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.
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.
🔑 Helps teach you 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.
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
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 swimmers back in 1994. It would take some time for them to catch on, but once they did, they did so with gusto. Nowadays, 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.
They are available in the customary FINIS-yellow as well as in pink.
How to Make Your Swimming 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.
2. FINIS Freestyle Snorkel
In the same way that FINIS developed a set of 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.
It’s like someone took some hair wax and slicked back the original snorkel. The FINIS Freestyle snorkel comes in FINIS-yellow only.
3. MP Michael Phelps Focus Snorkel
With his line of gear–that includes the MP Michael Phelps Xceed goggles he rocked in Rio–the GOAT has broken into the swim gear industry with products that he’s tried and tested (along with his longtime coach Bob Bowman).
The shape of the tube is one of the big benefits of the Focus snorkel—instead of your standard tube-shape it is triangular. Because the edge of the snorkel that rests against your head is flat there is less rolling or sliding back-and-forth of the snorkel while you swim.
The snorkel also wraps tightly around the head, which means it’s also flopping around less when you are swimming at speed or doing flip-turns (something Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman noted was a problem when Phelps used snorkels produced by other swim companies).
The Focus snorkel comes in two different sizes (a regular and a small fit) and a bunch of different colors.
4. 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.
5. TYR Ultralite 2.0 Snorkel
As the name would suggest, the TYR Ultralite 2.0 snorkel’s distinctive feature is it’s 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 TYR Ultralite 2.0 is available in black as well as in pink.
6. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the 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.
Where to buy a swimming snorkel
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.
More Stuff Like This:
3 Sneaky Ways You Can Use Your Snorkel. Here are some different things you can do with your new snorkel in the pool to help supercharge your training.
The 7 Best Goggles for Swimming. Confused about what kind of goggles to get? Here’s a breakdown on the best swimming goggles for fast swimming.
The Best 6 Swim Fins for Swimmers. Looking to get a new set of fins? Here are reviews of the best swim fins available for competitive swimmers.
The 6 Best Swim Paddles for Crushing It in the Pool. Ready to pick up a new set of paddles? Confused about kind to get? Here’s a breakdown of the best paddles for swimmers.