Ready to throw down on a new swimmer’s snorkel? Here are reviews of the best swim snorkels for lap swimming.
The swim snorkel has become one of the most popular pieces of swimming gear on deck over the last decade or so, and with good reason.
It’s an awesome tool for balancing out your swim stroke, address muscle imbalances, improve head position, doing kick without a kickboard, and can even alleviate neck and trap pain from turning your head over and over to breathe.
The swim snorkel, like any other tool, from fins, to paddles, to your trusty old pull buoy can help you improve and work on an almost endless number of things in the water.
Great. Grand. Wonderful.
But which snorkel is right for you?
Here’s a breakdown of the top snorkels for swimmers.
1. FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel
⭐ Best overall swimmer’s snorkel for laps
The classic. The O.G. The FINIS Original Swimmer’s Snorkel.
FINIS co-founders John Mix and Olympic butterfly champion Pablo Morales developed the first center-mounted snorkel for swimming laps back in 1994. It would take some time for them to catch on, but once they did, they did so with gusto.
Nowadays, the swimming snorkel use has exploded among competitive and even recreational swimmers.
The FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel is the original, and is still the most popular of the bunch, and hence why it ranks at the top of the list of best swim snorkels.
The swimmers snorkel has a one-way purge valve to quickly rid water from the snorkel, an adjustable head strap, and the bracket can be moved up and down the tube for a proper fit.
They are available in the customary FINIS-yellow as well as in pink.
2. FINIS Freestyle Snorkel
⭐ Best snorkel for improving freestyle technique
In the same way that FINIS developed a set of swim paddles designed specifically for freestylers, they have also produced a snorkel that is meant for the freestyle enthusiast.
The FINIS Freestyle Snorkel takes the FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel and wraps the top half of the tube around the back of your head so that the top of the tube faces back behind you instead of straight up.
The main reason I like this swim snorkel is that it encourages you to swim with better body position while doing freestyle. Because of the curvature of the snorkel, if you pick up your head while swimming, the top of the tube will dip into the water behind you.
The FINIS Freestyle Snorkel helps you keep your head down, neck and spine straight, and improves overall body position in the water. A great choice for the freestyle swimmer trying to break the habit of snow-plowing the water with their forehead when swimming.
3. Speedo Bullethead Swimming Snorkel
Speedo was a little late to the swimming snorkel game, but the Bullethead is an excellent snorkel in its own right.
It has a minimalist design that reduces drag and friction in the water (the slim profile also means that it doesn’t wobble like some thicker snorkels). A consistent fit is made possible by notches on the tube (so you don’t lose track of the head strap bracket position). And the headband is padded so that the bracket isn’t digging into your head during extended use.
I really like the bright colors of the Speedo Bullet Head Swim Training Snorkel, along with the silicone head strap that ensures a comfortable and slip-free fit every time you slip it on.
The head strap is also thicker than the other snorkels on this list, which gives you a feeling of greater stability when hitting faster speeds in the water.
Available in five different colors and color combinations, the Speedo Snorkel is fast, looks great, and is comfortable for those long main sets at the pool.
4. FINIS Stability Swimmer’s Snorkel
⭐ Best snorkel for competitive swimmers who like to go fast
The FINIS Stability Swimmer’s Snorkel takes all of the things that I love about the original snorkel and adds a couple of key, game-changing features.
First, it has a swiveling mouthpiece that makes it easy to turn so that you can breathe with your full mouth between reps in the pool.
This allows you to communicate more easily with your coach (“I’m going as fast as I can!”). The swiveling mouthpiece means you don’t have to twist the whole snorkel to gulp down more air.
A simple but highly functional feature!
The FINIS Stability Swimmer’s Snorkel also has a smaller head bracket.
Compared to the FINIS Original Swim Snorkel, and most of the other snorkels on this list, the Stability Snorkel has a smaller head bracket, with strap adjustment being made at the back of the snorkel (like swim goggles).
This makes for fewer moving pieces and longer durability.
And finally, the dual head straps allow for a more stable snorkel position and less wobbling when swimming at high speeds. Put on fins and paddles and hit those blistering speeds with this thing on. It’s made for it.
The main downside of the FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel is that your head feels “busy” with the dual straps and your swim goggle straps.
5. FINIS Junior Swimmer’s Snorkel
⭐ Best junior swim snorkel
Yup—another snorkel by the folks at FINIS!
This snorkel, an excellent swim snorkel for beginners, is designed specifically for junior swimmers.
The FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel Junior has all of the same performance features of the regular snorkel, with an easily adjustable head strap, one-way purge valve for easily getting water out of the tube, and the center-mount design that is perfect for swimming laps.
The tube on the Jr model is two-inches shorter, which means that swimmers have to “push” less with their lungs to purge the tube, and makes it a better choice for smaller swimmers with smaller lungs.
FINIS recommends the Jr version of their swimmers snorkel for kids 12-and-under.
+ Best swim snorkel for junior swimmers
+ Snorkel tube is 2" shorter than the Classic Swimmer's Snorkel
6. Arena Swim Snorkel
Ever tried having a conversation with your coach during a set while wearing a snorkel? Basically unpossible, right?
The Arena Swim Snorkel, which carries a lot of the same features of the FINIS snorkel, from the silicone mouthpiece and bottom purge valve, and adds a neat little feature that allows you to quickly move the mouthpiece from your breathing hole to yell out results and stroke counts back at your coach.
The rotatable headpiece smoothly turns, allowing you to talk to your coach, your lane-mates, or simply mutter under your breath at the bulkhead. I also found that the head strap was a little more durable than the FINIS Original.
The Arena Swim Snorkel comes in black, hot pink, and blue.
7. TYR Ultralite 2.0 Snorkel
⭐ Best swim snorkel for building lung strength
As the name would suggest, the TYR Ultralite 2.0 snorkel’s distinctive feature is its weight—or rather, its lack of it. At just 175g, it’s a featherweight, which comes in handy when having to stuff your mesh bag on the way to practice.
The mouthpiece is made of a soft silicone (helpful for those long swims to avoid jaw fatigue from biting down on the mouthpiece), a hydrodynamic tube and a distinct boomerang shape.
The head strap is tightened on the back of your head, unlike the other snorkels on this list whose straps are adjusted where the headpiece meets the snorkel tube.
The best part about the Ultralite 2.0 is that it comes with two additional tube caps that restrict airflow into the tube.
The caps essentially make your lungs work harder to inhale and exhale, like weight lifting for your lungs. (This type of training is obviously for more experienced swimmers.)
The TYR Ultralite 2.0 is available in black as well as in pink.
How do you choose a snorkel for swimming?
The swim snorkel is one of my favorite all-time tools for getting faster and more efficient in the water.
They come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. They also have varying features, including purge valves, spot size, and a whole bunch more.
Suddenly, shopping for this simple-looking tool can get overwhelming.
Here are the key things to look out for when picking up your next snorkel for swimming laps.
✅ Head straps.
Straps are your best friend for keeping the snorkel in place when swimming. A wobbly swim snorkel is a pain in the chlorinated butt, and the last thing you want to do mid-length while you are crushing a swim practice is having to stop and straighten the snorkel.
Head straps come in a variety of forms. There is a single strap that breaks off into two at the back of the head to give the snorkel more “grip” on your head. Some snorkels now have two straps (like the FINIS Stability Snorkel). And others have one adjustable strap.
Head straps keep the snorkel stable while you are swimming, so make sure to choose a swim snorkel with a strap that will keep it in place.
✅ Head padding.
I’ve long been a fan of doing extended, unbroken swims with a snorkel on. There’s something meditative about staring at the bottom of the pool for long stretches of time.
But after these swims, I found that my forehead was sore from the headpiece. Most snorkel makers have updated their swim snorkels to add padding to the headpiece.
Snorkels are great tools, but they are even better when they can be worn comfortably.
✅ Snorkel tube shape.
The shape of the tube is another key thing to think about when trying to find the right swimmer’s snorkel for you. A majority of snorkels have a slight bend backwards in the tube to keep water from entering the tube.
The FINIS Freestyler has a more bent tube that frees up more room to perform a flipturn without the snorkel crashing into your legs.
If you plan on swimming in open water, look for a tube that has a straighter construction, giving you more clearance and decreasing the odds an errant wave will tumble down the purge valve and tube.
✅ Colors and price.
Lastly, there are the other factors of cost and price. Cost-wise, swim snorkels range in the $30-40 range, with the specialized snorkels costing a little more.
Colors are a choice of preference and style, but a brighter swim snorkel can be a safety win. For swimmers who like to take their snorkel to the lake or ocean, a brightly colored swim snorkel can help increase their visibility on the open water.
What are the benefits of swimming with a snorkel?
There are a metric butt-ton of reasons that strapping a snorkel to your face is certified free-range awesome for you:
⭐ It helps you balance out your stroke. One of the leading causes of swimmer’s shoulder is muscle imbalances brought on by breathing to a dominant side in the water, which encourages uneven muscle development in the back, shoulders, and arms. By wearing a snorkel you put your face down, and free of the whole “breathing” thing can focus on swimming with a more even pulling motion.
⭐ Useful for those with sore traps. At the end of a long week, or after a heavy lifting session in the gym, I will encourage more snorkel use as it allows you to swim with a more relaxed head position, lessening neck and trap muscle demands. The snorkel can help you extend your swim practices in this way.
⭐ Teaches better head position. We all know or have been the snow-plow swimmer—the swimmer who goes up and down the pool with their forehead dry, looking ahead for the wall. Not only does this cause a heap of frontal drag in your stroke, but picking your head up ends up causing your hips to sink. Swimming with a snorkel won’t completely remove the safety twitch to want to see where we are swimming, but it will encourage a better head position.
How to use a swimming snorkel
Snorkels can be intimidating for someone new to swimming with one.
I know I was the first time I pulled a snorkel out of my swim bag at the pool.
Being face down in the water is a decidedly unnatural thing for humans to do, but once you get comfortable breathing through the mouthpiece and tube, you can start graduating to longer use and even doing flip turns with them.
The key to mastering the flip turn with a snorkel on—which I will freely admit took me quite a while to master—is leaving air in your nose and lungs so that you can keep water out and purge it when you surface.
If you struggle with this, or want to ease into it, consider using a nose clip when swimming.
For starters, do lengths without flip turns to get used to swimming without turning your head to breathe.
For total beginners, here’s how to use a snorkel:
- Place the headpiece in the center of your forehead and make sure the tube is straight.
- Adjust the head straps so that it’s snug but not so tight that it’s going to pop your head like a pimple.
- Close your mouth around the rubber gasket.
- Breathe exclusively through your mouth.
- Your first time to the pool, just put your head facedown in the water and practice breathing through the tube.
Can a swimmer’s snorkel help improve cardio?
Yes, swim snorkels can help you build cardiovascular endurance by strengthening your breathing muscles.
Swimmer’s snorkels have a range of different tube widths. A narrower tube width means your lungs have to work harder to push air in and out of the tube.
The effects are similar to wearing a training mask while doing dryland or land-based cardio.
FINIS also offers a cardio cap that you can add to their Jr and regular swim snorkels that narrows the tube width by 40%, encouraging you to really work your pulmonary muscles. (They are only around $6 over at Amazon.)
Why do some pools not allow swimmer’s snorkels?
While snorkels have a ton of benefits for swimmers of all ages, there is a safety concern in that it restricts your ability to see forward.
Between the straighter head position that a snorkel encourages and the headpiece and mount blocking forward view, snorkels do cut down on vision.
In the name of bubble-wrapping society, err, safety, some pools have decided that this makes them unsafe for open lap swim sessions where there might be lots of users in a lane.
It’s always worth checking with your local swimming pool to make sure snorkels are okay to use at your next lap swim.
How do I make my swimmer’s snorkel last?
In terms of maintenance, there are two things that you will need to be aware of when using your snorkel.
First is that you should be washing your snorkel every so often. Mold will accumulate in the tube and in the mouth-piece. (Fun fact: you can do this easily by throwing it in the dishwasher.)
Secondly, the snaps on the headpiece will snap on you. Sometimes it’s after a couple months, sometimes after a year or so, but inevitably the snap that tightens or loosens the head strap has broken on every snorkel I’ve ever owned. I’ve “solved” this by simply tying the snorkel’s plastic strap once I’ve settled on a tightness I am happy with.
Where is the best place to buy swimmer’s snorkels?
Most local swim shops feature a decent selection of swimming snorkels.
Swim Outlet has the largest collection of swimming snorkels online. They also support a lot of competitive swimming teams and organizations and are competitive in pricing with other big online retailers.
View Swim Outlet’s full collection of swim snorkels by clicking here.
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