In this article we look at some useful swimming gear for training in order for you to get the best performance during your triathlons. In future articles we will look at each item in more detail so watch this space…
Whether you are swimming in a pool or open water (OW) you will need a pair of goggles. There is a wide choice of goggles available on the market, but we recommend you don’t buy a cheap £5 pair. Before buying your goggles you need to consider what type of swimming you will be doing and where. The minimum specification we would recommend for any swimming in a pool environment or OW is that the lens have some tint to reduce the glare off the water from the sun or indoor lighting.
Fins are designed to improve your kicking technique and ankle movement. They increase overall endurance and strength in the leg muscles, whilst helping to achieve a better body position and movement in the water. Using fins can help reduce shoulder injuries due to additional propulsion from the legs.
The pull buoy is used to improve a swimmer’s power. The buoy is normally clamped between the upper thighs and helps to float the legs and hips to the surface of the water, putting you in a good body position. Using the pull buoy neutralises the legs (i.e. no kicking) and only uses the arm stroke to pull you through the water, which develops strength in the arms and upper body.
A useful addition to your kit is a central swim snorkel. The snorkel is strapped to your head and faces the front (rather than to the side as in a diving snorkel). The benefits are that it helps you balance your stroke, maintains a streamlined position, maintaining a steady head position and gives a fuller kick.
Hand paddles are used to improve your stroke by developing/strengthening upper body muscles in the back, chest, arms and shoulders. Wearing hand paddles helps improves your initial catch and pull motion through the water (stroke). When the catch and pull through are correct you will feel a significant increase in swim speed due to extra resistance from the water. Getting the right size hand paddle is important to reduce injuries.
For beginners the kick board is a useful piece of kit to have if they are lacking confidence in the water. With most kick-boards, placing your hands/arms on top of the board results in the shoulders/head being raised out of the water and therefore lowers your hips and legs (no longer in the ideal streamline position). Some kick-boards have handles at the end which helps keeps your shoulder lower and a lower head position (especially if using a central snorkel).