Best swim training tools review 2015
Could these four handy swim training aids help you rule the pool? 220’s Jack Sexty dives in and puts them to the test…
>>> Swim training kit, explained
Speedo Biofuse Power Paddle
Price: £15 from www.speedostore.co.uk
These paddles from Speedo have a noticeably larger surface area than most, and you certainly feel it. Using them is more reminiscent of a weights session in the gym than a leisurely swim – when you pull through they force you to make a huge effort to complete the stroke.
They won’t do you any favours if you have poor hand-entry technique, though, as the paddles are so large you can’t help but slap your hand flat on the surface.
As long as you have the intuition to revert back to an angled entry when not in use (and don’t use them too much) then they’re a good strength-builder.
Verdict: Unavoidable hand-slappage on the water, but a useful gym/swim time saver, 81%
Zoggs Pull Buoy
Price: £11 from www.zoggs.com
This pullbuoy from Zoggs does away with the traditional ‘figure of 8’ shape and is thicker where your thighs grip, which makes it easier to hold on to. It’s also very buoyant, replicating the feeling of buoyancy you get in the lower part of a tri wetsuit.
The shape is of further use to swimmers who need to improve arm technique – some swimmers’ hands tend to cross over the centre-line when using a pullbuoy, but the extra leg-raise means you can concentrate fully on your arm technique rather than keeping yourself afloat.
You can of course combine the pullbuoy with hand paddles for a real strength-building workout in the pool.
Verdict: Great shape, well-priced and suitable for all abilities to help improve technique, 92%
Auritech Hearing Protectors
Price: £19.95 from www.auritech.co.uk
Those who don’t suffer from dreaded ‘swimmer’s ear’ might balk at paying 20 quid for what is essentially two pieces of rubber, but there’s far more to these earbuds than meets the eye. They completely prevent water from reaching your ears, and the three-level design means they’ll fit all ear sizes at some point along the shaft.
On a practical level they’re comfortable and don’t slip during hard swim sets. You can hear everything around you perfectly, though you may experience some paranoia that you’re shouting when you speak, but a completely muffle-free solution is perhaps unrealistic. They also come with a handy hard-case tube attached to a keyring.
Verdict: Pricey, but a very worthwhile investment if you suffer from swimmer’s ear, 86%
Underwater Audio Swimbuds iPod Bundle
Price: £115 from www.amazon.co.uk
For those who like swimming to a beat, American brand Underwater Audio have handily struck up a friendship with Apple, producing a waterproofed 2GB iPod shuffle and four styles of earbud to suit numerous types of lughole (two swim-specific, two miscellaneous).
Admittedly, Bob Marley probably wasn’t the most energising choice to get us through a lengthy threshold set, but the sound quality and fit of the earbuds (both swim-specific pairs) couldn’t be denied.
It’s recommended you clip the iPod to the back of your goggles then wrap the wires around your straps, which is quite fiddly. You can splash out on the mega bundle with sport headphones if this is an issue, but the earbuds stayed in our ears for our entire warm-up.
Underwater Audio’s claim that Swimbuds are ‘flip-turn friendly’ is slightly exaggerated, as when you ramp up the pace you notice the wires pulling. We couldn’t confidently do a hard set without them slipping out or feeling like they would, but it’s for those long steady swims you’ll want added entertainment, and this is a decent solution.
You also get a zipped carry case, and although the iPod has been modified by Underwater Audio it’s supplied in Apple’s original packaging.
Verdict: Not completely ‘flip-turn friendly’, but great for steady aerobic swims, 84%
(Images: Jonny Gawler / thesecretstudio.net)
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