Swim -o- Rama

November 16, 2011

If I have not mentioned it yet….. I still swim outside. In November, in Upstate New York. Yes the pool is heated silly. No I don’t know what it costs but it’s awesome. The run from the locker room to the pool can be chilly, but that’s why God made swim parakas.

That’s the best hundred bucks I have ever spent. Trust me, swim parka’s aren’t just for swimming either. These fashionable almost-like-a-sniggie-but-so-much-better-looking piece is perfect for…. going out in the rain to watch a soccer game, riding a hayride, and just about all things outdoors. Some women around here wear fur coats….. I wear this beauty.

No really… it’s okay to be jealous.

My club’s  pool is open until November 30th, although the way our weather has been I wonder if I can talk them into another month. They have outdoor pools that are open year ’round in Colorado….. why not Rochester? Lake effect my ass.

After swimming indoors for 30+ years and breathing that air….. there is nothing like swimming outside and breathing fresh air. It doesn’t take much to make us swimmers happy. Come on……. we’ve been staring at a black line for most of our lives, we are pretty darn easy to please.

Naturally with a swimming background I get a lot of swimming questions. Here are some of the latest ones:

1. Certain coaches say to never swim with things like paddles, kickboards, etc. What is your opinion?

  • I have one rule when it comes to coaches…… if a coach says NEVER, that is a red flag. Never is not part of my vocabulary and it shouldn’t be part of any good coach’s. Never is final, never is too much of a one way street and never fails to recognize individuality.
  • I like to utilize swim equipment because it can help swimmers…. especially new ones develop a better feel for the water. As runners we are often taught to run on different surfaces, in different shoes to allow us to become more versatile runners. Same thing with swim equipment. Wearing certain paddles changes your feel in the water, adding fins helps to increase ankle flexibility, when we do take this stuff off it leaves us with a better feel or sensation of the water.

2. What are the best types of paddles to use?

  • Disclaimer: you are speaking to a paddle addict.
  • It depends on what you are using the paddle for.
  • To build overall shoulder strength I like the TYR Catalyst the best. When looking for sizes ignore the color chart on the side of the box, pull them out and try them on. I don’t like to see more than 1 inch of space (again, preferably less) of paddle around your hand. If using the TYR Catalyst most athletes will be a red or smaller. There is really no need to go bigger. The athletes who go bigger usually do so with an improper stroke, which the invitation for shoulder injury. There are a lot of other wonderful paddles out there, the TYR ones are just ones I personally like best. The only ones I would stay away from are the square ones.
  • To improve biomechanics and your catch. One of my athletes last season introduced me to the PT Paddle by Finis. This paddle was a big challenge for me, because I love the above ones which make me go fast and feel all-powerful. Pop these babies on and add about 10-15 seconds to your 100 time. They will slow you down, so prepare your ego. Because their purpose is to help you improve the catch phase of your stroke…. they eliminate the feeling that you have hands altogether. Here is a great video describing how they work:

There are lots of other types of paddles out there, each of which have different purposes. Know your purpose and let that guide your toy choices. Change it up, use things that allow you to feel the water differently, you’ll be a more well-rounded swimmer because of it.

3. What type of goggle should I use? Finding a good pair of goggles is just like finding that perfect pair of underwear. When you find them you need to buy 100 of them. The key is to try several pairs, if you have a small face try children’s goggles. Here are my two favorites:

  • Sweedish Goggles: Most born in the pool swimmers use these, they are cheap and they are a custom fit, you put them together. Because they fit in the eye socket they won’t leave a ring around the eye (if you have to be presentable afterwards). Not only are they  CHEAP, they last forever. Instead of the regular strap I use a bungee strap which is about another five buckaroos.
  • Aquashphere Kaimans: I like these for open water swimming, but again, this is personal. My biggest anti fog trick is this….. wet your goggles and then flip them over while you are waiting, on your forehead so the eye socket openings face the air. This allows them to air dry instead of suffering that suction – fog effect when against your forehead or cap.

4. Where should I buy swimsuits? There are lots of good places to buy suits, although these days suits are upwards of $70. Think that’s bad? Back in the day we’d swim in paper suits and we distance swimmers needed a new one for each meet. Here are my recommendations for suit buying:

  • Direct: Every swim site has good deals, Speedo, TYR, they all have deals and grab bag suits. When buying a suit look for some sort of polyester blend in there to help extend the life of your suit.
  • Swim outlet: Unless you have been living under a rock, this won’t be new to you. Giant selection of everything from suits to gear, good prices, reliable delivery. Here is the website.
  • Splish: Cutest suits in the business. even for boys! Their grab baggers are a steal, and hop on over to Splish Custom to design your own suit. I have an obsession for having my name on my butt. (This season I am going to have Wheeler’s name put on it for the pure fact that it’s become my hobby to drive him insane.)  For the Splish site…. click here!

5. Swimming  websites, which are the best ones?

  • Drills:  GoSwimTV is the best. Click here for the website. All drills are explained, shown, narrated, and detail is a key. I like their swim workouts, their evaluations, the whole shebang offered on this site.
  • Resources: US Masters Swimming is the best in my opinion. Click here for that. It’s educational, resourceful and has a really good forum.

Ahhhh…. the life of a swimmer never gets old and boring. See all the things we can do to keep it fun and interesting? So this season embrace your inner fish and get into the swim of things. I will be doing that outside for the next two weeks…. just in case I have not mentioned it. Should you wonder who the hawt momma is in the stylish swim parka….. with Wheeler written on her bootie….. it’s me. Aim high.



  1. If you ever meet a man that legitimately needs to use those gray paddles because of his huge hands, please send me his #. Because you’ve heard the rumors about big hands..

    Is that inappropriate?? 🙂

    • Never inappropriate. Not here. Ha!

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