Improve your swimming with a central snorkel

1 05 009 Image Usage Yellow 61

The central snorkel was developed as a training tool for swimmers. The idea is that by removing the need to turn your head to breathe, you can focus on other aspects of your swimming technique. The central snorkel is preferred to the side snorkels used by divers as these can interfere with your arm movement and they don’t cope so well with fast push-offs from walls.

As a training tool, it sounds like a good idea but I’ve never been a fan. I’ve always found swimming with a snorkel feels closed-in and claustrophobic. Whenever I’ve tried before, I’ve given up after a few lengths. I just didn’t like it. However, recently, due to neck pain possibly caused by lots of sighting in open water, using a snorkel has been the only way I can swim front crawl and it’s given me a new appreciation of this simple but useful piece of kit. So why would you use a snorkel if you didn’t have to?

Improve symmetry

Butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke are all symmetrical strokes, but if you only or mostly breathe to one side, front crawl isn’t. Habitual breathing to one side can create imbalances in other parts of your stroke. You may rotate more to one side than the other, or your hands may follow different paths through the water. By using a snorkel and taking away the need to turn your head to breathe you can work on improving symmetry in your front crawl.

Improve your catch

The first part of the front crawl stroke is known as “the catch”. This is where you set up your hand and arm for the rest of the stroke so it’s important to get this right. By removing any worries about breathing, swimming with a snorkel can help you focus on and improve your catch.

Improve balance

Many swimmers, when they breathe in front crawl, as well as turning their head also lift it. Alternatively, or additionally, they may hold their head higher than necessary when their face is in the water. Both these habits can cause your legs to sink. Swimming with a snorkel allows you to experiment with different head positions without the distraction of breathing and assess the impact on your balance in the water.

Improve alignment

Any sideways movement, such as wiggling hips, in swimming is wasted energy. It can be caused by things such as crossing over the centre line with your arms or excessive head movement. Swimming with a snorkel can allow you to concentrate on keeping your body in alignment.

Relaxation and mindfulness

Despite sounding like Darth Vader with pneumonia, taking out the movements needed for regular breathing helps you to improve your focus and become more relaxed as you swim. Snorkel swimming also encourages you to slow down, which is again relaxing.

1 05 009 Image Usage Yellow 87

You can use a central snorkel in open water but you will still need to look up to see where you are going