core balance.
We also use this pull buoy as our kickboard during a kick set – giving resistance at the front and inducing a stronger kick from the rear which strengthens the kick.
Our swimmers generally love to pair the pull buoy with the agility paddles to give them the fastest swim speed ever!
Of course, there are many more swim gear out there such as snorkels, short fins, kickboards, etc. to enhance your swim technique. But to kick-off your swim, these 3 are ESSENTIAL.