Swimming aids can be a valuable asset in any triathlete’s/swimmer’s arsenal, helping you increase efficiency, ensure correct swim mechanics, and improve overall strength and technique. One of the most popular aids used is the swimming paddle, however, it is also one of the most misunderstood.
Correct use of swimming paddles should allow the athlete to swim longer (in terms of distance per stroke) whilst also increasing their pace. By incorporating paddles into your training you should build power and strength in the water, whilst instilling good technique habits. Paddles will accentuate everything about the pulling motion, which will highlight the areas that aren’t working.
For those long, monotonous repeats training sessions, using paddles is an effective method to mixing things up and keeping you fresh mentally. However, paddles must be used correctly and any form of shoulder injury can be exacerbated by larger paddles. Just as paddles encourage good habits; it is also far too easy to develop bad ones when using them. These can include spreading the fingers and a slow pull.
If you have weak shoulders over-sized paddles can put strain on ligaments and tendons in your arms. Think of paddles like weight training: bad, shaky form has the potential for increased injury risk.
Swimming paddles can be incorporated into some of your existing training drills, or you can undertake specific paddle drills. Below is a very basic session using paddles, but there are plenty more example on the internet.
There are a number of different paddles available, which can be found here
Basic Paddle Drill
Warm-up: 250m swim (easy pace)
Main Set: 1×50m with paddles (medium pace)
1×50m without paddles (medium pace)
4×100 pull with pull buoy and paddles (medium pace)
4×50 swim without pull buoy and paddles (medium pace)
Cool-down: 200 easy swimming