1. Without question, the single best piece of training equipment is the swim snorkel.
In freestyle, it allows you to maintain a constant, neutral head position by eliminating the need to breathe to the side. It’s an essential piece of gear if you want to focus on body rotation and to practice swim drills without interruptions for air.
2. Fins are a close second. These are great for building leg and core strength.
But they’re also essential for technique work across strokes by providing propulsive forces needed to mimic proper body positioning.
Again, there are many, many different styles. I’ve been a set from TYR for years and have had no issues. So add a pair to your wish list this year.
3. Paddles make the cut because, when used properly, they can accentuate your feel for the water and also build strength. Be careful not to use them as a crutch, however, because – like a pull buoy – they can mask errors and create false sense of speed.
Nonetheless, I think a set can be a great addition. I’ve been using Strokemaker paddles for a long time and love them. Basic, timeless design.
Notice that none of these training aids are flotation devices, like a pull buoy or kick board. There’s a reason for that, but more of my resistance to those later.
For now, consider adding first, a snorkel, and then perhaps one or both of the other two pieces of gear to your swim bag.
I’ll have more tips to come on how to make the most of them.