Q. I'm a fairly experienced swimmer but I've never used training aids such as hand paddles and don't really know where to start. What would you recommend?
A. Swim training with paddles is a great way to develop upper- body strength, perfect your stroke and add diversity to your swim session. There are many options when choosing paddles but I would recommend hand and finger paddles.
The fairly large Speedo BioFUSE Power Paddle increases the surface area of the water you catch, which in turn increases resistance. This will improve your strength and endurance.
Build up gradually
Incorporate short amounts of paddle work into your training sessions and gradually build them up; if you do too much, too quickly you risk shoulder strain and injury.
The second type I would recommend is the Speedo BioFUSE Finger Paddle. These paddles go over the edge of your hand and can be used for perfecting your technique and improving distance per stroke, which is very important for triathletes. Finger Paddles are a great way to develop a feel for the water.
When using them, keep your palm open and try to maintain the sensation of water running over your hand. These paddles are engineered for maximum resistance in water and used over time they will help to increase upper-body strength and power.
Elite training tips
Again, start by introducing short sessions into your training regime and gradually increase.
Other swimming aids to consider when training for a triathlon are pull buoys, kick boards and fins, which all help improve technique and develop strength for specific muscle groups; all are used by professional swimmers and triathletes.
Ben Titley is a Speedo coach and head coach of the British Swimming Intensive Training Centre at Loughborough University. His first international coaching duties were at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and as a head coach of the British team at the 1999 World University Games. Eleven of Ben's athletes have represented Great Briatin at the Olympics, and he has twice been voted British Swimming Coach of the Year.