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Jessica Shaw

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01 Feb 2017
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Fitness blogger and writer. Working out is quite literally my job and life.

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Published on: 16 Feb 2017 by jshaw

How Swim Paddles Will Help You Be a Better Swimmer

For swimmers there are fewer things they
like hearing more than “paddles and fins!” The reasons are simple, it’s a break
from the monotonous nature of most swim workouts, that can last up to two hours
and cover nearly 7,000m per session, and of course, wearing paddles and fins is
simply fun.

After all, you get to go a whole lot faster
than you normally would.

Here are some best reasons that swim paddles
will help you become a faster swimmer.

They help improve your feel for the water.
As swimmers we are always seeking to improve the way we move through the water.
The goal, along with increased conditioning, is to be able to swim more
efficiently. This results in being able to swim quicker with less energy. Mixing
up paddle use with regular swimming has the curious side-effect of infecting
your swimming with incerased efficiency.

With the strap removed they can become an
exceptional teaching aid. One of the biggest reasons to use paddles, in my
opinion at least, is that it reinforces a better catch during the beginning of
the pulling motion. With the added surface area you get a better sense of how
important it is to get your forearm vertical as quickly as possible when
swimming. Removing the wrist strap helps with this, and also teaches you a much
better hand entry—after all, if your hand doesn’t enter properly the paddle
will twist and come off. There is no more visceral demonstration of a bad hand
entry than a paddle that comes off.

Good for breaking up long pull sets. As a
reformed distance swimmer our coach would prescribe us long, dull pulling sets
frequently. And one of the ways that he would break them up and add some
stimulation was to add periodic paddle use during the set.

Power development. One of the most cited
reasons for paddle usage is that it is resistance training in the water. It’s
about as sport-specific as it gets, adding load to the movement patterns that
you want to strengthen and power up.

How
to Make the Most of Your Swim Paddles

Of course, with any training aid you should
be introducing it slowly and using it in moderation. If you are leaning on
paddles in order to make a faster interval than you are probably not using it
for the right reason. Another note—if your shoulders are injured, or they are
beginning to ache (the bad ache, not the good ache), than you should back off
of their use.

Similarly, when choosing a pair of swim
paddles to wear down to your next swim workout make sure that you size them
correctly. The instinct is always to go for the absolute biggest pair of
paddles you can find, which is understandable—the bigger the paddle, the more
surface area, and conceivably the faster you can go.

But over-sized paddles create a couple
different problems. It creates an inordinate amount of strain on the ligaments
and tendons in your arms and shoulders, while also causing your stroke tempo to
plummet. For sprinters this particularly problematic.

Pick yourself out a pair of paddles that
are about 10% larger than your hands. This will give you a good balance of
strength development, added speed, and allow you to wear for extended periods
of time without crushing your shoulders. Happy swimming!

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