A swim cap, goggles, and fins might not be the first things you think about when you hear “swim toys.” But whether you call them swim toys, swimming equipment, or pool gear, there are tools that can help you improve your swimming.
Swimming is a technique-heavy sport. Your speed, efficiency, and confidence in the water are affected by how well you can move in the water. And that comes down to technique. You read that correctly. Technique, not aerobic fitness, can determine how fast you move in the water.
Incorporating gear and swim toys can help you focus on individual aspects of your technique. Paddles are used to improve shoulder strength. Fins can help with ankle flexibility. You can focus on your catch when using a buoy.
However, it might be overwhelming to see fellow swimmers walk with huge bags bursting with swimming equipment. You might be new to swimming or haven’t incorporated gear into your swim sets. What type of gear is best for you, especially if you are swimming regularly in a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa?
This guide of must-have swimming gear and how to use it will help you take your swimming to the next level.
Essential swimming gear for swim spas
There’s myriad tools available to swimmers. It’s important to understand the different pieces of swimming equipment and their uses — whether you are a triathlete, recreational swimmer, or just love using your Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa.
Center swim snorkel
Think of your body as a seesaw. If you lift your head, your feet will drop. And this is especially true in the water. If you lift your head too high while taking a breath or as you generally move through the water, your feet will drop and create drag. Incorporating a center snorkel can help you focus on head position and keep your gaze where it should be — on the bottom of the swim spa floor. You can also balance out your stroke while wearing a snorkel as it eliminates the need to rotate and breathe.
When choosing a swim snorkel, especially for use in a Michael Phelps spa, look for one that does not wrap around your head. You want the top of the snorkel to break the surface of the water. You might also find it easier to swim with a snorkel if you wear a nose clip.
How to use in a swim spa: People who are new to stationary swimming in a swim spa might struggle with body position. Starting your swim session with 5 to 10 minutes of easy freestyle while wearing a snorkel can reinforce good body position.
Do you feel like your swim kick is just … off? Even the best swimmers with the best kicks can only generate so much power with their legs. But a bad kick? It can drag you down. Literally. Wearing swim fins can help you improve your kick.
Swim fins are designed to help better your body position in the water, improve ankle flexibility, and strengthen your legs. It also allows you to make the oh-so-important mind muscle connection to your lower body.
How to use in a swim spa: Kicking drills are a staple of any swim set. You can start a session by kicking with fins as you hold onto the grab bar. Or, put the fins on and swim fast 30-second intervals.
One important element of your stroke is the catch. Your elbow should be high, and you should feel your arm pull through the water. Swimming with paddles can help you work on or reinforce the elements of a strong catch.
When you wear paddles in the water, it will create more resistance and help you get stronger. You might notice that your stroke rate decreases but you’re pulling more water each time. Another benefit of using paddles is that they keep you from stopping short. If you don’t pull all the way through the water, the paddles will fall off.
How to use in a swim spa: Paddles should be used as part of a swim session — not for the entire swim. Consider incorporating several 5-minute sets of swimming with paddles. You might notice that you swim faster with paddles so adjust the speed of the water current appropriately.
Buoys aren’t just for the lake and marking a swim course. Pull buoys help you achieve a more streamline position and focus on other aspects of your stroke — from the catch to the finish. The pull buoy creates buoyancy for your lower body, making it easy to keep your legs and feet at the surface of the water.
How to use in a swim spa: People new to stationary swimming in a Michael Phelps spa might find that the current exaggerates any weakness in swim technique. Using a pull buoy helps you to stay at the top of the water and adjust to swimming against the current. Experienced swimmers can reinforce good elbow position and feel for the water.
While you might not spot swim parkas on the deck of the local pool, it’s an essential piece of swimming equipment for Michael Phelps swim spa users. A swim parka is easy to throw on before or after your swim, and it will help keep you warm as you walk to and from the house.
Why would you need to stay warm before or after your swim? Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas are designed to be used year-round, no matter where you live. You can head out to the stationary swimming pool on a cool morning, whether you live in the desert or in the mountains.
How to use in a swim spa: For the actual getting in the water part, we don’t recommend wearing a swim parka. A well-fitting swimsuit, swim cap, and goggles are recommended.
One of the most important pieces of swimming gear is not something you can buy in the store or online. A good attitude will take you a long way in improving your technique and speed in the water.
But sometimes a good attitude is easier said than done. Fear, comparing ourselves to others, and accepting feedback can get in our way. Shifting your mindset, though, and setting a positive intention at the beginning of a workout can have you adopt a good attitude — and become a more confident swimmer.
How to use in a swim spa: If you are struggling with your mindset and swimming, focus on the things that you can control. Setting the water temperature of the swim spa to avoid the chill can create a sense of comfort. Starting each swim at a gentle pace can make it easier to get in the water.
Plus, in a Michael Phelps swim spa, you only have to worry about you. There’s no one in the lane next to you or the eyes of the lifeguard following you from end to end.
Swimming gear — basics and beyond
Swimming is a popular form of exercise, whether you are looking for a low-impact option or want to train for a triathlon.
No matter your goals, there are some pieces of swimming gear that everyone needs.
Swim gear basics
Swimsuit. Seems like a given, right? However, a properly fitting swimsuit will reduce drag in the water. And it’s more comfortable. Another reason to invest in a good training suit, especially if you are swimming in a swim spa, is that the fibers of street clothing can hold onto detergents. These detergents can cause cloudy spa water.
Goggles. Sighting is an important part of swimming. But opening your eyes underwater can be uncomfortable. A pair of well-fitting goggles makes it easier to swim and maintain good body position.
Silicone swim cap. A well-fitting swim cap will protect your hair from any chemicals in the water, as well as keep any flyaways out of your face.
Ear plugs. Swimmer’s ear is a common problem. If you struggle with discomfort in your ears after a swim, ear plugs can help.
Advanced swimming accessories
Sometimes you want to go beyond the basics. Whether you want a way to complement other swim accessories or want to pass the time, you can level up your gear.
Band. Do you find that your still trying to kick when you are swimming with a pull buoy? You can use a band to keep your feet from moving.
Tempo trainer. How fast do you swim in a swim spa? Your pace can be hard to measure as it’s determined by more than the speed of the Wave XP Pro system. Your body position, catch, and kick can affect your pace. You can use a tempo trainer, though, to keep track of your stroke count. You can set it to hit a certain number of strokes per minute.
Waterproof headphones. It can be monotonous to stare at the black line of a pool or SoftTread of the swim spa for set after set, especially if you have a long workout. You can use underwater music players or headphones to listen to your favorite playlist, podcast, or book. Music has been shown to help you stay motivated during a workout.