My mesh bag now includes the ridiculous total of
five four five (again) different types of paddles!
(Update: I dumped the tech paddles about a year ago).
(Update 2: I added another paddle. Must do another review!.
Warning: overdoing paddle work is a mistake easily made. I was already doing a lot of metres when I increased my paddle work, and I had shoulders able to take that increase, but overdoing paddle work, especially power paddles, can lead to real shoulder injury. Start very, very, very easy, with no more than 200 metres total, if you are not already using paddles.
1. I started years ago with Speedo Tech Paddles, medium size. Tech or technique paddles are designed mainly for aiding water-feel. They are to aid catch, early vertical forearm (EVF), strength and pull. A bit of a Jack-of-all-trades. They were good as first paddles, good to get used to doing extra metres pulling to build up shoulder strength. Instead of putting the whole hand in the straps, one can just use the middle finger so they can also be used as a finger paddle, to detect imbalances in stroke and catch. The rubber straps however haven’t lasted and have had to be replaced by bits of rubber tubing. I never use these any more.
2. My next and main paddles for a few years were Speedo Power Paddles. In 2009, Eilís has us doing a lot of paddle work in Channel training. Early on I was still using the tech paddles and hating them and paddle work in general. After one session with Rob Bohane, where I was killed, I decided to change that, so every day for the next month, I used the Power Paddles for warm-up After that I had no more problems. These are brutal on your shoulders if you are not used to them, injuries will result. You can also lose your feel for the water with these. Note: All the straps on this are only one piece of surgical tubing. When I use these I mostly only use them with the middle finger loop. However I left the rest of the tubing attaching because sometimes if I am using them after 12 or 14k when I’m tired, I want the extra strap.
3. WIN Forearm Paddles. These cost €1.50 from Simplyswim.co.uk quite some time ago so I bought them when I buying something else. Finis ones should be somewhat better, as all their products are. The purpose of these is to work EVF and forearm pull. I often do 400m with these, combined with 400m fist drill or anti-paddles, as part of my warm up.
4. Speedo Finger Paddles. I got these on the recommendation of Jen Schumacher and Nuala Muir-Cochrane. They allow you to focus on your catch and also your pull and vertical forearm. I have also found they are good for lengthening your stroke, as a moderate power paddle and overall keeping good focus throughout most phases of the stroke. They are also great for backstroke catch and technique. I love these, they’ve become my favourite toy. On my last 20k swim I did 3k with power paddles and 5k with the finger paddles. If I was to keep only one swim toy, it would be these. I removed the lower strap as these are purely for technique.
5. Finis PT Cruisers, PT for “perfect technique”. These are also known as Anti-Paddles. Unlike all previous paddles which in some way enhance the arm or hand, these remove the hand completely from your stroke. Therefore they operate the same as fist drill or holding a tennis ball. Your stroke becomes all about EVF and the pull from your forearms. They are also very effective in engaging your core and driving your balance. The first couple of lengths swimming with these is like swimming with a live weasel in each hand. I’ve seen a lighter hollow version somewhere, but these are heavy and solid, which is what drives you to engage your core to counter-balance them. And unlike fist drill, there’s no cheating with these. Your first few lengths after using them will give you a great feeling of power throughout your catch and pull.
So on the face of it, having
five four pairs of paddles seems like overkill. But each performs a specific useful task.
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