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Swimming with Snorkels

improve swim technique with snorkels

Transform Your Breathing Technique and Stroke Mechanics with Snorkels

What is the single most common disruptor of anyone’s swim technique?
In my opinion, it's incorrect breathing!

A whole load of technique components such as posture, alignment, balance, ability to get into position of high propulsion, etc, are compromised due to incorrect breathing technique in frontcrawl swimming. So? Let’s work hard to perfect the breathing so that those components aren’t affected. It is not so simple and straightforward, is it? 

It might sound counterintuitive to not tackle the “practicing and perfecting” of breathing, first… but unless a swimmer addresses the other "fundamentals" in their stroke mechanics and get those at a “certain level” of proficiency, they will not be equipped enough to allow some improvement of the breathing technique, let alone getting it perfect!

There’s a simple yet incredibly effective tool that could address this “catch twenty-two” situation: the FRONT SNORKEL

The benefits of using a front snorkel are manifold, especially when used correctly, under the guidance of a knowledgeable coach.

Improving Body Position and Alignment -
The front snorkel helps immensely in maintaining proper body position and alignment by eliminating the need to turn your head to breathe. This makes it slightly easier to keep one’s head in a neutral position w.r.t. the spine, which promotes a “straighter body line” that reduces drag. Over time, as the swimmer gets used to this improved alignment it translates to greater speed and efficiency in the water.

Focus on Stroke Technique –
This is my personal favorite reason to use a snorkel. A front snorkel enables you to focus entirely on your stroke technique without the interruption of breathing. This heightened focus allows you to fine-tune elements such as alignment, balance, catch and pull, etc.
With fewer distractions, one can better isolate and correct any flaws in their technique, leading to better proprioception which ultimately leads to better stroke.
From various specialized drills, to kick sets, to sculling… a whole lot of drills and swims could be done with this better focus on technique.

Building Endurance and Lung Capacity -
Endurance is a cornerstone of successful performance, and the front snorkel can be a valuable tool in building this endurance. By allowing you to swim for extended periods without the interruption of breathing, the snorkel helps you push your cardiovascular limits and expand your lung capacity. This is particularly enhanced using specialized snorkel “attachments” which restrict/regulate airflow.

Enhancing Training Variety -
Variety is key to keeping your swim training engaging and effective. Incorporating a front snorkel into your workouts adds a new dimension to your routine, making it easier to break through plateaus and continue making progress. Whether you're focusing on technique drills, endurance sets, or speed work, the front snorkel offers versatility that can adapt to your specific training needs.

Final Thoughts –
The front snorkel IMO is a gateway to unlocking your full potential as a swimmer or a triathlete, by improving your body position, enhancing stroke technique, building endurance, and adding variety to your workouts, the front snorkel empowers you to take your swimming to the next level. As with any new tool or technique, it's important to integrate the front snorkel gradually into your training regimen and seek guidance from a qualified swim coach to maximize its benefits.

From my experience, it takes about three to five sessions in the pool with the front snorkel for the swimmer to be comfortable using one. Some struggle to get it for a bit longer, have seen some mastering it at first go!

I, personally prefer inhalation through the mouth, and exhalation through the nose, even whilst using a snorkel. After trying all means, only as a last resort, do I allow someone to wear a nose clip while using a snorkel.

As long as you’re “tool dependent” and aren’t “tool enslaved” …Embrace this tool as a valuable ally in your journey towards achieving your triathlon goals.

P.S: Remember, there are specialised snorkels for swim training. One should avoid the recreational and “snorkeling” kind. Especially the ones with masks of any kind attached, and/or tubing that goes from the “side”!


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