Iron Mike here presents to you twelve days of gift ideas for the marathon swimmer in your life. Check back daily!
Day six: Tuesday, 19 December. Paddles.
Like fins, you can get away with not having paddles. But if you really want to dial in your stroke, they are a useful accessory. And for my money, there is only one paddle worth your money.
Now I have a love-hate relationship with Finis, mostly due to some marketing decisions they’ve made in the past. Also for their shoddy electronics. But I believe so much in the Freestyler paddle, it wouldn’t be fair to not recommend it.
As its name implies, the Freestyler is for swimmers who primarily swim the crawl stroke. That’s 99% of us marathon swimmers. (Those 1% who find marathon swims too easy and complete them doing butterfly are, by definition, crazy. This paddle is not for them.) The Freestyler forcing your hand to make a proper catch and follow through. If your hand describes the keyhole shape many of us grew up learning, the paddle makes your hand slip in the water, giving you immediate feedback: Bad swimmer! Bad!
In order for this to work, you cannot cheat. You can see by their design, they are smaller near where your fingers will be. This makes it easy to cheat and wrap your fingers around the paddle. This negates the feedback you’ll get with an improper catch and pull. All you do is simply insert your middle finger through the tubing, hand flat against the paddle and swim.
There are other paddles out there, from small ones that fit in your palm, to monsters that dwarf your hand. (If you’re competing in SwimRun, may I recommend these monsters?) But if you’re simply looking to improve your catch and pull in freestyle, the Freestylers are the ones.