Whether you are shopping for the swimmer in your life or looking to pick yourself up a little something-something (no judgment here), I got ya covered with this little gift guide for swimmers.
All six of the following things are on repeat in my training rotation, so the answer is yes, I actually use and love this stuff.
From gear to training programs to posters here are 6 gift ideas for the competitive swimmer:
Probably my favorite tool that I have added to my swim equipment this year are these genius, and yet super low-tech foot nets created by California-based AquaVolo.
DragSox are exactly as they sound—socks designed to create a sizable amount of drag on your feet.
And why would you want to do that?
For a few different reasons my chlorinated homeslice:
- Develop power in your legs. Kicking is massively important in swimming—for balance in the water, for propulsion, and for your starts and walls. In a short course race underwater kicking can take up to 60% of the race.
- It’s highly swim specific. Unlike doing an endless number of squats, leg extensions and lunges outside of the pool, strapping on a pair of DragSox is as swim-specific as it gets in terms of swimming equipment, especially given that they don’t inhibit range-of-motion like some fins or shoes do. Think of it as resistance training for your kick.
- You’ll feel like a beast when you slip them off. Do them for a set in the middle of your workout, and the next time you push off the wall you will feel like someone attached an outboard to your hips.
- Develop a way faster kick. Swimming with fins or doing kick with a board will never feel the same after you use these bad boys. Not only will your kick feel smoother and more powerful, but it will be faster, and that’s the best gift you can give.
The only downside? Prepare to field regular questions mid-set from curious onlookers in the next lane.
2. Finis Freestyle Snorkel.
I wish I had had one of these during my age group swimming days.
As an habitual one-sided breather I developed some pretty ludicrous muscle imbalances in my chest, shoulder and back as a result of breathing to one side for years of distance workouts.
Since getting back in the water a couple years ago rarely have I done a practice without strapping on the swim snorkel for a set or two.
After all, with it you can…
- Do streamlined kicking. Hard to do this without a snorkel without breaking streamline and having your hips sink straight to the bottom of the pool.
- Improved hand entry. The result of those years of one-sided breathing left me with a left arm catch that dropped—a lot. Using a snorkel while doing long bouts of freestyle (especially in a long course pool) helped me correct this, restoring balance to what had become a galloping stroke.
- Easier to hit desired rhythm. For those swimmers trying to achieve a smooth, even kayak-like stroke breathing presents a unique problem—it breaks our cadence and rhythm, especially if we favor one side over the other (which, I assume, is just about everybody). With a snorkel mounted on your face you don’t roll your body to interrupt your stroke, giving you more time swimming with the technique you want.
(On a side-note, throw it in the dishwasher once a week to keep it nice and clean. The mouthpiece will get moldy hanging out in that mesh swim bag of yours after a while. You are breathing through it, after all.)
3. TYR Socket Rocket goggles.
There are about a kajillion different kind of swim goggles out there for all types.
From the old school Swedes, to the $80ish dollar Speedo FastSkins there is a set of goggle for every swimmer.
But after years and years of swimming wanna know my favorite?
The TYR Socket Rocket.
Besides the fact that the name rhymes, the mirrored goggles look certified gangster, and provide a surprisingly clear view from the inside out, something that is key given that I swim at the local Y where the lighting leaves something to be desired.
The goggles come ready to wear right out of the package and they are coated with an anti-leak “Thermo Plastic Rubber” that is surprisingly comfortable, especially during those long workouts when you don’t have a chance to peel your goggles off your face too often.
The indented-goggles-in-the-face look isn’t a particularly appealing one, even for the most ardent of swimmer.
Oh, and they are only about $20.
4. YourSwimBook log book.
I bet ya didn’t see that one coming, did you?
Can’t have a gift guide without a shameless plug or two. Seeing as all the gear on this list is stuff that I use, might as well throw it in here as well.
So what if youuu use it, I can hear you thinkin’.
Auburn University’s whole team got one last year. So did the Nations Capital Swim Club (Katie Ledecky’s swim team). As well as St. Peters Western Swim Club (home of Olympian Stephanie Rice and coach Michael Bohl).
Mel Stewart, Olympic champion, had some pretty good things to say about the book. Oakville head coach Sean Baker (2012 National Club Coach of the Year) had some praise as well.
The benefits are pretty simple:
- More consistent practices. Logging your workouts, and tracking the things that matter, means that you are able to pinpoint patterns and habits that lead to great, good, and bad workouts.
- Motivation for days. There are fewer things more rewarding than sitting down on looking over a well executed practice. Having your training history at your finger tips
- Sections on goal setting, mental toughness and more.
YourSwimBook retails for $39. You can learn a lot more about it by clicking over here.
5. Swim-specific dryland.
Weight training for swimmers has come a long way for swimming over the years.
Gone are the days where coaches would send their swimmers to the weight room to go pick up and put down weights with little regard to specificity or how well the work done in gym transferred to the pool.
For those swimmers who are struggling with their dryland, or who are at a loss for what to do, or are looking for something that is super specific to their goals in the water, help is here.
Bridge Athletic is a simple idea brought to you by a powerful app and experienced strength and conditioning coaches.
Here is essentially how it works:
- Download the BridgeAthletic app on iOS or Android.
- Sign up for the program. Enter your best event, your meet schedule, how much gym equipment you have access to, workout frequency, training schedule, and exercise experience.
- You’ll be prompted to perform a series of bodyweight exercises and stretches to assess strength and flexibility.
- Within about a day or so you will get a fully customized strength training plan that is unique to your event, strength & flexibility and your workout schedule. Everything is covered in the workouts, from the warm-up, to set and range reps, to a full and complete warm-down (stretching) at the end of each session.
- Once you do each set, you tick it off (a satisfying feeling) and move on to the next. Video and image demonstrations are included within the app, as there are a lot of exercises in the program (there was in mine, at least).
I could go on and on about this app, but the key things I noticed during the first few months of its use was a nearly 40 pound increase in my barbell back squat, and I dropped a couple seconds in my 50 free kick.
And who designs your customized training plan?
Nick Folker, the former Strength & Conditioning coach for the men’s and women’s teams at Cal.
He continues to work with some of the sport’s best sprinters, including Roland Schoeman, Natalie Coughlin, Tom Shields, and some Olympic gold medal winner you might have heard of named Nathan Adrian.
BridgeAthletic has plans for individuals as well as teams and groups. Learn more here.
6. Mental training for swimmers made simple.
For a lot of swimmers the most challenging part of the sport isn’t the endless miles, or the mastery of technique, or those brutal lung-buster pull sets (although those are plenty difficult).
It’s getting a grip on the mental aspect of the sport.
For any swimmer that has ever gotten up on the block and choked they know just how mental the sport can be. Same goes for the swimmer who is a yo-yo when it comes to their swim practices–one day they are ripping across the surface of the water, the next they are down in the dumps because their swimming isn’t going as well as they’d like.
So what’s the answer?
There is so much information out there that it can feel overwhelming. Particularly when most of the material is written in a dense and inaccessible format that only makes sense to academics and experts in the field.
Enter Conquer the Pool.
It’s the first book for swimmers of its kind, a mental training manual that covers everything the enterprising young swimmer needs to dominate their mindset (and as a result, their PB’s). The book comes in 3 parts, each designed to help you master your brain:
- Part 1 shows you how to set goals that are not only awesome but will also keep you motivated over the long term. You’ll pick up some valuable new goal setting techniques proven by research and studies.
- Part 2 helps you become the swimmer that crushes it in practice. From how to suffer like a champion, how to mentally get through injury, how to be tougher and grittier during those painful main sets, how to improve your focus and concentration, and much, much more.
- And part 3–you guessed it–helps you to have a bulletproof mindset in competition. You will learn exactly what it takes for you to perform at your best consistently. Wanna take a guess at how confidant you are going to feel when you know exactly what you need to swim like a chlorinated monster?
Conquer the Pool is currently being used by teams across the country, with university programs such as Notre Dame, Auburn and Indiana using it with their swimmers, as well as dozens of club teams including the London Aquatic Club, Shaker Heights Swimming, and many more.
The book retails for $39, and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. Learn more about it here.
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