If there was one pieces of swimming equipment I would not want to be without, it would be a snorkel. Sure, you must have a suit, cap and goggles for every practice, but the only other gadget I utilize in nearly every swim practice is the snorkel, occasionally during a main set but always during warmup and technique preparation sets. A practice almost always starts with a long swim combining freestyle and sculling, always with a snorkel to lengthen out my stroke and get used to the water while preparing for the day’s workout goals.
Among several snorkels I’ve used over the years, the best is the FINIS Stability Snorkel, the latest product of the sort from the company that first introduced the center-mount snorkel as a piece of training equipment decades ago. FINIS founder John Mix provided Cal men’s coach Nort Thornton with bent plastic sprinkler tubing, and instantly, Thornton saw how these makeshift snorkels promoted efficiency and body position because the swimmers did not have to worry about breathing. Thornton quickly told Mix that the device could be useful for different teams, and FINIS unveiled the first Swimmer’s Snorkel.
Eventually, other swimwear companies would create their own snorkels using the same design: the plastic snorkel connected to a swimmer’s head with a with a bracket resting on the forehead and an adjustable strap keeping the snorkel in place. But the bracket can become uncomfortable, so the FINIS team looked for alternative options of keeping the snorkel in place.
That’s how the Stability Snorkel came into existence. With this device, a cushioned area rests on the forehead, and a long silicone strap wraps twice around the swimmer’s head, distributing pressure evenly instead of simply resting on the forehead. The idea, according to FINIS, is that “swimmers can train with this snorkel for longer periods of time without discomfort.”
The snorkel is adjustable to different levels, and its mouthpiece can rotate when a swimmer is not using it. Swimmers can adjust the size of their snorkel on the back of their heads.
The snorkel is perfect for long freestyle swims, when swimmers can focus on their catch, recovery and length of stroke while the snorkel allows a swimmer to keep their head in the proper position at all times. Swimmers can practice bodyline kicking, either on their stomach or on their side. The snorkel also helps with breaststroke and butterfly drills, particularly on fly when the breath can force a swimmer to drop their legs in order to get the breath.
The advantages of the Stability Snorkel compared to other models are real: swimmers might take a few extra seconds to adjust the snorkel, but it is a more comfortable cruising experience once in place. A typical downside of snorkels is that it fills with water during a flip turn, but the Stability Snorkel’s sleek design keeps out some of the water, leaving less for the swimmer to blow out of the top when they return to stroking on top of the water.
Here’s FINIS-sponsored athlete James Guy talking about the Stability Snorkel and why it’s perfect for what he calls “Slow Motion Perfect Technique:”
If you are looking for a tool to help lengthen out your freestyle, improve your body position and increase efficiency on freestyle as well as butterfly and breaststroke, check out the Stability Snorkel.