Here at H2O Aquatics, we know how important it is for new swimmers, no matter their age, to feel comfortable and safe in the water as they learn to swim. We also know that swimming isn’t just about knowing the strokes; it’s about practicing the proper form and having the body strength to stay safe in the water! That’s why our instructors use a variety of swim equipment to help new swimmers feel relaxed as they’re learning the basics while also helping advanced, competitive swimmers perfect their form and develop the strength they need to accomplish their swimming goals.
The most common form of swim equipment is a life jacket. Life jackets give new swimmers buoyancy both at their chest and their back, which forces them to stay upright, allowing them to truly experience moving around in the water without fear. Life jackets do not restrict a swimmer’s arms or legs, so new swimmers are able to get a sense of what it’s like to use their limbs to move through the water without the fear of submerging.
Most life jackets have floats inside the lining of the vest that can be removed as a swimmer becomes more self-assured. As the instructor removes floats from the life jacket, the swimmer is forced to work harder to stay afloat, as the life jacket provides less buoyancy. This gives the swimmer a chance to practice using their arms and legs to move around and stay afloat. As swimmers gradually gain enough confidence to phase out of the life jacket, they will also gain the body strength needed to tread water and perform basic swim strokes, such as kicking and front crawl.
Once a swimmer is confident enough to practice their strokes without the support of a life jacket, our H2O Aquatics instructors introduce them to kickboards! Kickboards are the most versatile piece of swimming equipment and H2O Aquatics instructors use them to enhance a wide range of swimming skills.
Kickboards can provide small amounts of buoyancy to certain parts of the body, but moreso, they force swimmers to begin using the skills and strength they’ve already learned. Because swimmers have to grip a kickboard, this piece of equipment isolates only one set of limbs at a time, so swimmers can build strokes in parts. For example, if you’re using your arms to keep yourself afloat on the kickboard, an instructor can work with you on strokes involving your legs, or vice versa. The board provides stability as swimmers learn and practice new strokes bit by bit, helping to boost their confidence. This practice also allows H2O Aquatics instructors to work with swimmers on fine-tuning techniques by directing them to hone in on a certain area of their stroke.
Pull buoys are also a great swim aid for any swimmer who wants to polish and refine their strokes. A pull buoy is a piece of foam shaped like a figure-eight that is placed between the legs in the upper thigh area; this allows the swimmer to stay afloat without having to use their legs. This effectively limits the swimmer’s use of their lower body and forces them to focus on other parts of their swim technique.
When a swimmer is using a pull buoy, H2O Aquatics instructors can more effectively focus their efforts on a student’s arms or breathing technique. Because the pull buoy restricts lower body movement, using it in swim instruction can help build arm and core strength, as the swimmer must rely solely on their upper body to support them.
Kicking can raise both a swimmer’s heart and respiratory rates, so pull buoys are often used when helping swimmers develop breath control. This is due to the fact that the equipment eliminates the need for kicking. Without all that leg work, swimmers are less winded and have more endurance to focus on establishing a breathing pattern and building breath control.
Conversely, flippers help swimmers focus on building leg strength and perfecting their lower body form. Flippers are most commonly used with new swimmers to help them develop the proper kicking motion for front crawl, backstroke, and butterfly.
Flippers can also help swimmers who have a tendency to let their legs sink when they’re swimming by keeping their feet higher in the water. This helps the swimmer to stay in a more streamlined position. H2O Aquatics instructors help swimmers perfect these techniques using flippers because the shape of the flippers forces the swimmer to maintain good form. Flippers can actually help increase ankle flexibility and when swimmers have a greater range of motion in their ankles, they can move through the water more quickly.
Goggles are also a popular form of swim equipment our instructors use. Goggles can increase a swimmer’s comfort and orientation while swimming, encouraging swimmers to submerge and figure out where they are in the water. Goggles, however, are primarily used with swimmers who already know how to swim. Goggles allow swimmers to see underwater more clearly but that can be dangerous for novice swimmers. In emergencies, goggles may not be available, so it is important for swimmers to feel comfortable navigating the water without them instead of becoming reliant on them.
Goggles really come into use as swimmers transition from learning how to swim to becoming a competitive swimmer. Competitive swimmers generally already know the strokes and have the body strength to support themselves in the water. This allows them to use the goggles as an aid without becoming dependent on them. Novice swimmers may be trained using goggles as well, just in moderation.
H2O Aquatics Has Something For Everyone
There is a plethora of swim aids that can be used to help teach swimmers to be more comfortable in the water. Instructors here at H2O Aquatics are dedicated to equipping each swimmer with whatever they need to be the best swimmers possible.
From beginning swimmers just learning to tread water with the help of a life jacket to competitive swimmers perfecting their breath control with pull buoys, we have something here for everyone. We are dedicated to working alongside you to provide the swim equipment that meets your unique swim needs.