The frontal, or centre snorkel is considered an essential piece of training equipment by swim coaches. Whatever your level of proficiency in swimming, a frontal snorkel can help you achieve your goals and move your swimming forward. One of the main reasons a training snorkel helps swimmers to improve their technique is because of the constant supply of air that the swimmer receives.
When you’re swimming, at least some part of your mental energy is concerned with breathing, our bodies have a natural aversion to being below the surface, without access to oxygen, it simply goes against our programming. We want air, and if we haven’t got direct access to it, our brain starts to think about how we can next get access to it. The longer we are without oxygen the louder our brains start to shout about needing more! Using a swimmers snorkel for training allows us to have the mental “breathing space” (pardon the pun) to allow us to focus more on what our body is doing and less about when we’re going to take our next breath.
From beginners to advanced swimmers, everyone can benefit from using a frontal training snorkel during their workout. If this is your first time using a snorkel for your training then you may want to get comfortable in the water first. Try standing in waist deep water whilst wearing your snorkel and bend as if you’re bobbing for apples. Place your face in the water and breathe through the snorkel tube, count to 10 and then come up and take a break. Repeat the exercise, only this time count to 20. The next time count to 30. Go for as long as you want, once you’ve counted to a few hundred you should be totally comfortable using your snorkel in the water.
Catch-Up Freestyle Drill
Once you’re comfortable with your training snorkel, a good exercise to start with is a classic catch-up freestyle drill. If you are (or ever have been) a club swimmer then you’ve most likely come across this drill before. Start in a prone kicking position with streamline arms out in front of you. Pull with your right arm, keeping your left arm extended out in front of you until your right arm has “caught up” with your left arm. (hence the name Catch-up Freestyle). Keep you chin up and eyes forward to achieve a decent stroke symmetry. Your hands should be entering the water at just about the level where your eyes are. Right hand, right eye – left hand, left eye.
You’ll want to be focused on your technique, really get a feel for the water, try to feel which actions or body positions are beneficial to your stroke, and which ones are detrimental to your swimming efficiency. Using the snorkel should help to clear your mind so that you’re more able to do this.
Try these repetitions/variations on your next trip to the pool:
4 x 25’s streamline kick, rest :30 after each
4 x 25’s catch up freestyle, rest :30 after each
4 x 25’s prone kick arms at side, rest :30 after each
4 x 25’s four right arms in a row, four left arms in a row, rest :30 after each
4 x 50’s four right arms, four left arms, eight normal strokes, rest :60 after each
Once you’re confident with your training snorkel, feel free to mix it up a bit with your swim drills, add different training equipment like a kickboard or fins to keep things fresh and bring new benefits to your swim.