A Guide to Swim Training Aids
Written by Julie Stupp
Julie Stupp is the first athlete in NCAA history to qualify for the NCAA's in both swimming and track & field. She first competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials as a 14-year-old in 2000 and made the final of the 400m IM at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. She is an IM and breaststroke specialist and competed for Auburn University from 2004-2007, where she was an 11-time All-American. She is now an assistant swimming coach at the University of Missouri.
With over 150 different training aids available at SwimOutlet.com, there is bound to be anything and everything you might need to support your swimming in and out of the pool. So how do you sort through these different training aids and products and get the right items for yourself or your team? This guide will break down some of the basics to help you in your selection. Most of these products fall into four different categories, which can help organize your thoughts.
Dryland Training Aids
Dryland training essentially means training on land instead of in the pool. The swimming community has come to find that the term “dryland” is very specific to just swimmers – not too many other athletes use this term. Dryland activities consist of anything a swimmer can do to target and strengthen muscles, balance muscles and cross-train underutilized muscles outside of the pool.
Many of the products that are used as swim training aids fall under the dryland training aids category. You will find a wide array of resistance cords, stretch cords, and even a few vasa swim trainers. All three of these aids are used to mimic specific swimming strokes on the land. They help strengthen swimming muscles, uncover any technical flaws that can’t be seen underwater and they can help prevent injuries by balancing smaller muscles,like those in your shoulders.
There are also plenty of medicine ball options represented in the swim training aids section with a variety of sizes, colors and weights. Working with medicine balls is an excellent way for swimmers of all ages to cross-train. Medicine ball exercises are especially great for strengthening the core and are popular in other sports as well.
The hand weights found in this category can be used in and out of the water to focus on technique and shoulder strengthening exercises. Different workout mats, thera-bands and physio balls are also available. Thera-bands are a great product for balancing and strengthening any major muscle imbalances found in swimmers such as weaknesses in the hips and shoulders. Lastly, physio balls are great for swimmers looking for extra core work and ways to strengthen their glutes, legs and back.
Recovery Training Aids
Becoming a successful swimmer takes a lot of hard work, focus, drive and dedication. A major part of being successful in the pool is being a healthy and limber athlete outside of the pool. Recovery and muscle health is just as important if not more important than any other workout you do. If an athlete cannot train due to injury, they cannot compete to win.
SwimOutlet.com has the recovery training aids you need to stay healthy. Yoga mats, yoga blocks, and yoga straps are all tools to help you cross-train with yoga outside the pool. Yoga is an excellent practice for strengthening a swimmer’s core, hips and back. It forces swimmers to stretch their bodies and relax their minds, all while working on balanced breathing and honing their focus. It’s also excellent for flexibility training.
Trigger point products like massage sticks, foam rollers and massage balls are all self-massage tools to ward off common training pains and injuries after a hard session in the gym or the pool.
Recovery tape is also available and is a great option for athletes looking to help support any weak muscles or injuries. Lastly. pain relief balms and lotions are sold in the recovery training aids section to help tired athletes recover after a hard workout.
In-Water Training Aids
Many in-water swim training aids are used by swimmers to target specific skills, such as technique, speed or power. Parachutes, drag suits and ankle straps are used by more advanced swimmers to create extra resistance in order to work on a swimmer’s power. The added resistance mimics a strength training session while swimming. Once the athlete takes off the resistance tools, they feel much lighter and achieve a feeling of being stronger in the water.
There are also amazing products, such as the tempo trainers and GPS watches, which can help a swimmer measure their own speed. The tempo trainer can be set at any speed to beep every time the swimmer needs to take a stroke. Lastly, the Turnmaster Pro is an innovative product that can allow for a wall to be placed anywhere within a lane. If you have a 50m pool and need to work on more flip turns or want to create two 25m lanes for your team, you can place the Turnmaster Pro in the middle of the lane.
Miscellaneous Swim Training Aids
Just in case you are looking to purchase a pool to start your swim training, SwimOutlet.com has you covered! Don’t worry; there are also some less expensive training aid options, such as a book on swimming instruction, DVDs, a manual lap counter, an aqua jogger bungee rope and a safe swimmer float. Two of the most interesting products are the freestyle breather and the handheld body fat analyzer. The freestyle breather is a simple-yet-effective product that can help teach a novice swimmer how to comfortably breathe to both sides. The product attaches to the swimmer’s goggles and creates an open pocket of air around their nose and mouth by blocking water while the swimmer takes a breath. The handheld body fat analyzer is less than $30 and touts accurate body fat readings for adults and children. The miscellaneous swim training aids section at SwimOutlet.com is truly unique with a huge selection where you’ll likely find something to assist in your training needs and help you improve – not matter what your goal is.