We have reviewed training snorkels before on our gear pages, but the Powerbreather is something different. Rather than the traditional single, central tube, the Powerbreather features two tubes either side of the head and a central mouthpiece with one-way valve. This means that not only are you breathing in twice as much fresh air through the two tubes as you would with a traditional snorkel, but exhaling through the mouthpiece also means that you are not inhaling recycled air (containing carbon dioxide). The result: you can breathe clean, fresh air as normal. This has obvious training benefits on top of the improvements to technique that using a snorkel can bring.
The Powerbreather takes a bit of adjustment to get the fit right first time. Initially I wore it too low so that the tubes clipped the top of my arms as I stroked. But the Powerbreather is very adjustable (by using the screw lock on the strap and by altering the angle of the tubes), and once fitted properly it felt like I wasn’t wearing it. To start with take a few breaths underwater to get used to the sensation of exhaling through the mouthpiece as it is quite noisy and bubbly.
The Powerbreather looks like a toy spaceship, and once you are swimming with it you do feel like an invincible android. You can immediately concentrate on your stroke and with no central tube your view is clear. The Powerbreather does feel as though it slightly restricts your breathing so may have benefits on lung function. On my first swim I did a few hundreds which were slower than usual. I then did some sets concentrating on technique. The fresh air from the Powerbreather is markedly different from using a traditional snorkel and it is comfortable to swim long distances using it as there is no water build-up in the mouthpiece. There isn’t the feeling of sickness that you can get when using single-tube snorkels. Once I took off the Powerbreather and swam normally I seemed to be swimming much faster than usual – which is always a bonus!
The Powerbreather comes in three versions: Sport, Lap and Wave. We tested the Wave version, which has slightly longer tubes for use in choppy water. The Wave also comes with two adaptors to use when tumble turning. I found that the one that restricts the amount of water entering the tubes when turning worked best for me.
Verdict: a really useful addition to your kit bag and a massive improvement on single-tube snorkels. I will be using the Powerbreather in training over the summer and fully expect to see measureable benefits.
Wave £100, Lap £80, Sport £70