What Are the Benefits of a Swim Snorkel?

child swimming underwater in pool
A young girl swims with a snorkel in a pool. (Image: FtLaudGirl/iStock/Getty Images)

Whether you are a fitness swimmer, an amateur triathlete, or an Olympic-caliber swimmer, swimming part of your workouts with a snorkel can benefit your stroke technique and body position. Your swimming performance depends on coordination of your arm strokes, rotation of your core, efficient side breathing and a relaxed flutter kick. A swim-specific snorkel -- such as the Finis Swimmer’s Snorkel -- allows you to focus on correct body position, core rotation through the swim stroke, relaxed arm strokes and a consistent kick by removing the side-breathing element of swimming.

Body Position

Many swimmers tend to swim with their eyes focused on the opposite pool wall rather than at the bottom of the pool. This tends to cause your hips and legs to drop below the surface of the water, which increases drag as you swim through the water. Other swimmers look too far down, which also increases drag because their bodies are completely submerged below the surface. A swim-specific snorkel, mounted in the front of your face, will help you focus on maintaining your head position on the surface of the water, with your eyes focused a few inches in front of you on the pool bottom. If your head is too high up or too far down, you will get water in your snorkel.

Core Rotation

Many swimmers have a tendency to turn their head along with their core, which you should do only if you are turning your whole body to breathe. Since the snorkel removes the side breathing component, wearing it allows you to focus on core rotation while keeping your head still and your eyes focused on one spot underwater. If you do move your head too far back and forth, you will feel the snorkel move with you and you might even get water in it.

Arm Strokes

An efficient arm stroke includes a powerful, 90-degree arm catch through the water, relaxed arm carriage above the water and keeping one arm out in front of you all the time. The snorkel helps you practice stroke drills that zero in on each of these elements and eliminate your need to side breathe. Side breathing can directly alter your stroke by altering your body position. It also can indirectly cause you to lose arm efficiency by increasing your fatigue. Wearing the snorkel allows you to do arm drills, such as catch-up freestyle swimming, while maintaining your body position and core rotation mentioned earlier.

Kicking

A consistent flutter kick, with your ankles relaxed and your heels just breaking the surface of the water, reinforces your core rotation and propels your body forward; however, side breathing can lead to arrhythmic kick in many swimmers, impairing their ability to rotate their core and causing them to tire faster. Swimming with a snorkel allows you to focus on a consistent kick without having to adjust for breathing. When you do take off the snorkel and swim normally, you will be better able to incorporate a consistent, efficient kick.

Considerations

Although a snorkel can help you improve swimming technique, you should include swimming without the snorkel to practice the side breathing element in conjunction with your body position, core rotation, arm stroke and kick. Effective side breathing will improve your overall efficiency and endurance in the water, which will help you get through longer workouts and races. You can include snorkel swimming in your warm-up or cool-down, or you can intersperse high-intensity swim sets with relaxed snorkel swimming.

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