Happy New Year Delaware Valley Master Swimmers!
I was really having a tough time coming up with a fitness topic for the New Year. Let's face it - post-holiday fitness advice has been done, re-done, and then done again. What more could I add that you haven't already heard, and frankly, don't want to hear again. If you're like me, you may continue to swim over the holidays as much as you did the rest of the year, but the food decisions? This past holiday season I had a hard time resisting those calorie laden goodies, so didn't feel I should be giving anyone advice. Instead of fitness advice I thought I would share a list of fitness items/products that I couldn't seem to do without in 2013 and one fitness item that I'm planning to purchase in 2014. FYI - these items are not listed in any particular order of importance, neither am I compensated by the companies that manufacture or sell them. This is just me sharing some of my favorites with you.
Hope you had an enjoyable holiday and see you in the pool in 2014!
- Finis Agility Paddles
These paddles are the only paddles I've consistently used and liked. Info from the Finis website states, "The Agility Paddles strapless design effortlessly teaches swimmers the correct palm positive position for every stroke." The design is simple, with a hole for your thumb which allows the paddle to be strapless and remain in place as long as you maintain an early vertical forearm position; the paddle stays in place as long as you maintain good technique. The ergonomic shape is designed to fit the natural contour of the hand and there are now three sizes to choose from. I have an early version (now medium, two dots), but recently one of my swim mates mixed up his paddles (small, one dot) with mine after our Sunday swim, so I swam with his for two weeks until I could return them. Guess what, I liked his as well as mine and ended up purchasing a smaller pair as well. A couple of other plusses: the thumb hold is comfortable, you can use these paddles for all four strokes, no straps to break, and easy to pack for travel. Try them out, but give them at least a month to adapt to the strapless design. I bought my husband a pair and he's now hooked on them as well. These are available at Toad Hollow Athletics in Paoli, PA.
- Speedo Optical Vanquisher Goggles and Endurance Workout Suits
I used to wear contacts (now glasses) and my husband also wears glasses. For a long time I wore my contacts when I swam, but about four years ago a friend suggested I try corrective (optical) goggles. My eyesight isn't too bad, but I couldn't read the workout board without contacts, so I purchased a pair of Speedo Optical Vanquishers. Love them and now my husband uses them as well. Speedo has the following Diopters available: -1.5, -2.0, -2.5, -3.0, -3.5, -4.0, -4.5, -5.0, -5.5, -6.0, -7.0, and -8.0, and offers two anti-fog with UV protection versions - clear and tinted. I use both, clear for indoor and tinted for outdoor, and like them equally as well. One other nice feature - the cost is reasonable, around $20 per pair. I think some of the other major swim manufacturers may offer optical googles, but I haven't tried any other brand yet? I've ordered these from Speedo online and Toad Hollow carries most/all of the Diopters that Speedo makes.
Speedo also makes great workout suits made from their Endurance+ fabric. Bottom line - these suits last a long, long time! Fabric is designed to last 20 times long than conventional swimwear fabrics, offers great shape retention and comfort because of the four-way stretch technology (who knew fabric could be so technical), and resists sagging and bagging (don't need any more of that)! Fabric is 50% Polyester and 50% PBT, provides freedom of motion, and has front and back liners. You may get sick of the suit long before the fabric gives out. I purchased a couple of these suits last year from Toad Hollow, but these should be broadly available at swim/fitness stores.
- Hammer Nutrition products: Heed, Hammer Gel, Recoverite and Perpetuem Solids
Great products and the customer service folks are really nice and knowledgeable. Hammer is also a USMS sponsor offering free samples and advice at the National meets and the High Performance Swim Camp.
Heed is a high-energy electrolyte drink designed to provide steady, consistent energy, buffer lactic acid and prevent cramping. The flavor are good and the product is gluten free, MSG free, vegan friendly (not sure what this means?) and Kosher certified.
Hammer Gels are rapid energy that lasts and are made with real fruit and wholesome ingredients. These are also gluten and MSG free and Kosher Dairy Certified.
Perpetuem Solids are a convenient, portable, high-quality solid fuel that are easy to chew and digest. These are best for consistent, stable energy; they're designed primarily to augment your use of the liquid fuels, helping you reach your targeted hourly caloric total during exercise/competition, especially that lasting more than two hours. Perpetuem Solids are great for all-day and/or multi-day swim meets where you may not have the opportunity or desire to eat. The solid tabs are a little chalky tasting at first, but the flavor is very natural and the consistency improves as you chew. Perpetuem Solids were a game-changer for me this year!
Finally, Recoverite is Hammer's Glutamine-fortified recovery drink. Back in September I wrote about the importance of recovery and Recoverite is my favorite recovery drink. It is formulated to minimize post-exercise soreness, rebuild muscle tissue and restore muscle glycogen. Also made with natural ingredients, Recoverite is gluten and MSG free and Kosher Dairy Certified, and it tastes great! Remember, the sooner the better - try to consume your recovery drink within 30 minutes after your workout. Some Hammer Nutrition products can be found locally at Bike shops, but they are easy to order online direct from Hammer Nutrition.
- Ibex Wool Clothing
This one is going to sound crazy, crazy, but I love my Ibex winter weight wool pants for indoor swim meets and winter swim practices. The fabric is 21 micron Merino wool with nylon and spandex blended for stretch. The fabric is soft, washable, sustainable and non-flammable - won't hold a flame and won't melt like synthetic fabrics and fibers. The primary reason I love them so much is that wool can get wet (think damp suit) and still keep you really warm! Easy to wash and will dry out nicely in hotel rooms overnight. Lots of manufactures make Merino wool clothing now, but I bought my online from Ibex Outdoor Clothing and they are still going strong after five years! Some local outdoor shops carry Ibex and another brand, Smart Wool may also be available, or you can order online.
- The Eney Buoy
This is an item I'm thinking about purchasing for 2014. The Eney Buoy is a dramatic improvement over the traditional pull buoy because it allows the buoyancy to be adjusted. There is a screw cap at the end of each blow molded cavity and when the cap is removed you can fill the buoy with liquid. This allows an increased work load and a more intense training capacity; ideal for early and midseason workouts. When the cavities are left empty the “Eney Buoy” is very buoyant. Times will be fast when the “Eney Buoy” is empty - looking for this after the holidays! This makes it perfect for tapering or to enhance the correct body positioning you will use in a race. With the ability to change buoyancy, it mimics the sea. This product will keep you in the water longer. And it will give you the opportunity to make your workouts faster or harder, but certainly more enjoyable. In the very least, it can carry your refreshment in open water training. Really, Eney thinks of everything! Check out Eneybuoy or Eney Jones online for ordering information.