The insider’s guide to swim training aids

The insider’s guide to swim training aids

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Want to step your swim training up a notch? It’s time to add a training aid to your swim sessions. From hand paddles to fins, Speedo explains everything you need to know.



Designed to create water resistance, paddles are hand-held paddles worn against the palm of your hand during your training session.

Why add them to your kit? Hand paddles help swimmers become more aware of their hand positioning during freestyle, and also their feel for the water – useful when working on the catch and pull elements of the stroke. They also provide a more challenging workout because of the extra water resistance they create.

How to use: Slide your hand under the two straps; the top strap should hold your middle finger, while the lower strap holds your wrist.

Strokes to try them with:  Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke.

Key benefits of using hand paddles:

Improved arm pull technique

Hand paddles enable you to become more aware of your stroke technique, as the extra resistance makes it easier to gauge whether you’re performing your arm pull correctly.  They also encourage you to keep your elbows high as you work through your stroke, for a faster, more powerful swim. Hand paddles can help you improve your ‘feel’ for the water – a vital part of your swimming technique.

Strength training

Thanks to the increased water resistance they create, hand paddles provide a simple way to step up the intensity of your workout and are particularly useful for strengthening your shoulders, arms and back. Incorporate them into your usual training drills or, for an extra challenging upper body workout, try using power paddles and a pullbuoy together.

Try this: For a challenging upper body drill, perform your freestyle stroke with one arm wearing a hand paddle and the other static by your side. Swap hand positions and repeat.


BUY IT: Speedo Tech Paddle 



A kickboard is a hand-held flotation board that removes the upper body/stroke element of your swim, focusing the effort on your lower body.

Why add it to your kit? By isolating your lower body, a kickboard allows you to use your training session to target your legs, refine your kick technique and perform leg-specific conditioning exercises. The extra demands on your lower body provide a great way to improve leg strength and explosive power.

How to use a kickboard: With your arms stretched over the kickboard, wrap your fingers over the top edge of the board and use your legs to propel yourself through the water.

Strokes to try it with: Freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke.

Key benefits of using a kickboard:

Improved kick technique

A kickboard is a great addition to a kick technique session, allowing you to concentrate on your lower body during training and isolate key components that require improvement. Try focusing on kicking from the hips during freestyle or turning your feet out to get more propulsion during breaststroke.

Strength training

Your legs take the strain when using a kickboard, providing a great opportunity to work your lower body, build strength and work on your endurance. Mix up your kick style and vary your drill pace to work your quads, hamstrings and glutes and improve your speed and endurance. To really up the intensity, include fins in your workout as well.

Try this: For a super-challenging workout, hold your kickboard vertically in the water, rather than on top of it.

BUY IT: Speedo Elite Kickboard





A pullbuoy is a buoyancy aid designed to be held between the legs. It removes the ‘kick’ element of your swim, focusing the effort on your upper body.

Why add it to your kit? By isolating your upper body, a pullbuoy allows you to use your training session to target your arms, refine your arm pull and improve your stroke technique. As the upper body alone is propelling you through the water, this targeted exertion is a great way to build arm strength and stroke power.

How to use a pullbuoy: Place the pullbuoy between your thighs, holding your legs together to keep it in place as you use your arms to propel yourself forward.

Strokes to try it with: Suitable for all disciplines.

Key benefits of using a pullbuoy:

Technique focus

Using a pullbuoy frees up your upper body, including your head, allowing you to concentrate on refining your technique in other areas, such as positioning, stroke, arm pull, hand placement and breathing. Thanks to the buoyancy it provides, it can also help you achieve an efficient, well-aligned body position in the water.

Strength and endurance

By placing the focus on your upper body, the pullbuoy provides an intensive arm and shoulder workout, helping to build strength and explosive power. To help improve your endurance and speed, try varying your stroke style and drill pace. Need a challenge? Get a tougher workout by wearing hand paddles [link] at the same time.

Try this: To give your core a really challenging workout, place the pullbuoy between your ankles instead of your thighs.

BUY IT: Speedo Elite Pullbuoy




Fins have a flipper-like appearance and are worn on the feet during freestyle and backstroke swim training.

Why add them to my kit? Extremely versatile, fins can be worn for drills, kick sets and endurance training to both add speed and increase your propulsive power. As fins create resistance in the water, your leg muscles work harder, which can help build strength. Useful to have to hand for technique sessions, fins provide easy momentum that allows you to focus on your body positioning, breathing and stroke.

How to use fins: Slide your foot inside the fin, holding the heel to help. Tip: wetting your fins slightly can make them easier to get on.

Strokes to try it with: Freestyle, butterfly.

Key benefits of using fins:

Speed and power

Fins add extra propulsion to your kick, increasing your power and speed, which makes them great for honing the underwater kick stage of your swim and for training close to your race pace. They also provide a speed boost for days when you’re tired but need to pick up your pace. For maximum speed, try using fins and hand paddles [link] together.

Ankle flexibility

Because of their increased surface area, fins force you to extend your ankle during the kick, making you more efficient and propulsive, with the added bonus of improving ankle flexibility – a vital part of a good kick, and especially important for triathletes who may experience limited flexibility due to the effects of running and cycling.

Try this: Use fins to practice kicking freestyle on your back. It engages more muscles for a more challenging workout.

BUY IT: Speedo Biofuse Fin


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