Monday, May 21, 2012

Paddle Reviews

I know there are a ton of paddles reviews out there, but I got two new sets of paddles this weekend and now that I have 5 sets of various paddles, I figured I might as well throw out my two cents.  After today's masters workout, I did an experiment that hopefully demonstrates the amount of force the paddles make on each pull.  I did 200 meters of each paddle type with pull buoy and ankle strap (to completely eliminate kicking from the equation), swimming at about 50% of effort, and counted each arm stroke and noted the time.  Each paddle I'll rate on a 5 star system (5 being the best). Here are the results:

1) Large Tyr Hand Paddles (Black).   200M stroke count: 139 in 3:14
I've had these since High School and they have always been my favorite.  When the rubber straps got brittle and broke years ago I replaced it with a bungee cord and cut the ends off.  Lasts a lot longer.  These are my favorite because they provide the most pull and while many people complain of shoulder strain, I don't get the strain, I like the amount of power it makes my shoulders go through.  I also am forced to really hold a glide and do an effective catch and pull.  I tried finding these paddles online and could not find them by TYR, but found similar ones from Kiefer. Rating: 5 stars
Trying out the Freestyler paddles this morning at
SLC Sports Complex Outdoor 50 M pool.
2) Finis Freestyler Paddles (provided by Aquagear):  200M stroke count: 156 in 3:26

These are cool cause they're very narrow and don't put a great amount of strain on your shoulder.  They're quite narrow at the tip and for me my hand was a little large than the paddle at the finger tips, but not a big deal.  I liked the way they felt on entering the water.  They have a little fin on the bottom of the paddle to help keep the hand in a forward facing motion upon entering the water.  I liked these, and also liked the single strap for the middle finger so they are quick to get on and off.  After today's training session I'd have to give a rating of 4 stars.  Thanks to Aquagear for allowing me to try these out and provide some feedback!

Lynn Kubasek beautifully models the new
Agility Paddles provided by Finis at
Jamie's swim camp.
3) Finis Agility Paddles: 200 M stroke count:  148 in 3:26.

I got these from the Finis representatives at Jamie's Swim Camp.  These are really cool cause they don't have any straps at all.  You slide your thumb into the hole and your hand fits into a grove which keeps pressure on your hand the whole time.  I really liked these.  The pressure was evenly distributed on the hand and I liked that I didn't feel any pressure on my fingers because of absence of the strap.  As you can see my stroke count was relatively high compared to the freestyler.  Rating: 4 1/2 stars

4) Finger Paddles: 200M stroke count: 164 in 3:30.

I like these because they give you a slight feel that you are pulling, but the pull effect is felt just on the fingers.  It's barely a paddle.  These occasionally come off if you get a real ugly reentry, but it's rare enough to not be a big deal.  They're easy to get on/off because of the single strap.  Rating: 3 1/2 stars

4) PT paddles:  200M stroke count: 202 in 4:16.

These are great for drills, but they're not really paddles in the same sense as the others.  They're Anti - paddles.  They force you to really think about the mechanics of each and every movement in your stroke.  If you just swim with them and don't think, you'll hate them.  Which is probably why I don't like them too much.  I'm a little lazy mentally.  I know, that's not a good thing.  Rating: 2 1/2 stars

5) Baseline:  No paddles - 180 in 3:36

Occasionally Finis gives us a real flop, like the Aquatracker (which many of my friends have trouble with), or the fulcrum paddle, but the agility paddles I tried out today really strengthened my faith in their ability to come out with cutting edge stuff that doesn't suck.  And as far as the Aquatracker, I'm sure the next gen of it will be much better.

Today's workout:  1200 yards warmup
800 - 8 x 100's free/back/breast/drill
400 - 4 x 100's free/back/IM/breast
200 - 4 x 50's kick on :55

(2600 yards)
Then moved to 50 M pool and did:

100 easy
2800 - 4 x 7 x 100's - various pulling, kicking and stroke work.  I was lucky to just keep up, so I was all over the place.

Then did my own thing:

200 easy
1800 free
1200 - 6 x 200's pulling review with over a minute of rest between sets and to record stats.
800 - 2 x 400's with my two fav paddles
200 easy

7100 M + 2600 yards = 10,350 yards total

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