Can snorkels help your swim?

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tsc_snorkelCan snorkels help your swim? When should you use them? How often?

I’ve always understood the benefits to swimming with a snorkel, including the ability to improve body position while maintaining a smooth breathing pattern, as well as increasing VO2 max (maximum capacity to transport and utilize oxygen during incremental exercise).

However, I was relucntant to recommend snorkels to distance swimmers and triathletes, because the ones on the market did not promote good body position.

However, the Freestyle Snorkel by Finis actually promotes good body position. This snorkel can make a huge difference in your training!

Peter Reid, pro triathlete and winner of the 2003 Ironman Triathlon World Championship considers the snorkel as one of the keys to his swim training!

The Freestyle Snorkel is designed specifically for freestyle swimmers. This design allows swimmers to achieve a lower head position during freestyle and therefore further optimize body position. This is the key to snorkel use. If it is in any way teaching you bad body position, there is no reason to use it.

Additional benefits include (from the Finis website):

  • Design uses centrifugal force generated during flip turns to greatly restrict water from entering the tube
  • Ability to maintain a natural, rhythmic breathing pattern due to easy achievement of proper body position
  • Elimination of purge valve results in an increased lung capacity to clear water from tube

So, I’m a fan of the snorkel for training.

However, since you will not be using a snorkel during a triathlon race, it should not be used during your entire workout! Try it for your long swims. But if you are struggling with breathing to the side to get air, and use the snorkel to replace the need to practice this, you aren’t helping your freestyle! Instead, work on some of the basic balance drills first (get 4 workouts with drills by signing up for the Tri Swim Coach newsletter here) and come back to the snorkel later.

To get 20% off snorkels and other swimming equipment, go to and use code ‘aggies’ on checkout!