We only sell products we know from personal experience to work. We don’t mind selling things that customers repeatedly ask us to sell, like the Barracuda B300 foam goggles, even though we’re not fans. But we refuse to sell kickboards and pull buoys for example, because we believe them generally to be detrimental to the process of swimming without stress.
But, with memories of Olympic legend Popov training with a snorkel back in the 90s, we were intrigued by the Swimmer’s Snorkel by Finis and thought we’d try one out. Not put off by Finis’s motto under the logo on the packaging, ‘Swim Hard’, Ian has tested the snorkel during recent training sessions with some surprising results.
“The Swimmer’s Snorkel is a revolutionary product that all swimmers canuse to improve their technique” Pablo Morales, Three Time Olympic gold Medallist
“The Swimmer’s Snorkel allows the swimmer to isolate and concentrate on body balance, rotation and alignment by eliminating the complicated breathing motion.” Richards WQuick, Head Coach, USA Women’s Olympic Swim Team
As an Alexander Technique teacher, it would be easy for me to argue against any of the benefits of a swimming snorkel claimed by Finis. But I’m certainly glad I gave it a go. I’ve been using it for about 300 or 400 metres during each training session (about 25% of distance covered) and find that it really does something for my stroke. It causes me to feel, particularly after I’ve taken it off, that I’m getting hold of the water better than ever before though I can’t quite work out why.
Trusting the process of breathing through a tube takes a bit of getting used to (when swimming with fish on holiday I prefer not to bother) and it wasn’t until the second time of using that I managed to stop holding my breath! But I’m definitely a fan. In the same way that sparing use of training fins makes your kick more effective by educating the legs and feet, using the snorkel seems to improve my stroke and makes me feel, fleetingly, like Michael Phelps (so long as I don’t look at the clock)!
I find it helpful to regulate snorkel-breathing by exhaling through the mouth on one glide (as one arm enters the water and travels forward) and inhaling on the other. It is enjoyable just to allow yourself to switch from left to right like a pendulum with your neck relaxed and head and spine still, at the centre of it all.
When you take the snorkel off, can you keep a similar rhythm or does the need to rotate into the breathing position change the rhythm of your stroke? I find that my old pattern when breathing bilaterally is to think something like ‘one, two, breathe left, one, two, breathe right…’, which means I’m breaking the flow of the stroke in order to inhale, whereas the challenge is for the breathing stroke to be just another stroke with no interruption of forward direction. After using the snorkel, I remind myself to think ‘left,right, left, right…’ or ‘one, two, one two…’ so that breathing bilaterally doesn’t cause me to interrupt the flow of the stroke; the simple, brain-satisfying pleasure of switching from oneside to the other, left to right.
So to sum up my experience and advice:
Don’t think of using the snorkel as an opportunity to forget about the breathing, while you focus on the rest of the stroke.
Continue to think of the stroke as a whole – with the head releasing into the water, the breath flowing and the spine lengthening as the base from where the movement comes.
17-Apr-2013 / written by Ian Cross
Last year Zoggs brought out their Fusion Air goggle with an exciting new air cushion seal. They’re a small goggle with inter-changing nose bridges for a custom fit. But for me they didn’t live up to their “no more panda eyes” claim – even with different nose-bridges, I was unable to get a watertight fit without tightening to the extent that they left red marks at least as bad as other goggles.
Always a little sceptical of 'advances in goggle technology', I tried them - first in the office, then in the pool. For me the fit was instant and comfortable. They left slight shallow red marks at the end of my eyebrows, but by the time I was showered these had gone.
Ian’s tried them (and I haven’t had them back yet). Concerned less with marking and more with visibility, he said he didn’t know he had them on – comfortable and fog free. I doubt he looked in the mirror at the pool but there certainly weren’t any marks by the time he got home.If they work for Maureen …
Maureen has been coming for regular swimming lessons and has tried different goggles every week. As she gets more confident the goggles are becoming less bothersome, but we still hadn’t found a pair that hadn’t leaked. Last lesson I said nothing as I put the Ultima Air in place. They didn’t fog up. They didn’t leak. In fact, Maureen didn’t touch or mention the goggles until a few minutes before the end of her lesson – “These are good, aren’t they?” YES! But the proof of the pudding was when she took them off – you absolutely wouldn’t have known she’d had goggles on! My only disappointment was that she didn’t seem nearly as excited by this as I was! But then she hasn’t been searching as long.A recreational goggle:
The larger frame stands quite proud on its air cushion – so not as hydrodynamic as some. Also, the “panoramic vision” is not as wide as other curved lens goggles. But the Ultima Air is an easy to wear, easy to adjust, one piece goggle which, as far as “no more panda eyes” goes, is the best yet.Could the Zoggs Ultima Air be the one?
03-Feb-2013 / written by Cheryl Cross
Modern swimwear has come a long way with a list of features including bust support (full foam, shelf, under-wired, boost), tummy and booty support, longer length, adjustable straps ...
Feel good in the pool by choosing a costume to suit your shape.
Look out for tummy control, this will smooth and support the tummy area. Detail on the bust will focus attention away from the tummy whilst an empire line will enhance the narrowest area of your waist. Vertical details lengthen the body and provide a slimming effect.
Aim to have the detail, colour and design focusing on the chest and away from the hips. Achieve a slimmer look – opt for control fabrics with draped and ruched styling. Asymmetric details will avoid a focus on unwanted areas.
The design of the Zoggs Wyomi X Back is ideal and also offers great support all over. Also see the Aqua Sphere Siena which has removable cups, adjustable straps and colour to widen the chest area. The colours of the Aqua Sphere Bairiki should draw attention up and away from the hips.
Aim to have the detail on the lower half focusing attention away from the chest. Embrace your assets with sweetheart necklines. Look for suits with hidden support features such as cupsized, underwired and shelf bras.
The new Aqua Sphere Freya costume has a flattering twist front and discreet bust support.
The lovely 50’s style neckline on the Zoggs Ella Scoopback Longer Length costume is very flattering, with optional support in removable cups.
Be bold and flaunt those curves! Enhance your shape with added features such as cup support and control panels. An empire line will further enhance your natural shape. Try the Speedo Sculpture Premiere Classic for flattering support all over.
Details on the waist will create the illusion of curves. Enhance your shape with added features such as padded cups and control panels. See the Zoggs Alexandra with full foam cups and gathering around bust. The Aqua Sphere Manaus has detail in the right place and plenty of support. Coloured panels or piping around sides will help to accentuate even the very slightest of curves. Like on the Aqua Sphere Topaz. A high neck will make the chest area appear larger.
The choice is basically bold or black, and we've found you generally stick to black, or very nearly black! Choose between briefs (probably not!), training shorts or jammers (cycling short length). Ian feels his jammers are more modest than shorter styles. If you have short legs, the shorter style might make the most of their length like the Zoggs Mission Hip Racer - with a splash of colour. Go for it!
01-Feb-2013 / written by Cheryl Cross
We teach swimming every day and help a lot of people to choose the right pair of goggles. We have yet to find a pair of goggles that fits everyone or a face that fits any goggle, but if any of the questions below apply to you, check out our recommendations.
Do your goggles leave ugly marks around your eyes?Try going for something with a larger frame, at least then any marks will not be on your delicate eye skin: Barracuda Wire Mask or Aqua Sphere Seal Mask (the original swimming mask). The Barracuda B300 is not a favourite of ours, but many people find them the best for not leaving marks.
Do your goggles let in water?Bushy eyebrows, face cream and cringing are some of the things we’ve found to interfere with the seal. You should be able to tell whether the seal is good without getting into the water - the whole seal should sit snugly against your skin without needing uncomfortable suction. One very reliable sealer is the Barracuda Ultimate. If it’s your bushy eyebrows, choose a larger shape – the seal of the Aqua Sphere Seal Mask 2.0 sits across the middle of your forehead.
Do your goggles fog up?There’s not much you can do about temperatures (head, air, water) but in time, when your goggles’ anti-fog coating starts to wear off, you can freshen them up with some anti-fog solution. In the meantime, avoid touching and wiping the lenses.
Does the strap of your goggles slip down your neck and need to be re-tightened?Choose goggles with a broad, split silicone strap and wear the strap high on the back of your head, in a horizontal line with the lenses. The strap of the Aqua Sphere Kaiman fits the bill and is really easy to adjust.
Do you wear glasses?The Aqua Sphere Eagle takes prescription lenses from -1.5 to -6 diopter.
Do you need goggles for open water swimming?To reduce glare at the surface, go for a tinted, mirrored or polarized lens and, perhaps, a larger frame for more panoramic vision: Aqua Sphere Vista with tinted lenses or Swans Polarized Lens Goggles. For all conditions, see the new photochromic Zoggs Predator Flex Reactor.
Do you struggle to see to the bottom of the pool?The CV (Clear Vision) lenses in the Zoggs Predator Goggles filter the light to crisp up your view.
Do you feel like a square in your goggles?Some goggles definitely have more of a cool factor. For men, look at the Aqua Sphere Kayenne Tinted Lens/White Frame , for ladies, the Aqua Sphere Kayenne Lady in Glitter/Powder Blue or the Vista Lady with a bit of pink.more
10-Jun-2012 / written by Cheryl Cross
Out here in west Wales, we don’t see our reps too frequently so it’s sometimes a while before we get to see new products first hand.
Often it is our customers who direct us to new products. Sometimes with an item they bought abroad and are now trying to replace at home. Sometimes they are searching for a product (which doesn’t necessarily exist) for a particular task.
We like to listen to suggestions for new ranges and feedback on existing stock. We have set up Feefo so you can help each other buy the right product for your need. When we were at the Cold Water Swimming Championships in January I enjoyed standing back and watching swimmers selling our stock to each other - ‘These are what you want - they are fantastic.’... ‘You’ve got to get one of these.’ Well, it makes our job a lot easier.
It was a long while before our range of stock really developed, mostly because we’d see new stock and wouldn’t like it as much (‘They’re good but I still prefer the Kaimans’ !) We’ve learnt to listen to people and we’ve learnt that not everyone likes the same thing !
One goggle we really didn’t like will be making a come back soon – it’s a niche market but we’ve had enough requests to make us think we are not always right. This is the Barracuda B300 – worth a try if all else has failed, some people swear by them.
We do still like to try out everything. Something we haven’t had a chance to try yet is Lifesystems Anti Jellyfish Sun Protection Cream (we don’t have a lot of jellyfish here and often not a lot of sun). But we have had people buying full wetsuits not for warmth but for protection from jellyfish, so this has got to be worth a try at a fraction of the price.
A couple of other ideas in the pipeline are the Swimmers' snorkel – allowing you to work on your stroke without the anxiety of the breathing - and waterproof MP3 players. Listening to music whilst swimming goes against our ‘mindful approach’ but how about downloading tips and mini lessons to keep you attentive in the water? If you already use one, do let us know what you think about that for an idea.
So we’ll keep trying stuff out and letting you know and in the meantime do use the Feefo review service, or simply drop us an e mail, to let us know what you’re after.
04-Mar-2011 / written by Cheryl Cross
Submit your email address so we can keep you up to date with new postings.
“ I'd like to help people through this blog who are currently struggling with something in the water - strugglers of all abilities - non-swimmers, people unable to co-ordinate the strokes, fitness swimmers who can't stop watching the clock, teachers of swimming getting nowhere with belligerent pupils. There are a lot of you about and if it wasn't for you, Swimming Without Stress wouldn't exist. So please feel free to comment."Ian Cross - Swimming Without Stress