Like any athletes, swimmers also need to do weight training. Clearly, swimmers do not use weight training equipment you see in regular gyms. Instead, swimmers use swim paddles or hand paddles and swim fins. Swimmers’ swim paddles are similar to a weight lifter’s dumbbells. These are used to help strengthen the shoulder, increase swimming distance and speed, and help swimmers become more efficient in their strokes.
However, not all swim paddles are created alike. The product’s quality is essential in choosing the best swim paddle (sometimes called hand flippers or swimming hand fins) in the market.
How to Choose Swim Paddles
Swimming hand paddles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and material. Each variety has a specific use that can help a swimmer win his gold medals in the Olympics or just to simply help improve performance. Traditional swim paddles are made out of plastic with a circumference quite larger than your hands. Keep in mind that the bigger the paddle is, the more effort it would take you to make it move through the water.
On the other hand, paddles with holes help the water move freely as you swim. As a basic rule in swimming, a swimmer should at least first start with a swim paddle that is slightly bigger than his or her hand and progress to bigger paddles to help build more resistance. There are also kinds of swim paddles to choose from and these are:
Flat Swim Paddles
Lap swimmers often love this kind of swim paddles. This kind comes in different shapes like triangular, rectangular, or hand-shape. There are options too where either the flat swim paddles contain holes or remain solid.
Ergonomic Swim Paddles
This particular type of swim paddle offers both design and comfort. It has curves that mirror the natural shape of your hands. Ergonomic swim paddles give swimmers the benefit of resistance training without disrupting their technique. This particular type is perfect for beginner lap swimmers or even advanced swimmers.
Specific-Use Swim Paddles
This swim paddle is designed only for single stroke or technique like freestyle-only paddles. Usually, specific-use swim paddles are presented in a triangular shape. These types of paddles are used less likely than the other kinds because of the specific usage it demands. This type is only recommended for advanced swimmers who are supervised by a trainer.
Catch paddles or finger paddles are worn just under the fingertips to help develop the catch of the strokes rather than having the entire underwater pull.
Benefits of Swim Paddles
Now that you know the different kinds of swim paddles, it is best to know what benefits they can give you as a swimmer. A lot can be gained from using swim paddles in your training but here are the best benefits it can give you:
Helps you develop power
In terms of power, as a swimmer, it tends to be specific. Since resistance is added in your swimming, you have to do your strokes precisely in order to gain the development of power that you need and desire. This is why it is best to always get supervised with a trainer.
Helps you increase speed and efficacy
When swimming all-out, swim paddles can make you faster than your usual race pace before training. You can also slowly feel your efficacy from keeping a rigid torso to having an early catch. Using other swimming accessories like nose clips will also aid to make you swim faster.
Makes your training a little less boring
If you are kind of bored with the current and repetitive training routine you have with your coach, adding swim paddles into your training can help you have a fresh start. This can help you gain back your interest in training as well.
Depending on the kind of swim paddles you are using in your training, it lets you engage in early forearm catch. Also, it teaches you what you should and should not do.
It helps you detect mistakes
Since you are using swim paddles, you can detect if you are not pulling correctly in your stroke since using these tools accentuate the pulling motion as you swim. This helps you tune your technique and focus better on your strokes.
Disadvantages of Using Swim Paddles
Despite all the benefits that swim paddles can bring to your training, sometimes it can harbor disadvantages as well. Not can this only help you develop good habits, but it can also make you develop bad habits when not used properly. Here are some of the most common disadvantages that swim paddles bring to unfortunate swimmers:
Strained ligaments and tendons in your arm
If you use the wrong size of paddles, it can cause injury and harm. Over-sized paddles often contribute to this problem, especially when you have weak shoulders or currently having strains in your shoulder muscles.
Can develop bad training habits
Some swimmers tend to get lost in focusing on improving their strokes and focus more on the resistance training. This can affect the form of their stroke by forgetting not to spread their fingers too much and even faulty strokes.
To help you on how to gain the most out from your swim paddles, here are some important tips that may help you.
Starting small does not necessarily mean you start with swim paddles that are smaller than your hands. What is actually recommended is you start with swim paddles that are slightly larger than your hands. You should not jump directly to huge-sized swim paddles because this may cause serious injuries.
Keep a natural finger position
If you tend to spread your fingers too much or unnaturally when pushing through the water, this could mean that your paddle is too big. By keeping a natural position with your fingers it keeps you out from developing bad training habits.
It is best to keep your hand open (mimicking a natural finger position) and allow the flow of the water over your hand. This helps achieve a more natural feeling when you train.
Don’t expect it’s easy
Don’t allow yourself to think that training with swim paddles will be easy. Especially on your first tries of the paddles, it would definitely need hard work from you.
With swim paddles, as long as you use it properly under a trainer, it helps you build strength while improving speed and technique.
Don’t push it too hard
If you are training with swim paddles and you feel pain, don’t push yourself too much to the point of exhaustion. Not everything painful during your training will help you improve. It may lead to unwanted injuries.
Best Swim Paddles in the Market
If you think you are ready to try using swim paddles or simply looking for a replacement of your old product, here’s a list of the top swim paddles in the market today.
1. Speedo Nemesis Contour Paddle
The contoured shape of the Speedo Nemesis helps swimmers have proper hand positions every swim. Tubercles or scalloped outer edges are present in the product to promote the greater surface area.
2. Finis Hand Paddles
The ergonomic shape of the product promotes a natural feel for the swimmers. Finis Hand Paddles come in different hand sizes including swimmers with narrow hands.
3. Strokemaker Swim Paddles
Strokemaker Swim paddle is flexible and designed with holes to improve a swimmer’s feel of the water. The sizes for the product are coded in different colors.
4. Finis Adult Swim Paddles
This particular product helps swimmers have a more balanced body position and prevents drag during training. In addition, Finis Adult Swim Paddles prevent hand crossover that causes shoulder strain or injury.
5. Aqua Sphere Ergoflex
The product’s contour fit mimics natural hand position and can flex to fit in the swimmer’s particular stroke mechanisms. It has wide adjustable straps as well.
6. HEAD Swim Paddle
The swim paddle has a hydrodynamic design for better technique development. The product also has adjustable straps, and the design reduces fatigue.
7. Synergy Swim Paddles
Synergy Swim Paddles have broad blade design for optimal water contact. Straps are adjustable for a better fit.
8. Michael Phelps Hand
The hand paddles are specially designed to mimic the bone structure of the hands for a better and more natural feel. Vents on the paddles give an enhanced feel of the water.
9. Speedo Royal Hand
This product differs from the list since this is a swimming glove. Despite so, the product provides the same function. The product is designed for water resistance training and has webbed fingers and adjustable straps.
10. Odyssey Glove
The product is another swimming glove which has Velcro straps, webbed fingers, and a sharkskin palm.
Swimming paddles are a great addition to your swimming training; may it be for your next competition or just improving your stroke and speed. A lot of seasoned swimmers have sworn to the effectiveness of the swim paddles while they were training. However, it is best to keep in mind to always start with a trainer to prevent bad habits when using swim paddles.
In addition, it would be also great to invest in the best swim paddles in the market so that you don’t have to waste your money on untrusted products. Rather than buying faulty swim paddles you have to replace every time, invest in a good pair.
You may also be interested to check out other swimming tools and accessories like pool float, pool slide, swimming goggles, etc. If you want to be entertained while doing your swimming laps, you can invest in a good mp3 player for swimming, earplug for swimming, as well as swimming fitness tracker. Wearing the recommended tech swimsuit will also help in making you feel comfortable while in the water.
Always remember to work hard on your training, eat right and healthy, and trust yourself— soon enough you will become the best swimmer out there.