(Apologies in advance for the weird spacing on this post. No idea what is up with that!)
Once you get the basics of swimming, like knowing how to not drown…the next important step is learning how to swim effectively. It is one thing to get from point A to point B, but if you really want to be a better swimmer, you have to learn to swim with purpose. Adding toys will not only help to build strength but also keep your workouts exciting. Yeah, that’s what she said (figured I would beat you to it!).
Kickboard- (These come with or without a strap. I can only speak for non-strap kickboards as I do not use the strap.)
How it is effective: Kickboards allow you to give your arms a rest and exclusively work your legs while you swim.
How to use it: Kick your legs to propel yourself through laps while your upper body floats on the water. They are most productive when done with the face out of the water and the arms on top, gripping more towards the front.
Pull Buoy- (There are adjustable and non-adjustable, but I can only speak for non-adjustable as it is the only kind I use.)
How it is effective: It is a training device for developing endurance and upper body strength. It provides resistance because it prohibits the legs from kicking. Using a pull buoy gives the arms a workout by providing flotational support for hips and legs. Additionally, a bilateral breathing rhythm can be refined.
How to use it: Place the buoy between your legs (the higher up, the better) and begin to swim. It takes a few laps to get used to the first time, but is generally very easy to use.
How they are effective: Fins will work to increase ankle flexibility and overall leg muscle strength. Additionally, they help increase your speed and help build your endurance.
How to use them: Alternate kick sets between freestyle and backstroke to build uniform leg muscle strength.
Gloves- (Hand paddles are an alternative to gloves, however I have never used them.)
How they are effective: Enhances workout by adding resistance and builds upper body strength.
How to use them: Put them on. I know, things are getting tough- haha.
How it is effective: Impact-free workout, especially good for those in recovery. Also helps strengthen and support lower back and tone abdominal muscles.
How to use it: It is honestly very tricky and takes some getting used to. At first, it is best to try walking motions, followed by jogging in place. It took me a few tries to actually move while jogging in the water. But once you get going you can really work up a sweat. You will be amazed at the workout!!
For me, a typical workout includes a warm-up, free swim, drills (with and without equipment) and a cool-down. I try not to exceed 400 meters using equipment. There are different schools of belief when it comes to how often to use this equipment, so I recommend doing what works best for you personally. The only suggestion I will make, and I have said this before, is have a plan. Don’t bring all your toys to the pool on the same day.
Stay tuned for part 4 of Swimming 101: pool drills and open water swimming