New to swimming? You may enjoy the low-impact fitness that swimming affords you—it's a great workout, easy on the body and can fill you with addictive endorphins that make you want to go back.
Show up at the pool, though, and you'll see the more experienced swimmers using a variety of tools while they swim laps. What good is that toy doing? What is that on their hands? Why aren't they just swimming?
While "just swimming" should make up a majority of your workout, all of those tools have a purpose, and all will help you swim more efficiently—and as a result, faster—if incorporated correctly.
Here's a look at those common swim aids:
This foam piece is shaped like the number 8. If you haven't seen this in use, you probably have no clue how one is supposed to use it.
The pull buoy is placed between your legs (usually your thighs, but sometimes your ankles). It serves as a flotation device for your legs, which allows you to concentrate solely on your arms while you swim.
The pull buoy allows you to work on your upper body strength as well as perfecting your swimming technique, since the legs are suspended in the correct place.