We assembled a crack team of swimmers to test a range of swimming training aids to bring you our choice of the best kit to use in your training sessions
Swimmer and swim coach at Fit&Abel
English Channel swimmer
OS contributing editor
FINIS AGILITY PADDLE
They say: Teaches an early vertical forearm position to increase stroke efficiency. The convex shape requires a proper palm-positive hand position. Incorrect technique will cause the paddle to fall off.
Dan: A technique paddle that encourages positive pressure on the water. They don’t have a strap which is helpful in guiding beginners towards the correct stroke and catch technique – if swimming incorrectly they just fall off. A lot of products can be over-engineered. These aren’t.
FINIS FREESTYLE PADDLES
They say: Specifically designed for freestyle training, the paddles plane the hand forward through the water, improving reach and distance-per-stroke. They promote a strong pull through, better hip-rotation and increased efficiency.
Dan: Unique and really helpful for technique development. They help a swimmer with extension out in front. Well designed and robust. Just remember these are a specific rather than general paddle.
“Paddles predominately provide increased resistance and are great for strength and speed training” Dan Abel
AQUA SPHERE ERGOFLEX HAND PADDLES
They say: Combines stiff polypropylene “bones” with flexible rubber frame, combining resistance with a feel for the water. Available in two sizes. The wide hand strap is adjustable and can be removed for optional finger only use.
Jonathan: A more elaborate kit design than other paddles, we liked the rubber frame making the paddles more swimmer friendly if training in a crowded lane.
AQUA SPHERE MP STRENGTH PADDLE
They say: Designed to mimic the natural bone structure of the hand for a more natural pulling motion. Adjustable wrist strap and finger loop. Available in three sizes
Alice: A high visibility flat paddle. Its shape and raised palm supports helps to provide a more natural feel of the water. We would have liked the finger loop to have been adjustable too.
HEAD CONTOUR PADDLES
They say: Contoured hand paddle with adjustable silicone wrist straps.
Jonathan: They’re good for swimrun if you don’t want too large a paddle and can easily clip them onto your belt or can leave them free. Because they’re not too big they won’t tire you out if you’re swimming a long distance.
ROKA PRO SWIM PADDLES
They say: Defined by their ergonomic design. They come in three different sizes and have a customisable strapping system.
Dan: For basic strength building paddles, these are really comfortable, easy to set up and adjustable.
Alice: Yeah, I like these – and out of the pool, you could probably use them as ping pong bats.
Jonathan: Slightly bigger than some paddles so give you more propulsion, which is great in swimrun.
ZOGGS MATRIX HAND PADDLES
They say: A great training aid for improving stroke technique. They force your hand to stay straight as you pull through the water.
Jonathan: A good price point. We liked that you can move the rubber strap up the paddle to wrap around one finger if you want.
BORN TO SWIM ERGONOMICAL HAND PADDLES
They say: Small hand paddles. Ergonomically shaped contour.
Jonathan: Try using just the middle finger strap, which will help guide your hand through the water without relying on the silicone strap support.
LOMO WEBBED GLOVES
They say: Webbed fingers provide additional resistance in the water whilst swimming and increase the intensity of your training.
Jonathan: Not an alternative to paddles, but they do introduce a degree of resistance. Softer than plastic paddles if you bump into someone in the pool.