The small amount of equipment you need to start swimming should not deceive you into thinking you need only buy a pair of goggles and a swimsuit. Swimming is all about technique, with some tools to improve your skills and others to make you swim faster. You will need the following essential items of equipment; secure and comfortable goggles to make training more pleasant and help avoid unnecessary injuries caused by swimming into people or objects. A tight-fitting hat means less drag, less wiping your hair out of your eyes and less chlorine damage to your hair. You may get a warmer head but you will have to race in a hat, so see it as race day preparation. And of course, swimming hand paddles.
Drag shorts, which are designed to be worn over your normal costume, build strength in swimmers with the good technique by adding resistance. However, they are not suitable for beginners, who need good skills before building strength. A set of swimming hand paddles will force you to swim with perfect hand placement or your hands will slip worthlessly through the water; always pick a small pair and then incorporate them a little at a time.
Swimmers use hand paddles to improve upper body strength, improve technique and vary resistance in the water. Hand paddles come in many different styles, based on the function you desire. Some of the most popular styles of hand paddles include Water Gear Aqua Flex paddles, Finis Freestyler paddles, Finis Agility paddles and Han’s paddles. Swim Paddles are often used by swimmers and triathletes in order to get faster. Are they worth it?
The answer is it depends on many issues. When one is new to swimming, the most important thing is to develop swimming skills and technique. This involves developing proper mechanics through the whole stroke and a good feel for the water. At this time paddles are not beneficial. As the paddles will prevent you from truly feeling the water and developing the proper mechanics needed when swimming in a race situation. Here are varieties of swim paddles;
Water Gear Aqua Flex Paddles have adjustable fan blades on each side which allow the user to vary resistance level in the water. Their innovative design functions to increase resistance in the water for an upper body workout; however, they can also be used for therapeutic purposes. Try swimming freestyle while holding them, or even submerging to your shoulders and clapping with them for a chest workout. These are paddles you can certainly get creative with!
The Finis Freestyler paddles are the only paddles designed specifically for improving your freestyle stroke. The blade on the underside facilitates the improvement of freestyle technique. These paddles glide across the water like miniature surfboards. Getting your elbows up high is important for freestyle swimming, and these paddles were designed to assist with that aspect as well as with maximum elbow extension. The Finis Freestyler paddles also facilitate proper hand position and entry into the water. They are a great choice for anyone looking to improve and gain confidence in their freestyle technique. They also come in a Jr. Size for young swimmers.
The strapless Finis Agility paddles are designed to improve responsiveness and dexterity in the water. One of the only strapless hand paddles, the Agility Paddles promote proper vertical arm entry. (If your arm-stroke entry is poor, you will know immediately because the paddles will slip off.) These paddles aid in improving most swim strokes, including the backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and butterfly. Their scoop design fits naturally around your hands and a portion of your forearms, helping you to keep your forearms in a vertical position while swimming. Their design also facilitates comfort and easy use in the water.
The original Han’s paddles are thought to be the most versatile paddles available. They offer multiple hand position options in order to vary results. There are two positions for the freestyle crawl motion, two for general training and one for backstroke drills. These paddles are designed with small holes to enhance the swimmer’s perception of the water on his or her hands, thus increasing awareness and improving stroke technique. The paddles can be reversed on your hands for stroke adjustment and to vary the stimulus. These paddles are truly multitalented.
If you are looking to change up your water exercise routine, Water Gear Aqua Flex paddles are a great way to go. For freestyle swimmers, try the Finis Freestyler paddles. To improve overall stroke technique for a variety of swim styles, try the Finis Agility paddles, and Han’s paddles are a great choice if you are looking to increase your awareness and agility in the water. Whether you are looking to improve stroke technique or simply to get a better workout in the water, swim paddles are a great choice for varying resistance and increasing your own kinesthetic awareness.
Paddles may also be harmful if an athlete has upper body injury issues such as the shoulder or elbow. Pulling a pair of paddles through the water may put extra stress on these areas creating more pain or break down of the area. It is important to note that in most cases the paddles are not the issue in the injury. Usually, it is due to a muscular imbalance and paddles are just exposing it.
When an athlete becomes more experienced in swimming the paddles can then become useful. Stronger swimmers tend to have technique pretty figured out and gains in speed will come more from fitness. Paddles then become useful as they can develop more strength and power by using them.
When choosing a pair of paddles choose a small pair about the same size as your hand. The paddle should also have some holes in them to help you still feel the water. Finding a pair, where one or two of your fingers are the only thing that is strapped to the paddle, are also useful. These types of paddles will make you keep good technique, because if your hand goes on an angle the paddle will flip off. From there, you can build your way up to bigger paddles if you desire.
Paddles do have their place but it is important to develop good technique first. Once the technique is mastered, paddles can aid one to get faster. Progress slowly to avoid any injuries. As the saying goes, go slow to go fast.