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View Full Version : Fins, kickboards, pull buoys, etc.--how important?



nhc
November 26th, 2008, 09:53 PM
I don't use these often, and I wonder if one can become a good swimmer without them? I think of folks who grew up near water and are "natural" good swimmers; I'm sure they didn't need these tools to learn swimming? Nothing wrong with using them, but I don't seem to have the patience to use them. Today I just kicked across the pool without kickboard and it felt fine.:agree: Can't we improving the kicks without using the kickboard? Samethoughts about the fins and pull buoys... Am I missing something?

jim thornton
November 26th, 2008, 11:59 PM
I stopped using kickboards a couple years ago when someone pointed out these don't put your body in the right position to kick the way you do when you actually swim. Thus, the theory went, you aren't really training your legs correctly. Now I kick with one arm in front, take a stroke, kick with the other arm in front, etc. I get horrible abuse from my teammates during kicksets, who consider these "strokes" I take a form of cheating, which is probably true. No, wait. It IS true.

The other reason I gave up kickboards is they really hurt my shoulders. I have enough trouble with these without coming up with a torture device to further aggravate things.

Shoulder pain is also the reason I never use paddles anymore. I figure if my shoulders hurt from pulling my tiny hands through the water, quadrupling the effective handsize with plastic is not a good idea.

I like pull buoys because they make swimming easier, which, paradoxically, is the reason I don't use them either. To me, they are really a crutch. I suppose you can use them to really concentrate on your pull, but I just think they make it too easy, and most of the people on our team who use pull buoys eventually overuse them.

Which leaves us with fins. I like fins, zoomers in particular, and use these when my shoulders are really sore--either to do a whole practice kicking, or, when the shoulder pain is receding, as a way of de-weighting my pull (i.e., with zoomers on, I can pull lightly and get the full range of motion in my stroke without having to put too much pressure on the joint.)

Unlike pull buoys, soomers actually make swimming harder and much more tiring, at least for me. You can go faster with them on, but they really tire out your legs, which proportionately have much more muscle mass than the arms.

I probably should use the fins more, but as far as the the other conventional items of paraphernalia go, they just don't seem to be worth the aggravation in shoulder pain.

When it comes down to it, swimming is a fairly equipment-free sport, not that swimming equipment manufacturers are willing to acknowledge this without a fight. When it comes to gizmos, caveat emptor.

Most, in my view, can be summed up the way Voltaire summed up the medical treatments of his day. Voltaire: The art of medicine is distracting the patient till Nature cures the disease.

Similarly, swim gadgets seem to me just a way of adding variety to what is, at root, a fairly grueling struggle to get into peak shape--they are a distraction from the pain and monotony of swimming practice. Nothing wrong with this, but nothing terribly right with it either.

knelson
November 27th, 2008, 12:09 AM
I use lots of toys, but I'm also 100% certain you can swim fast without using toys of any kind.

pwb
November 27th, 2008, 02:55 AM
I don't use any toys these days, though I did grow up training with the full complement. Part of the reason I don't use them these days is that I hate to have to worry about carrying anything more than a swimsuit, goggles and water bottle. However, I am thinking about starting to use some of them selectively after this next taper meet is over.

Things I don't use today and probably won't in the future: kickboards and pull buoys because of the distortion in body position. I agree 100% with Jim's post on these.

Things I don't use today, but am contemplating:


Paddles -- I kind of think these might be useful for me as they might do a better job of building some swim-specific muscle groups that I don't hit exactly right in the gym, but I go MUCH slower with them on and that frustrates me.
Fins -- I've finally begun to kick in my freestyle events this fall (I'm a recovering 2-beat guy) and realize I need to further build up my kick. I've talked with enough folks about fins that they seem like something that could be useful.

One toy I still don't understand the value of: snorkles. What's the rationale behind training with these? I believe it is to focus completely on stroke technique without having to worry about breathing to the side. Where I have problems in maintaining my freestyle catch, though, is when I'm breathing, so I'm not sure how this would help my form. Are there other reasons to use these?

ViveBene
November 27th, 2008, 09:17 AM
My use, or not, of implements is cross-checked with my coach, but I rarely use kickboards -- they do throw the upper body and neck into a horrible position, and one can kick without a board and with arms in streamline and a quick little scull to lift the head and take a breath. I am thinking of getting an ergonomic kickboard for better body position.

I do use fins to try to drill into nervous system what it feels like to move fast through the water, and a pull buoy to focus on stroke and control of body rotation (core strength). I use fins for some kick sets. Not fun, but makes me work harder.

:)

VB

LindsayNB
November 27th, 2008, 09:37 AM
I rationalize my use of toys on two grounds, one, they help me to concentrate on and learn skills that would be difficult to get right in whole stroke swimming, and two, they allow me to practice things more times than I could manage without them.

For example, I can do a lot more fly with fins than I could hope to do without so I can practice doing the right movements and get the components and timing correct and do many repetitions of correct movements until they become automatic.

Fins also allow me to practice more lengths swimming at a faster pace than I could without them.

In theory, if you have difficulty making a good catch and breathing at the same time, if you practice the catch with the snorkel until a good catch is completely automatic then you can add breathing without losing your catch. Sort of like learning to ride a unicycle and learning to juggle before you learn to juggle while riding a unicycle.

That's my theory anyway.

knelson
November 27th, 2008, 01:44 PM
I don't see a lot of people doing this, but one good use for a snorkel would be to kick on your stomach without a board. Then you'd never have to lift your head for a breath, which to me is the major reason I hate kicking without a board on my stomach to begin with.

Also, swimming with a snorkel definitely decreases your oxygen uptake, so it could potentially be used to simulate altitude training. I think to be effective you'd need to do a large percentage of your workout with the snorkel, though.

2fish&1whale
November 27th, 2008, 01:56 PM
I don't see a lot of people doing this, but one good use for a snorkel would be to kick on your stomach without a board. Then you'd never have to lift your head for a breath, which to me is the major reason I hate kicking without a board on my stomach to begin with.

Also, swimming with a snorkel definitely decreases your oxygen uptake, so it could potentially be used to simulate altitude training. I think to be effective you'd need to do a large percentage of your workout with the snorkel, though.
I actually train with a husband and wife that ONLY swim with a snorkel, and they can go at a pretty good clip for 30-45 minutes. I think for any one who has neck or back issues a snorkel is a much better choice than a kickboard.

Allen Stark
November 27th, 2008, 09:26 PM
I have twitchy shoulders and never use kickboards nor pull buoys.For the same reason I often use fins and snorkel to take strain off my shoulders.I also use fins for BR with dolphin kick to do BR without straining my knees(also twitchy.)

LindsayNB
November 27th, 2008, 09:30 PM
Also, swimming with a snorkel definitely decreases your oxygen uptake, so it could potentially be used to simulate altitude training. I think to be effective you'd need to do a large percentage of your workout with the snorkel, though.

Do the physiological adaptations associated with training at altitude require training at altitude or just being at altitude? I.e. would training with a snorkel be the equivalent of spending only the time you are training with it at altitude?

stillwater
November 27th, 2008, 09:45 PM
No toys for me. I used them as a child.

I think about using fins for kicking sets, but then I wouldn't be able to cheat.

I swim with one wag who swears that his fins don't make him any faster. He throws them on on long or difficult sets. He is the main reason why I won't use fins. Silly huh?

Jazz Hands
November 27th, 2008, 10:42 PM
I use fins a lot. I think they develop ankle and foot flexibility more efficiently than swimming or kicking without fins, and they build kicking strength as well. Another reason to use fins is the extra speed, which helps me get a feel for race pace and streamlining. Lately I use fins a lot for freestyle but not butterfly.

I also sometimes do easy kicking with a kickboard to relax/cooldown, just because that's the easiest form of swimming.

I own a big pair of paddles, but I stopped using them because they put too much stress on my shoulders and elbows.

I agree with knelson, though. You can get really fast without any equipment.

knelson
November 27th, 2008, 11:39 PM
I.e. would training with a snorkel be the equivalent of spending only the time you are training with it at altitude?

I would say so, yes. It's really the same thing as hypoxic training. Would just an hour or two of training a day like this stimulate the body to create more red blood cells? It's seems doubtful to me.

aztimm
November 27th, 2008, 11:59 PM
I would say so, yes. It's really the same thing as hypoxic training. Would just an hour or two of training a day like this stimulate the body to create more red blood cells? It's seems doubtful to me.

I've swam in Flagstaff (altitude around 7500 to 8000 feet) a few times, and I don't think there's much you can do to prepare for the change in altitude.

To the toys--yes I do have a gear bag with zoomers, a pull buoy, and paddles. I take it nearly every day, but only use the stuff maybe once or twice a month. Depends on the set is. I try to avoid long pull sets with paddles since so many others on here complain about shoulder problems. None of those for me yet, but don't want to chance it.

nhc
November 28th, 2008, 02:42 PM
Thanks for all your replies. I get some comfort that I'm not the only one that doesn't use much these training aids. Jim's comments make a lot of sense to me. I do enjoy using the fins when I'm tired and want to take a rest by having some easy rides with the fins :D , however I think fins are better suited for Olympic sized pools. Once I used the fins backstroking in a 25m pool, just a few strokes I was at the other end and almost hit someone in front of me.

KaizenSwimmer
November 30th, 2008, 06:17 PM
There was no poll answer option for I never use them, but that would be my answer.

I don't use kickboards or buoys because I think both promote the "Arms Dept - Legs Dept" concept of swimming. I have a deep belief in the benefits of integration and avoid practicing in ways that promote dis-integration.
As for paddles I haven't used them in some 15 years but couldn't swear I might not find a beneficial use for them in the future. I spent five or six years using the "unpaddle" -- Fistgloves -- and found that training enormously valuable in developing far more "touch" and finesse in my stroke. In the beginning, the "fistglove effect" -- the extraordinary way my formerly-ordinary hands felt after using them for 10 to 20 minutes -- would last for 10 minutes or less. Over time the effect would last longer and longer...until it finally became permanent. At that point I stopped using FGs.

If I were to prioritize shorter events (at the moment I think of myself as an open water swimmer) I might use paddles very moderately and carefully to increase recruitment of motor units. But for several years I've been trying to reduce the pressure in my armstroke and I'm still seeing improvements and benefits (mainly my ability to maintain upper arm rotation throughout the stroke and a shifting of load from arms to core) from that emphasis, so I'm not contemplating paddles at this time.

The Fortress
November 30th, 2008, 06:38 PM
I use fins a lot. I think they develop ankle and foot flexibility more efficiently than swimming or kicking without fins, and they build kicking strength as well. Another reason to use fins is the extra speed, which helps me get a feel for race pace and streamlining. Lately I use fins a lot for freestyle but not butterfly.

I own a big pair of paddles, but I stopped using them because they put too much stress on my shoulders and elbows.

I agree with knelson, though. You can get really fast without any equipment.

This pretty much sums up my view. except that I do fly with fins.

I use kickboards infrequently, but sometimes they're a nice change of pace. I use them for flutter kicking mostly.

nhc
November 30th, 2008, 09:57 PM
There was no poll answer option for I never use them, but that would be my answer.

I don't use kickboards or buoys because I think both promote the "Arms Dept - Legs Dept" concept of swimming. I have a deep belief in the benefits of integration and avoid practicing in ways that promote dis-integration.

I tried to simplify the poll, so in the options "rarely" was meant to include "never" :).

I absolutely agree with you on the importance of integration. I think the most efficient way to swim any style is to be found in the perfect coordination of all parts of the body, including arms, legs, hips, shoulders and head. When all are in their right positions at any given moment, especially during the propulsion phase, you feel like flying on the water with little effort.