Why Use A Swim Snorkel
A common issue for new swimmers is maintaining body alignment while swimming - at Playtri, this is one of the first things we talk about with new swimmers. While swimming freestyle the body should stay in a straight line, with a little side-to-side rotation to facilitate breathing and arm recovery - the body should also stay near the surface (we like to say the goal is head, hips and heels breaking the water) to avoid creating additional drag. When I first started swimming, every time I took a breath, I lost that alignment (this happens to almost everyone!) - my coach liked to call it "the snake" because my legs were always swinging left to right. Part of the issue was core strength, but even though I did lots of core work it still didn't fix my problem.
I started swimming with a swim snorkel so I could practice maintaining proper body position for long periods of time, without the interruption of the breath. A swim snorkel is different from a regular snorkel because you use it with your regular swim goggles, and the actual snorkel is positioned in front of the face instead of off to the side so that it doesn't interrupt your stroke (it also cuts through the water more easily). We usually have a few different models available at Playtri, but one of our favorites is the Finis Swimmer's Snorkel.
When I first started with the snorkel, I was too focused on going fast to really work on my technique and get the benefit - however, once I slowed down a bit and focused on maintaining the line of my body in the water, my swimming started to become much more efficient. I became aware of when I was maintaining good body position, and when I was losing it - I realized when it was being maintained I got much more forward motion out of each stroke, and was able to stay more relaxed. That efficiency led to faster swim times, and more energy for the bike and run - a win/win!
The swim snorkel also makes it easy to learn new swim drills, and do kick drills with better alignment than when using a board to hold the head out of the water - it's one of our most recommended swim tools at Playtri.
If you are new to using a snorkel, here are a few tips for incorporating it in your swim training:
The first time you use the snorkel, put it on and practice breathing by the wall in the pool with your face in the water - avoid breathing in or out through the nose!
If you have trouble with water getting in your nose (uncommon, but it does happen), get a Nose Clip to solve the problem
Use the snorkel during your warm up to practice feeling good form before you move to regular swimming
If you are a new swimmer, don't be afraid to do most of your training with the snorkel early on - good muscle memory will make adding the breath eventually much easier
Want help fixing your body alignment? Check out Playtri Swim Lessons - DFW and remote options available!
Coach Emeric Arnaud is an experienced triathlete, and did track and cross country at Davis & Elkins where he completed his degree in exercise science. You can contact him at email@example.com.