What is a swim parachute?

Not heard of a swim parachute? They can be a useful swim tool to help you develop your front crawl stroke. Matt Baird explains their benefits

Credit: FINISswim.com

 A swim parachute is attached around the waist with an adjustable Velcro strap during swim sessions. In a similar vein to a parachute used behind a dragster that catches air to slow the car down, a swim parachute at the end of the tether opens up to catch water. The aim is to provide resistance for a normal swim stroke to create a faster and more powerful swim stroke.


The swim parachute shouldn’t interfere with your swimming technique, so swimmers can increase load without compromising form and reap the benefits once the parachute has been removed.

But swim parachutes aren’t just there for the strength gains, says top tri coach Joel Filliol. “They’re also useful for improving body position, as well as making you aware of activating the correct catch technique,” says the current coach of Non Stanford.

“Training under resistance helps to reinforce better swim technique – especially in the front quarter of the stroke where the catch is taking place. Your body is smart – the added load will force it to find ways to be more efficient to move through the water.”

A swim parachute should allow you to kick properly – occasionally you may get your feet tangled in the strap if you’re kicking side-to-side instead of straight down – and it can be worn while swimming front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, and is also compatible with flip turns.

Like strength training in the gym, using a swimming parachute should be done for short repetitions and not for extended endurance sessions. Refine technique over 25m and 50m efforts and allow plenty of rest between sets.


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Finis Swim Parachute