Tips & Advice

Swim training aids that achieve results with Fred Vergnoux


Workout not working hard enough? Discover how using a training aid can make all the difference to your technique, fitness, strength and speed, in the latest instalment of elite coach Fred Vergnoux’sblog entries.

Training aids

If you’ve never incorporated equipment into your swim training, I’d suggest making this small change now. Training aids can help you work on you strength, technique, fitness and speed – my elite swimmers use them every day.

New to training aids? Start with a pullbuoy

If you’ve never used a training aid, you’ll find they can help you improve quite quickly. My advice would be to start off with a pullbuoy – add this to your swim and it will help elevate your hips into the right body position, which can improve your technique and your speed. Next, I’d suggest trying fins (with or without the pullbuoy) – these are really helpful for kick sets, especially backstroke and butterfly, and for creating speed and for fitness work.

Choosing a training aid

A typical elite swimmer’s kit bag will include a pullbuoy, power paddles, finger paddles, fins, snorkel, and a kickboard. This summary might help choose the right one for your workout.

Best for improving overall fitnessfins.

Best for improving lower body strengthfins.

Best for improving speedfins and hand paddles.

Best for improving techniquesnorkel and fins, plus finger paddlesfor sculling.

Best for improving upper body strengthpaddles and pullbuoy (so you can really work on your arms).

Training aid overview


The benefit of the kickboard is that it keeps your hands out of the water. It’s good if you want to really push your legs and improve your fitness. Beginners can use it to work on their swimming position by holding it with their fingers on the side of the board (rather than arms across the top of it) and their head down.

Finger paddles

You can really work on your technique using finger paddles, especially the first catch of the pull. Use them to improve your stroke, your hand placement and to keep your elbows high.

[Speedo tip: Read our guide to finger paddles for more tips and advice.]

Power paddles

For me, power paddles are great for going against the clock and challenging yourself. Because they create a bigger catch, you can work on your distance per stroke, which is one of the most important aspects of swimming. You can also focus on your pull, especially if you use them with a centre snorkel.

[Speedo tip: Read our guide to power paddles for more tips and advice.]

Centre snorkel

A centre snorkel is good for familiarising yourself with the correct head position and for working on improving your body position in the water. You can use it to do kick sets and because you don’t have to worry about your breathing, it’s very helpful when you want to focus on a lot of technique work.

[Speedo tip: Read our centre snorkel guide for more tips and advice.]


A pullbuoy can help improve your body position by elevating your legs, so it’s a good choice for beginners. It takes care of your legs so you can focus on your arms. A pullbuoy is useful to use when you swim butterfly as it makes it a little bit easier, allowing you to do more repetitions.

[Speedo tip: Read our pullbuoy guide for more tips and advice.]


Fins are probably my number one training aid of choice, because they are very versatile. You can work on your speed, you can work underwater, you can improve your kick and they can make technique work easier because of the speed they add.

[Speedo tip: Read our guide to fins for more tips and advice.]

Summary of the week

  • Adding a training aid to your workout can provide quick results.
  • Start with a pullbuoy if you’re a beginner, then move on to fins.

Next week… Fred reveals the small kick technique change that helps improve your speed and power.

Missed last week? Read Fred’s blog on setting goals here.

For the lowdown on training aids, why not watch our expert videos? They cover the basics of using fins, a centre snorkel,kickboard, pullbuoy, finger paddles and power paddles, and feature expert tips and a visual demonstration of how to use them.

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