Learn to Love the Snorkel
Q. I've seen the snorkel, I've bought a snorkel, but I clearly have no idea why or how to use a snorkel because I seem to be just drinking the pool or getting water up my nose. Seriously, what's the point?
A. I’m not a fan of many of the swim ‘toys’ out there. There have been countless iterations of paddles and fins that swimmers eat up as the next best way to improve. Even simple kick boards and pull buoys have dozens of different ‘optimized’ designs! It’s slightly crazy and can lead to an overflowing swim bag and an empty wallet.
That being said, one piece of equipment that I wholeheartedly recommend is the front mounted snorkel. Learning how to utilize the snorkel and swim comfortably with it on can be one of the quickest ways to improve your efficiency and speed. If you can swim at full speed with proper form while wearing a snorkel, you’re on the road to some great swimming. The problem is the steep feedback loop that the snorkel provides can be hard to accept. First time users usually end up nearly drowning as they claim that the snorkel ‘won’t work for them’.
In reality, once you learn to breathe through your mouth (nose plugs can help with this), the snorkel opens up tremendous training opportunities. Kicking and drilling on your side without needing to turn your head to breath is invaluable. Maintaining symmetry while swimming long tempo efforts can help eliminate shoulder issues caused by incorrect mechanics. The slightly restricted opening of the snorkel also provides a bit of lung training with higher intensity swims. Strap on a pull buoy and snorkel and float for 5 min face down after a workout and you’ll feel like a million bucks. The list goes on and on but the first step is to stop worrying and love the snorkel.
Most swimmers are willing to spend countless hours training and pushing themselves for a few extra seconds of speed. Somehow, they are okay beating their heads against the wall, but are unwilling to utilize a very valuable tool available to them. It may take a bit of practice, but the result will be worth the investment. As I like to tell my athletes: don’t try to go through the wall if it only takes a few extra steps to go around!
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