Optional Swimming Aids And Accessories

Swimming, whether for recreation or in competition, requires the use of certain equipment, aids or accessories. The essential ones are, of course, swimsuits and goggles (the latter are particularly important in competitive swimming).

Some swimming accessories are used to aid the swimmer in some specific water exercises, to enhance the swimmer's performance in his/her chosen style, or simply for protection. Examples of optional swimming aids and accessories are fistgloves, hand paddles, kickboard, leg float, and swim cap.


These gloves, which are made of latex, are different from the ordinary gloves in that they do not have sheaths for the individual fingers. When worn, a fistglove gives the hand the shape of a fist. Swimmers who practice the forward crawl often use fistgloves to enhance their feeling for water. During practice while the gloves are on, the open palms are deprived of the feel of the water. Once the gloves are taken off, the hands get a better feel of the rush of water at each stroke.

Hand Paddles:

These are plastic devices worn on the hands during practice to enhance the swimmer's speed, muscle buildup, or arm strength. The latter can be helped further if the paddles are used in conjunction with another swimming aid or accessory - the leg float. Some of the most commonly used types of hand paddles are the sculling and vortex paddles (for building upper body strength), freestyle paddles (to enhance a swimmer's performance in freestyle), and finger paddles (to enhance a swimmer's performance in any swimming stroke).


This is a flotation device used to develop or enhance the kicking action of a young swimmer or a beginner; for the more experienced swimmers, it can aid in refining the kicking technique. Kickboards can likewise help to strengthen a swimmer's legs. They may be used when practicing any of the swimming strokes.

Leg Float:

This is a piece of closed-cell foam made in the shape of the figure "8". It is an excellent training device for enhancing upper body strength and developing endurance. The float is placed between the legs in the crotch area. The purpose of this device is to let the swimmer focus on training only his/her arms, while providing support to the body without the need for kicking the legs.

This device is also sometimes called "pull buoy." However, the use of this term is often avoided when referring to the leg float, so as not to confuse (when only heard and not read) with "pool buoy," the floating plastic line used to mark a pool's separate lap lanes.

Swim Cap:

Also called "bathing cap," this accessory may be worn by both recreational and competitive swimmers. It is made of silicone or latex, and is generally used to keep the hair dry or protect the hair against the effects of the chlorine in the water. When used with ear plugs, a swim cap can also help keep water out of the ears. Swim caps are especially useful during long swimming sessions, when it is important to keep the swimmer's head warm.

Other swimming aids and accessories may be used depending on the needs of a swimmer. These include water wings (inflatable armbands), monofin, swim tube (inflatable lifebelt), and any of the swimming machines.

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