All Swimming aids detailed in this list (and more) are available from South West Swim at www.southwestswimstore.co.uk.
We have been asked a lot recently about training aids, what they are and what they do for your swim. At South West Swim we stock a range of training aids that will help you develop and correct certain aspects of your stroke.
We coach using Swimsmooth methods at South West Swim* and therefore utilise the FINIS technical swim equipment for stroke correction, along with the HUUB big Buoy. Training aids can be a bit of a mine field so we have compiled a quick rundown of the tools South West Swim use in coaching swimmers and offer for sale our online store. Basically, If we don’t use it in our coaching sessions for a meaningful purpose……………….. then we don’t stock it.
This list is presented in no particular order, as each aid performs a different function and targets different aspects of the swim stroke, and therefore different swimmers require different things.
- FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro – We will start with possibly the longest “brief” write up of all our swim aids. The tempo trainer pro is a waterproof wetronome and is a fantastic tool to help develop pacing skills and a rhythmic consistent stroke. You may have heard the term CSS training which is a key ingredient in the Swimsmooth method. A swimmers CSS pace is calculated by a 400m & 200m timed swim, some maths are applied and it then gives you a time per 100m to train too, it is also a guide to your current level of fitness. The tempo trainer plus goes hand in hand with this method of training. The Tempo trainer has 3 modes, two of the most useful (in my opinion) are:
Mode 2 – set the timer to beep after a certain amount of time, ideal for pacing your swim per length (i.e. making sure you can hit each length throughout a set at a designated time). This helps develop a consistently paced swim workout, training you to reduce the amount of drop off over distance.
Mode 3 – You set your SPM (strokes per minute) into the tempo trainer so that you can get a rhythm to your stroke. If you train at 60SPM the tempo trainer will emit a beep every 1 second, the aim for you, as the swimmer, is to enter the water with your hand upon the beep. To find your ideal SPM you should perform a SPM Ramp test or similar, then train to this pace. SPM is individual to the swimmer and the stroke type, if you are a swinger then you are likely to have a higher SPM to that of a smooth. This method is great for open water training where there are no ends to turn at, or markers to set your distance.
All Tempo Trainer Pro’s purchased through South West Swim come with a booklet explaining a little more about the device and training methods.
- FINIS Agility Paddles –
These paddles are great for developing a good catch and pull and are more of a technical paddle (mixed with a little power paddle). The paddle is not bound to the hand in anyway, it is simply held on when you place your thumb through the thumb hole. This means that any bad form within the stroke forces the paddle to fall off, promoting good form and also reducing the risk of injury that can be associated with incorrect paddle use / form. Water resistance will keep the paddle attached to your hand, no water resistance or incorrect hand position means the paddle will fall off. All in this is a great paddle which helps you adapt your stroke quickly.
- FINIS Freestyler Paddles – Our favourite tool at South West Swim! It is a very versatile paddle that helps with so many corrections in the front crawl stroke from the front end all the way through to the back. The paddle is attached to the middle finger with a single piece of tubing, meaning the paddle is unstable by design (this stability can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the tubing). The paddles unique design of a keel on the underside means that incorrect entry, exit or movement in the stroke is felt by the swimmer. The pointed front and middle finger strapping help promote a clean speared entry of the hand into the water and is also useful for the “middle finger” visualisation we use to reduce and help eliminate cross over in the stroke. We use this paddle as a core aid in our weekly sessions because of its versatility in both swim and drills.
- FINIS Centre Snorkels (Freestyle Snorkel and Swimmer’s Snorkel) – Great for kick drills and front end stroke development. The centre snorkel rides up the centre of the face and is fantastic for kick drills as it enables the swimmer to get into a nice streamlined position in the water and focus on the body position and kick, without the need to throw timing into the equation. When using the snorkel for swim drills it allows the swimmer to focus on their stroke mechanics without the worry of breathing, great for front end work (entry, catch, pull).
The Freestyler snorkel also has the benefit of promoting a good head position due to its unique bent design. If you look to far forwards (head too high) you will find the tip of the snorkel in the water and you will get a mouthful.
- FINIS Pull Buoy – Keeps the hips and legs elevated, promotes good body position in the water and builds core strength. Especially useful for Arnies and those with low sinking legs as it will help the athlete develop the feeling of proper body position. If you are a wetsuit swimmer a pull buoy will also give you more of the “floatation” you are used to when wearing the suit, aligning your swimstyle in the pool closer to that in the open water. A word of warning with pull buoys though, do not overuse and become reliant on them
- HUUB Big Buoy – All the benefits of the FINIS Buoy but with added floatation. The HUUB Big Buoy provides twice the floatation of most other pull buoys on the market and gives as close an experience to swimming in a wetsuit as possible (without actually wearing a wetsuit). Again heed the same warnings about not becoming reliant on the buoy, it is a tool for “helping” gain good positioning and building the core.
- FINIS Floating Fins – Great for kick sets and drills and helps to build power in the legs. Wearing fins also promotes good foot position and plantar-flexion (pointy toes). The added propulsion of wearing fins makes the ideal for use in kicking drills, especially those such as Kick on side or 6-3-6, 6-1-6 etc.
- FINIS Forearm Fulcrum – A strange looking device but one that really works. The fulcrum comes in two sizes and is designed to promote an early vertical forearm (EVF) which when achieved can improve your efficiency in the stroke. However, I have noted in my testing that this device has a great secondary benefit to swimmers who have a poor hand entry into the water and a stall in the stroke where the palm turns upwards and face forwards, aka puttin on the brakes. Using the Fulcrum in coaching I have noticed a massive improvement in athletes with this issue as you simply cannot move the hand / arm upwards, therefore allowing the swimmer to feel how the stroke should be and allowing them to focus on this positioning in future sessions without the fulcrum.
So that is our little rundown of the aids we use in our sessions. You may note that we have not included kick boards on the list. We may use kickboards occasionally in our sessions, but this would be for swimmers starting off their journey in swimming or in the warm up / cool down. It is my belief that using a snorkel for front crawl kick is much more effective due to the swimmer being able to get into a streamlined position, replicating the position we wish to have throughout the swim.
All of the Swim aids above (and more swim kit) is available from the South West Swim Store at www.southwestswimstore.co.uk. If you wish to discover your stroke flaws and ways to improve we also provide video stroke analysis. To have your stroke analysed contact South West Swim to discuss our video analysis sessions where we can advise on the best way forward to develop any areas of YOUR stroke.
*Please note that South West Swim coach using Swimsmooth methods and Jason was selected for the Swimsmooth Coaches education course in 2014. Whilst we maintain a close relationship with the folks at Swimsmooth we must note that we are not certified Swimsmooth coaches.