Crush PRs With a Swim Training Snorkel

Training & Technique
Written by: Thomas Board at 1 October '21 0
You are reading: Crush PRs With a Swim Training Snorkel

Do snorkels really belong in a swimming pool? Like many swimmers, you may see a snorkel as something better suited to open-water pursuits or a tool you use for a brief stretch while vacationing. Taking a snorkeling trip to look at colorful corals is a wonderful experience, but swim training snorkels are a serious training aid that could change the way you swim forever.

In this article, we’ll run through the benefits of using a swim training snorkel, drills that utilize a snorkel to get better results, physical health improvements, and a snorkel buying guide. Let’s dive right in!

The Benefits of Using a Swim Training Snorkel

Arena swim training snorkel in black and yellow

Adding a swim training snorkel to your training regimen is an absolute game-changer. It’s right up there alongside swim fins and kickboards as one of the top training tools. From freestyle to breaststroke, swim snorkels can improve your stroke in a way that traditional snorkels cannot.

Designed for the Serious Swimmer

If you’ve never tried or seen a swim training snorkel, your first thoughts may be that snorkels just get in the way. Traditional snorkels can cause drag, and more aggressive strokes, such as front crawl and butterfly, can cause water to enter your mouth. 

Swim snorkels work differently. With the addition of a head bracket and a front-facing mouthpiece, a swimming snorkel helps you keep a low profile and is always facing in the direction you are swimming in. This opens up a world of uninterrupted swimming that incorporates all strokes.

Helps You Become One With the Water

The West is becoming increasingly aware of Eastern philosophies. Meditation and mindfulness have become a common feature of our vocabulary. In this fast-paced world we live in, any opportunity for peace should be welcomed. 

Training snorkels are very hydrodynamic. They cause minimal drag and little discomfort to the wearer. That coupled with unlimited breathing and the ability to keep the snorkel on during flip turns when swimming laps (this will take a bit of practice) offers the user a very seamless swimming experience. 

A swim training snorkel simplifies the swimming experience, allowing you to easily connect with the water and let your worries float away.

Increases Awareness

Many freestyle swimmers struggle to keep their head from rocking during the stroke. A swimming snorkel helps to realign your body from your head to your toes. With practice, this can be applied to your snorkel-free freestyle as well.

A straighter head can actually lead to a more fleshed-out kick. Swimmers can briefly cross their ankles as they turn their head to take breaths. Breathing without having to move your head means no crossing and a much more reliable flutter kick.

It’s tough to keep your eyes glued to the bottom of the pool when your natural instinct is to look forward to avoid harm. But constantly looking up is bad for posture and your hydrodynamics. A swim training snorkel’s design encourages you to look down, another improvement to your stroke.

Now that you don’t have to think about breathing it’s just you, the water, and your technique. As mentioned earlier, the swim snorkel gives you a more mindful experience. This increased awareness will allow you to pick up on the nuances of your stroke. When you have a broader scope of the specifics, you can make little modifications to your stroke, improving speed and overall technique.

Improves Your Length Times

If you’re a competitive swimmer, it all comes down to shaving down those seconds and gaining an edge on your competitors at swim meets. 

Studies have shown using a swim training snorkel can improve stroke rate and stroke length. At the end of the day, improved technique means improved stroke, which gives improved results. 

It’s highly likely that you will be able to make your Strava followers proud with faster laps while wearing your training snorkel. If you successfully apply the improved techniques the snorkel has given you to your unassisted laps, you could bring home some PRs at swim meets too.

Keeps Your Backstroke on Point

Astute readers may have noticed that we said a swim training snorkel helps with all strokes. As we all know backstroke doesn’t involve you putting your face in the water. Surely a swim snorkel becomes obsolete in this circumstance, right?

If you turn your snorkel around it will end up sticking up above your head like an antenna. When swimming backstroke, you can now use the snorkel as a guide that will show you how much your head is moving.

As with front crawl, keeping your body position in line is just as important with backstroke. Who would have thought a swim snorkel could improve backstroke?

Provides Larger Lung Capacity and Pain Relief

A swim training snorkel can have significant benefits for your health in and out of the pool. Improved lung capacity and reduced neck pain are both attributed to using a snorkel.

It only takes one bad night’s sleep when your head rolled off the pillow to cause days’ worth of neck pain that can cause considerable pain during the slightest of movements. Using a center-mount snorkel can give your neck a rest during your swim training sessions.

Have you ever seen runners wearing altitude masks that limit airflow as they train? A training snorkel acts in a similar fashion as there is a slight restriction of air. You can limit this air intake even more by using a limiter, thus improving your lung capacity. Regular training of this ilk will eventually improve your aerobic capacity allowing you to reduce how much you breathe when swimming without a snorkel.

Putting Your Snorkel to Work

The tip of an Arena swim training snorkel

Now that you have an idea of how a swim snorkel can improve your body alignment, head position and so on, let’s have a look at a couple drills that incorporate a swim snorkel. These are guaranteed to add some excitement to your training sessions and will work just as well for advanced swimmers as they do for beginners. You can even try incorporating swim fins for an even more dynamic training regimen.

Closed-Fist Freestyle

Now that you are using a snorkel that is fastened with a head strap, you can experiment a little more with alterations to your strokes. This simple drill can be used for both endurance or HIIT training, depending on your training needs.

You simply swim freestyle using your hands as fists rather than paddles. This is a great drill for helping with elbow recovery and improving forearm strength. A significant amount of your pulling should already be with your forearms. This drill, with the added benefit of not having to worry about your breathing, will allow you to bring focus to the importance of your forearms during freestyle. 

When you return to a traditional freestyle using your hands as paddles, the results will leave you feeling motivated as to how strong your stroke actually is.

Breaststroke Leg Kick Variations

This one can be a real killer — you can alternate it between normal lengths or even other strokes to get the results you want. 

All you need to do is swim breaststroke, but alternate your leg kick on every third arm stroke. Here are the three leg kicks to use (you can add your own too):

  • Breaststroke leg kick
  • Butterfly leg kick
  • Freestyle flutter kicks

Since you never have to bring your head out of the water during this drill, focus on the kicks, making sure that you emulate the different strokes as well as you possibly can. 

Which Snorkel Should I Buy?

Arena offers some of the best snorkels on the market. Let’s see what the difference is between the standard and the pro models.

Swim Snorkel III

Arena Swim Snorkel III

The original swimmer’s snorkel let’s you swim anxiety-free with its one-way purge valve, which prevents you from inhaling water through its silicone mouthpiece. It’s a great snorkel for beginners and will keep your swimming streamlined.

Swim Snorkel Pro III

Arena Swim Snorkel Pro III

This one’s for the advanced swimmers, triathletes, and anyone else that wants to crush it. This athlete-tested model has a headband that ensures it won’t let you down even during high-speed swimming at a full range of motion. This best-seller offers two silicone mouthpieces to choose from and two limiters for making inhaling and exhaling more difficult.

Is a Swimming Snorkel for Me?

With regular use, a swim training snorkel will improve your stroke and breathing techniques and change your relationship with swimming as you discover a more mindful state. 

In years to come, it will become just as normal to see a snorkel in the pool as a nose clip, swim goggles, underwater mp3 player, or a pull buoy. So why not get ahead of the crowd, improve your stroke technique, get mindful, and focus on simply swimming?

Arena is one of the world’s top brands for swimwear and swimming aids. Our swim training snorkels combined with swim fins will add a whole new dynamic to your training sessions. Not only can you enjoy strength gains and improved times, but you may just fall in love with swimming all over again.


Written by:

Thomas Board

Tom is an outdoor and adventure travel writer and full-time firefighter based in Leeds, UK. He spends his free time summiting the mountains of Wales and wild swimming in the lakes of Snowdonia all year round.