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Thread: Contoured paddles vs. Flat paddles

  1. #1
    Participating Member craigbrigantine's Avatar
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    Contoured paddles vs. Flat paddles

    Howdy folks,

    Currently I am using speedo's contoured swim paddles and they work great, but it is time for me to move up to the next size. Is there a difference between these paddles and other "flat" paddles (meaning will one or the other be more effective for training)? Or does it just come down to personal preference?

    Thanks
    It's alright to be crazy, just don't let it drive you nuts.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Why are you using paddles in the first place?

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    Very Active Member gull's Avatar
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    Geek, you have something against orthopedic surgeons?

    I would say use the larger ones if you're really in a hurry to damage your rotator cuff.

  4. #4
    Very Active Member aztimm's Avatar
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    I've had a pair of the TYR Catalyst paddles for years. That doesn't mean I use them everyday, but I have them available for me on deck, if I need/want them.

    I usually only use paddles for either a long-easier set, or if we have a specific pull set. I do see some people using paddles for most sets, and to me that doesn't seem the correct usage of them. I'd estimate I end up using them once every two weeks, usually no more than 1,000 yards in a workout.

    As for the type of paddles, I'd either stop by a swim/sporting goods store and try out a few different sizes/styles, or better yet ask other swimmers at your pool if you can try theirs. I get asked almost once a week if someone can try mine.

    I like these because they have large holes in the middle, so my hands still get a feel for the water. Another plus--they take the regular tubing, can use surgical or landscape tubing if I want. Some of the newer paddles have special straps, once they go you either need a new pair or order those special replacements, at special prices. The tubing usually lasts about 2 years for me and is pretty inexpensive.

  5. #5
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    I firmly believe that all you gain by using paddles is the ability to use paddles. I have yet to see paddles that improve real stroking. I found that after a pull set I had to re-adjust my stroke for the next real set without paddles.

    I used those TYR catalyst as well many years ago. Other than being useful for lacerating lane mates, they were of no value for stroke improvement.

    Triathletes seem to be the primary consumer of paddles.

  6. #6
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    Wrong! I began using paddles after I had shoulder surgery this summer and they've helped me inprove my freestyle stroke tremendously. Because I don't wear the hand (wrist) strap, I am forced to focus on a smooth hand entry and pull, which takes the pressure off my shoulder and engages the proper swimming muscles.

    Sometimes I'll swim part of a set with paddles, and part of the set without them; I always notice that after I use the paddles, I become much more conscious of how my hand enters the water, etc.
    Kari

  7. #7
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Good coaching and proper technique would have done the same thing and you would have avoided the shoulder surgery (provided it was swimming related).

    Why can't you focus on proper hand position and smooth swimming without paddles?

    Paddles are aquatic crutches.

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    Wrong again! Different things work for different people. Our coach has us use them for certain parts of our workout.

    Also, my surgery was not swimming related; it was running related! lol.

    I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk (years ago) and it never really healed correctly, which is one of the reasons I prefer water sports.
    Kari

  9. #9
    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    I see a lot of people using paddles at our pool but I just don't really see a need. Is it to build strength? I also see people swimming sets with fins on. What is up with that? I prefer to train like I race. For better or for worse, that is my decision.

    I'll keep checking back...I'm interested to see what benefits these crutches provide.

  10. #10
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Fishgrrl
    Wrong again!
    What am I wrong about? Just because you like them doesn't mean they are worth a hoot.

    This is what I don't get about paddles. Let's say they do improve stroke technique. At some point you should not need them anymore so why keep on using them? If you have proper technique then using paddles is a sure fire way to put undue stress on your shoulder with no other benefit.

    You say paddles force you to use "proper swimming muscles." If you are only using those muscles when using paddles then you have bad stroke technique when not using paddles, and, by default, paddles are not improving this. You should use proper swimming muscles when swimming all the time and not just when you use the paddles.

    I have yet to see a meet where there is a paddle race.

  11. #11
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    That's why they're called T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G E-Q-U-I-P-M-E-N-T and it flys both ways - just because YOU don't think they're worth a "hoot" doesn't mean that someone else doesn't find them helpful and effective.

    I don't feel any stress on my shoulder when I use them, but I know that some people do, and our coach discourages them from using paddles.
    Kari

  12. #12
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    I agree with Fishgrrl. Paddles have improved my freestyle, primarily the catch. Many years ago my coach "suggested" we take off the wrist strap. And of course, no holding the paddles with your thumb and little finger. With no wrist strap, you have to keep your had in position to have pressure from the water, or it comes off. When it slips, it hurts the finger where the strap is. I made the most improvement when I alternated swims in a set. When I was learning, I'd do odds with paddles and evens without, trying to get the same feel for the water.
    I am coaching now and always tell my swimmers that if you have to hold the paddle on, you are doing it wrong and are risking injury. I think paddles should be diagnostic.

  13. #13
    Very Active Member aztimm's Avatar
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    Originally posted by scyfreestyler
    I see a lot of people using paddles at our pool but I just don't really see a need. Is it to build strength? I also see people swimming sets with fins on. What is up with that? I prefer to train like I race. For better or for worse, that is my decision.
    I swam with another masters group last week, and was surprised at all the 'toys' people had on deck (tough to get in/out of the pool it was so bad). The coach actually had sets where parts were pulling (with paddles), kicking (with fins), and some with both. Since I was just visiting and was lucky to have a suit and goggles (and my hotel towel), I just swam the whole thing, and did some kicking with just arms out front.

    Like I said earlier, at my home pool I have my stuff in a mesh bag on deck, in case I need/want to use it. Even for long kick sets I rarely wear fins; used to all the time and was just not improving my kick. A good coach we recently got on my team has helped me improve my kick tremendously (no fins).

  14. #14
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    So, with the knowledge, directly from your coach, that they encourage or increase the chance of injury and the fact that you acknowledge you only use proper swimming muscles when using your paddles, you chose to use them anyway?

    And, Betsy, why spend all that time learning how to swim with paddles when you could use the time to actually improve your real stroke?

    My daughter had training wheels on her bike but once she learned how to ride we took them off.

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    You purist you! :--)

    I suppose you drink your coffee black and your whisky straight, with no ice....

    I still give props to paddles; they've helped my stroke and I will continue to use them, no matter how much you make fun of them or diss them or whatever. You certainly don't have to use them, as that is your right. But I will continue to use pool toys, as encouraged by our coach: I will use fins, I will use paddles, but you won't catch me with a floater between my legs....

    I cannot argue with you, as you are set against paddles and no matter what anyone tells you, you will not "listen." That's OK by me; that's part of what makes this forum so much fun!
    Kari

  16. #16
    Very Active Member FlyQueen's Avatar
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    Geek, I assume that all four strokes or yours are perfect and will continue to be perfect forever. Paddles serve their purpose and obviously many swimmers like them. There are plenty of elite swimmers that use paddles all the time. They build strength, as well as allow you to feel where you are slipping in the water.

    Since my shoulder problems I haven't put a pair on and won't for another few months. There is also something to be said for any training aid that helps you swim faster. It lets you feel how it is to swim that fast. Closer to race pace swimming.

    Do you ever use fins, paddles, kick boards or pull bouys?

  17. #17
    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    Originally posted by HHowland
    It lets you feel how it is to swim that fast. Closer to race pace swimming.

    Do you ever use fins, paddles, kick boards or pull bouys?
    I swim at or near race pace every couple of workouts, sans crutches. I feel the need to replicate a race pace in a workout with the same extras I have during a race...which is just a Jammer. This way I feel much more at home in a race because I swim this way once or twice a week...no biggie.

    The only extra I ever use in a workout is a kickboard, and that is a rarity. Most of my kicking is done on my back since it is easier on my shoulders.

  18. #18
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    My strokes are far from perfect, I like my coffee with cream and scotch over ice, no whisky.

    But, back to swimming.

    Why not swim at race pace without paddles? So, in a real race you are at a disadvantage cause you only know race pace swimming with paddles.

    I do occasionally use a pull buoy when I'm gassed. I use fins when snorkeling or scuba diving and paddles when digging sand castles with my kids.

  19. #19
    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aztimm
    I swam with another masters group last week, and was surprised at all the 'toys' people had on deck (tough to get in/out of the pool it was so bad). The coach actually had sets where parts were pulling (with paddles), kicking (with fins), and some with both. Since I was just visiting and was lucky to have a suit and goggles (and my hotel towel), I just swam the whole thing, and did some kicking with just arms out front.

    Like I said earlier, at my home pool I have my stuff in a mesh bag on deck, in case I need/want to use it. Even for long kick sets I rarely wear fins; used to all the time and was just not improving my kick. A good coach we recently got on my team has helped me improve my kick tremendously (no fins).
    That is pretty funny...the part about being difficult to get in and out of the pool due to the surplus of crap on deck! Those people probably thought you were some old school swimmer missing out on all of the latest aquatic trickery. If they only knew.....

    I have always avoided fins and pull buoys because I was afraid to become reliant upon them. As I stated above I do use a kickboard when the mood strikes me but I don't make a habit of it.

  20. #20
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    Dear Scotch Drinker:

    But I DO practice at race pace without paddles! I never use paddles on timed sets, which we have at least once a week, because that's when they defeat the purpose. You're right - we don't use them in a real race, so why use them (like that) in practice - I'm totally on the same page with you on that one. However, I also believe that there is a time and place for me to use paddles, and I've benefited tremendously from them.

    I swim with folks who use fins all the time and I know that that can't be helpful, but what are ya gonna say? Take your freakin' fins off? As long as they don't ride my butt, I'm OK with it.

    Anyway...
    Kari

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