Every athlete has a list of the latest gear that is sure to make you better, faster, stronger. With the holiday season rapidly approaching, and as we start to dream about our next race season, it's time to refine that list.
You know the stuff you would like to get for your racing and training needs, but it takes time to save up for one purchase and it seems like items get added to the list faster than you can buy them. Well now's your chance to knock off a good chunk in one go. Plus, it will be so much easier for Aunt Mable to buy you a gift if she actually knows what you want. And you may even avoid adding another holiday-themed sweater to your closet in the process.
So what will make you a better, faster, stronger swimmer? To help, I've created a list of my favorite items this year. Everything on my wish list has been tested and evaluated for its efficiency and effectiveness, and will be worth seeing under the Christmas tree.
For anyone that is bored to tears with swims that seem to go on forever, there is the SwimMan Waterproof 3G iPod Shuffle. It is completely self-contained and waterproof and one of the easiest to install on your swim goggles. Just put it on and off you go.
The drag suit for men and women has returned. What an ideal way to help increase your strength, power and endurance during your training sessions. The very nature of the drag suit is to increase water resistance and challenge you to swim faster.
I am partial to the Finis. The two that meet the needs of many of my athletes are the Finis Ultimate Drag Suit with a mesh design and four pockets to impede your speed by exponentially increasing your resistance and the more traditional Drag Suit. It's like swimming in a baggy bathing suit which creates a parachute effect. Keep in mind the purpose and design of the drag suit is to increase resistance to the already highly resistant environment of water. The additional resistance while swimming makes your workouts more challenging and, therefore, helps you to swim more efficiently to compensate.
There are two sets of swim fins that really grabbed my attention this year: the Positive Drive Swim Fins by Titan Swim Tech and the Aqua Sphere Alpha Fins. Both sets of fins are lightweight, easy on the feet and really address the necessary fine-tuning of the swim kick. Whether you are a triathlete or an age-group swimmer looking to improve the technical intricacies of your kick, these may be the fins for you.
The Aqua Sphere advantage is its offset profile allowing for pointed toes, and its blade design which allows for an optimal kicking motion. While the Positive Drive fins claim to fame is the ability to help all four strokes. They do a substantial job of creating a very natural kick motion, they are very light on the feet and they best emulate the perfect kick sequence.
Goggles are about as individualized as they come: different styles, sizes, face comfort, effectiveness and visibility. Plain and simple, do they leak and are they easy to adjust and wear. I don't want to need an engineering degree to wear them. The Sable WaterOptics, whose tag line is "Swear by your goggles – not at them", has done a very good job with the design and function of their goggles. The optical lenses are extremely clear making them perfect for open water swimming or lap swimming at the pool. They cause minimal fogging and have a positive fit so you won't have to deal with leaking goggles. And, we all know how wonderful it feels to not worry about water seeping in.
And, while we are on the subject of water seeping in, I am noticing more and more swimmers and triathletes adopting the nose clip—a very simple and effective device that helps make your swimming experience more positive. Chlorine sensitivity has driven a large population of swimmers to look for the elusive Holy Grail of swim nose clips and I have found the perfect one: the TYR Ergo Swim Clip. This clip fits comfortably, stays in place and, unlike some of the others out there, it doesn't feel like your nostrils are sandwiched in a vice.
Video Stroke Analysis
One of the very best gifts you can give the swimmer in your life is an opportunity for a video stroke analysis. This, in my opinion, is the gift that shows how much you really care. The ability to see your stroke from underwater, and the opportunity to sit with a coach and break down the good, the bad, and yes, sometimes the ugly, is priceless.
The holidays bring an opportunity to give the very best; and, starting the new year is a great time to take the gifts we do have along with the gifts we receive and develop ourselves to become the very best we can be.
What's on your wish list?
Frank Sole is a premier swim coach and tactician with extensive experience coaching high school swim teams, club teams, masters swim programs, and working with all levels of triathletes from beginner right up to Kona qualifiers. Sole enjoys writing about triathlon training, technique development, relationships and the lighter side of triathlon. For more on Frank Sole, go to www.soleswimsolutions.com.
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