So I thought today I would discus Swim Training Aids, or as my Coaches calls them, “Pool Toys” LOl. I will first give a quick overview of the Toys, then get to the real reason for this post.
As I’ve progressed through the phases of Triathlon Swim training, (not drowning to actually loving it) my Coaches have added more and more training aids.
These devices are intended to help to improve your swim stroke in a number of different ways.
Below is a short description:
Kick Board: The kick board is used to focus on the “kick” or how you use your legs. You hold it out in front of you and use your legs to kick to propel you from one end of the pool to the other. It helps to develop strong leg mussels among other things.
Pull Buoy and Strap: A Pull Buoy is typically used in conjunction with an ankle strap. The strap goes around your ankles and then you place the buoy between your legs when you swim. The purposes is to use the buoy as a flotation device to hold your legs from sinking. Not having to concentrate on what your legs are dong, allows you to focus on what your arms are doing. It also builds arm strength.
Fins: Fins are sometimes used with the Kick Board, with other toys, or alone. Fins act as an extension of your feet. When using them, you get a greater sense of what your feet are doing. They allow you to have a better feel of the water. They also build leg muscles, by intensifying the workout.
Core Shorts: These are neoprene shorts that you wear over your swim suite. They do a number of things. Like the Buoy, they help to hold your legs up and they also simulate (to some degree) swimming with a wet suit.
Snorkel: This training aid allows to you to breath, which is kinda important, while working on other things. By eliminating the need to turn your head and breath, you can focus on what your arms are dong, like their entry into the water.
Tech and Hand Paddles: Like fins, paddles give you a better feel of what your hands / arms are dong in the water. Connecting with the water is so important.
OK, now on to the important stuff…
All of the training aids I discussed above are just that, “tools” that we use to improve our swim stroke when training. But, one the outcomes when using many of these tools, is that they tend to make you faster in the water.
As an example, besides what I discussed above, Fins give you greater propulsion though the water and will shave time off your pace. Hand paddles, Core Shorts and some of the other toys will do the same.
So why do I bring this up you ask? Pool Toy Shaming!! Yep, it’s a real thing! I know, I’ve been on the receiving end of it.
I’ve attended group swims with other Triathletes and have had them call me out for using the training aids. I had one person comment, “I see your using “cheater” shorts“, referring to my Core Shorts. I had another person comment, “People only use those things (training aids) to make their swims look better on STRAVA”. I recently wrote a post about STRAVA, click HERE to read it.
At first I let it bother me, so I didn’t use the Toys at group swims, then I talked to my Coaches about it and they helped to understand that this is what Professional Swimmers do! They ALL use Training Aids. My Snorkel was designed my Michael Phelps because he did not like what was able on the market. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube like this one on Core Shorts.
So if this happened to me, I’m sure it’s happened to others. If it happens to you, please try to not let it bother you. Take comfort in knowing that if the professionals in our sport use them, then so can you!
Peer pressure like this and shaming has no place in our sport.
Until next time….