As I mentioned in my powerbreather review, until recently the last time I wore a snorkel was as a child heading off for a day of exploring a local beach. Of course, back then we didn’t have ones made specifically for swimmers. I have seen more and more swimmers start to use them in the pool and I decided to get one myself. As with most of my training gear, I kept an eye out and eventually picked one up for a good price. Since introducing it to my training it has become a staple. My kids even love putting it on to play with it and I picked up another snorkel for my wife as it made big changes to her frontcrawl when she wore it.
A unique feature of this snorkel is its ability to rotate around the headpiece. This is a brilliant idea. Not only can I comfortably move it away from my mouth if I need to talk, I can move it so that its completely out of my field of vision, if I wanted that for some reason. Its ability to rotate makes it easy to store in my kit bag. It also results in an interesting effect when swimming, if there is any head movement it will wobble. It is in no danger of coming out of my mouth or detaching from my head, but it is unnerving and makes me pause and really focus on keeping my head still. A downside is that this wobble can also happen when I start swimming if I don’t do so by facing down the pool and dropping straight in (so I have to go underwater staring at the pool floor). This took some getting used to as I normally am watching the clock and “slip & glide” with my head entering the water sideways (so I would be looking at one of the pool walls for a moment before rotating to my front).
Initially I found the snorkel a bit uncomfortable against my head, but I realised that unlike goggles, making the strap tighter doesn’t make it fit any better and it only had to be tight enough to stay in place. It looks like the headpiece can move up or down the snorkel, but I haven’t figured out how to move it. It doesn’t really matter though it has fitted everyone in my family without any adjustment.
Tumble turns & Streamline
It took a few goes to get used to the tumbles and streamlining. I found that a very good streamline means that its placed nicely between my arms. I also had to ensure that my turns were straight in and out without any excessive lateral movements to prevent the wobble mentioned above. Unfortunately, when doing touch/open turns I’m a bit stuck as I can only put my head in as I would for the “slip and glide” start, or straight back looking for the ceiling following my hand. It is easy to counter once gliding and again it helps focus on excessive head movements underwater.
The top of the snorkel limits the air intake a little, not as much as the powerbreather, just enough to let you know that it’s there. The bottom has an extra valve and space below the mouthpiece which seems to help catch small amounts of water that might get in the top. This really works as I can see little bits of water in it as I swim.
Unlike the Finis snorkel I will be reviewing next, Arena don’t claim that this snorkel will work for all four strokes. However, one of the diagrams on the packet suggests that it can be used for butterfly, or else one of the characters has a pretty freaky looking freestyle, once I saw this I knew I had to give it a go. I was a little worried wearing it with fly, I try not to go too deep when swimming it, but that doesn’t mean I’m shallow enough to not inhale water. It felt odd keeping my head in a position that I figured wouldn’t put it too deep, and for some reason my arm entry felt very different. Other than that, it was a complete success and certainly felt faster and easier than if I had been swimming it normally.
Following the advice of a youtube swimming channel I used it for some breaststroke drills and it worked a charm. My head would still come a little out of the water for these drills, but only up to forehead or eye level so I got much more out of the drill than I would have without it.
Of course, I also used it for frontcrawl drills, kick and swimming. It really allowed me to focus on body position and rotation.
|Easy fitting||Can wobble if I start or touch turn a certain way|
|Can swivel when not swimming|
|Wobbles if head is unsteady|
|Valve on the bottom catches small amounts of water|