I recently had the great pleasure of meeting the crew at the FINIS HQ and testing out their gear. I knew they were innovative, but it didn’t hit me exactly how revolutionary their equipment is until I started using it in my daily pool workouts. When they asked me if I would contribute my thoughts and insight to readers, I jumped at the chance. My only conundrum was deciding which piece to talk about first!
Fortunately, something happened before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, in my case). I was watching my 13 year old grandson’s swim practice when I noticed him using the Swimmer’s Snorkel. I had the same snorkel waiting back home for me, yet I hadn’t yet given it a go. I quickly remedied that and instantly the light bulb went off in my head. This is the piece of equipment that is a must for *any* swimmer to instantly boost their pool workouts no matter their age or ability! That might surprise some of the experienced swimmers reading this. In fact, before I incorporated it into my own routine I would never have imagined that I would love it so much! That’s because most of us haven’t leveraged a snorkel to boost our output in the pool before. Our loss… until now. The Swimmer’s Snorkel has earned a permanent spot in my swim bag, and here’s why:
1- Work on the Fundamentals
It’s no secret- perfecting one’s stroke and placement in the water takes years of practice, coaching and dedication. That said, little is more exacerbating to us technique-junkies than watching someone struggle through a set with poor form knowing that some tweaks here and there would have made for a much more productive workout (and a happier swimmer). As an Olympic swimmer, I’m often asked to help people with their stroke and I see how difficult it is for swimmers (particularly those that aren’t coached or aren’t in the water every day) to pay careful attention to their form when they’re struggling with their breathing. The Swimmer’s Snorkel is one of the fundamental tools that frees you up from improper breathing so that you can concentrate on stroke technique. That’s not to say that the snorkel is only for novice or occasional swimmers. Though experience does have its advantages in the water, it’s easy for any of us to fall back on poor form (especially so when we’re in the midst of a long set in the middle of a busy week). Thanks to streamlining techniques that competitive swimmers utilize today (like barely turning our heads to breathe), the snorkel allows us to work on our placement and rotation effectively while keeping our head low. I’ve also enjoyed the effect it’s had on my arm placement, allowing me to reach out and get a nice pullthrough.
2- Small Pools Never Looked So Good
My busy routine sees me on the road more often than at home some months and that means… (dun, dun, dun dun) hotel pools. Maybe you’re also swimming in little more than glorified (and cold) jacuzzis or unaccommodating pools (kidney bean shape, anyone?). If so, you’ve probably grown accustomed to a stationery hip tether to get those laps in regardless of the shape and size of pool. The downside to tether swimming is that it lays us low so we take in lots of water. At best, this is a nuisance on our digestive system but at worse it can be quite serious if enough water is swallowed. Using my Swimmer’s Snorkel, I no longer have to worry about taking in any unwanted, chlorinated, hotel pool water while tethering… and that’s cause for a minor celebration on my part!
3- Channel Your Inner-Altitude Athlete
This may sound counter-intuitive, but training with the Swimmer’s Snorkel reminds me of training at altitude- aka hypoxic training. You may have experience with altitude training yourself or you might be familiar with it courtesy of Michael Phelps who notoriously slept in an oxygen chamber that mimicked extreme altitude leading up to the London Games. Good news for all of us going about our routines the old fashioned way: putting on a FINIS snorkel forces you to take in much smaller amounts of air through your mouth, much the same way world-class athletes train at altitude. With my Swimmer’s Snorkel on, I’m always conscious of my breathing but I don’t have to struggle with it.
4- The Beauty is in the Fun
Ever want to know what it would be like gliding (seemingly) effortlessly across the water? Then grab a FINIS snorkel, some paddles and fins and enjoy the feeling of flying through your laps with a grin on your face! Whether you’re just getting into swimming, coming back to it or an old pro, both the Swimmer’s Snorkel and the Freestyle Snorkel will amp up your routine instantly. I feel re-energized in the water and encouraged to perfect my form again even after swimming for fifty-odd years. My stroke, alignment and rotation has not surprisingly visibly improved and I’m getting a better workout than I have in decades… if it can do this to Olympic athletes, you can bet your bottom dollar it can do it for you, too!
Shards of Wisdom
Like most new-to-you products, a snorkel may (or may not) take some getting used to. Though my husband and grandson put the Swimmer’s Snorkel on and zoomed down the water, I experienced a longer period of adjusting to the mouth-only breathing. The remedy? A handy dandy, cheap-to-boot nose clip (you could go for the rubber band style favored by kids at water parks, but FINIS’ discrete clear clip doesn’t require anything other than your nose and works perfectly). Another thing I had to remind myself when getting started with the snorkel is to keep my head straight down, but this is a great reminder for keeping a nice neutral body position. Lastly, for anyone out there doing fast and forceful flip-turns as is my own habit, the FINIS Freestyle Snorkel may offer greater security as it goes behind your head so that you can really drive off the wall without fear of it falling off. When all’s said and done, the Swimmer’s Snorkel is a superb piece of equipment for swimmers of all ages and abilities for so many reasons. By adding fins and paddles throughout your workout, you can really target the areas you need to work on and get a complete, whole-body workout while fine tuning your body positioning. Stay tuned to see which piece of equipment I have a closer look at next. Until then, have fun with the snorkel!
Wendy Boglioli represented the United States in the 1976 Olympic Games, where she won the only gold medal earned the women’s team that year in the 4 x 100 Freestyle Relay. Wendy now spends her time at speaking events promoting corporate wellness programs, and lately, FINIS products have become a part of her training on the road.