Recently the nice people at simplyswim sent me a couple of items of kit to test out. I’ve already reviewed the Pool Mate swim watch, so now it’s the turn of the Speedo Power Paddles.
According to the blurb on the box, these are designed to add speed and power to your stroke on your swim.
Now, I have a lot to work on with my swim – head positioning, breathing, kick, arm entry…it’s a long list, but no-one’s mentioned power before now, so I was curious as to how these would make a difference.
My first task was to put them together. The paddles come in a box with two lengths of rubber tubing that you can thread through the holes in the paddles to make wrist and finger straps.
There are no instructions with the paddles, so I used the picture on the front of the box as a guide and measured up against my own hands. This left me with a lot of tubing left over, so I ended up cutting one piece in half and threading both paddles with this.
Next up was the question of how best to use them. The blurb on the back of the box suggests they’re not the kind of thing you want to use for the whole of a swim session, so I thought I’d incorporate them in my warm up and as part of my technique drills.
I managed to find this video featuring Team GB swim coach Ben Titley and swimmer Liam Tancock to give me a few ideas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvqCa_dhbC8
The paddles they use are slightly different, but the principles should be the same.
So, off to the pool, I went to try them out. After a few warm up lengths, I tried the paddles first with the pull buoy and then without.
You can immediately feel how the paddles strengthen your stroke through the water and pull you along. It’s a good feeling until you get your stroke wrong and then the paddles are really unforgiving. If I dropped my elbow and let my hand flatten as it hit the water, the resistance was enough to completely stop my stroke and even force the paddle off my fingertips. It was a good way of making sure I concentrated on improving my hand entry on every stroke.
I found the tubing stretched a bit in the water, so I tightened up the lacing a bit next time I used them. But the first time, I just wanted to get on with my swim and didn’t want to waste time trying to fix them in the pool.
I could certainly see their value for giving you a good upper body workout and improving your strength through your shoulders and arms. When I took the paddles off to do my main swim set, I really felt the difference in speed and pull through the water.
I’ll carry on using them as part of my warm up and technique drills, but I do think they’re best used in moderation. I’ve built up quite a bit of upper body muscle strength and endurance through weight and resistance training on dry land, so didn’t experience any particular soreness around my back and shoulders, but I could see how this might be an issue for some people.
But for regular swimmers who maybe don’t have as much time for weight training, this could be a good way to add a some pool-based resistance work.
The paddles themselves could be improved if they came with a bit more guidance about how they should fit and how you can use them, with some examples of drills. Even just a web link to more information or the training video I found would be helpful to someone like me who is new to using them.
That makes me think they’re more a tool for a serious swimmer, or someone who benefits from regular coached swims. And if you’re looking to add more upper body strength in the water, then they seem like a winner.
I’m always keen to learn hints and tips to improve my swimming, so even if they just help me nail that hand entry into the water, that’s a good thing. Meanwhile, it’s always fun trying out new swim kit and keeping my training interesting.
simplyswim sent me the Speedo power paddles and just asked if I’d write a review of them, so all opinions are my own. They’re opening a triathlon section on their website soon, so I shall be interested to see what products they feature.