It doesn’t matter why we swim — for health, for enjoyment, for a challenge — there’s usually one thing we can all agree on: that swimming is a way to drown out the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This is especially true right now when most of us are glued to our smartphones. But finding that inner peace isn’t always as easy as simply jumping into the pool. In fact, as many of you will probably have discovered, swimming pools can be just as distracting as any other place… perhaps even more so!

When you’re swimming at a slower pace or doing a warm-up or aerobic work, it’s easy to let the mind wander and completely lose track of where you are. Of course, on top of that, there’s the surrounding noise, the attempt to focus on breathing, stroke, and rhythm altogether, and the constant clock watching (you can’t forget that appointment / that meeting / to pick the kids up from school!). These are all very common distractions that practically every swimmer has experienced at one point or another.

Underwater picture of a pool

Ask some people, and they’ll probably recommend ‘mindful swimming’; the act of training your brain to better handle both the physical and mental distractions of the sport. But that’s often easier said than done! Many swimmers will find it better to take a technological approach to minimising distractions.

Make the most of your time in the pool with these five distraction-removing gadgets for swimmers:

 

1. Smartwatch

A basic waterproof smartwatch is all you need to quickly take a glance at the time as your arm passes over your head, but perhaps even more beneficial to swimmers would be a smartwatch that doubles as a swim tracker. Swim trackers offer more dedicated support for swimmers, monitoring pace, strokes, and total duration so that you don’t have to. Some advanced watches even calculate your stroke efficiency (SWOLF score), too!

Poolmate watch

With a smartwatch or swim tracker, you can focus completely on your technique… or even let your mind wander, if that’s how you swim best! These gadgets remove the need for you to count every lap and keep track of your times, giving you the freedom to perform to the best of your ability. Believe it or not, good swim tech doesn’t have to be expensive. Explore these Nike Discounts to find the best deals online.

2. MP3 Player

One of Rebecca Adlington’s top tips is to swim with someone else. The four-time Olympic medal winner likens it to going to the gym with a friend, claiming you’re more likely to train with someone to motivate you. It also helps to make swimming training less boring! The problem is that the more people that are added to the mix, the greater the distraction, especially when there’s mumbled talking all around you.

Swimmer putting on a waterproof headset

The solution? Drown it all out. Swimming MP3 players make it so you’ll have no noise distractions; it’s just you and your favourite songs. These can be songs that motivate, songs that inspire, or songs that help you keep your stroke rhythm. You can simply tune out and focus 100% on what you’re doing. Look for waterproof bone conduction MP3 players, which transmit sound without the need for headphones!

3. Earbuds

Sometimes the distraction isn’t that you can hear what’s going on around you… it’s that you CAN’T hear! This is especially problematic if you’re working with a coach who’s providing real-time feedback to help you improve your technique. Blocked ears make it difficult to hear what’s being said, meaning you’re not only losing the value of working with a coach but are also getting distracted and losing your rhythm.

Earbuds help to prevent blocked ears, but also make it difficult to hear anything. That’s why many swimmers are now using zero acoustic loss earbuds. These special gadgets protect the ears from the water (with the added bonus of reducing the risk of ‘swimmer’s ear’) without any sound loss. This helps to keep your ears water-free, allowing you to focus 100% on what your coach is saying as you swim.

4. GPS

Open water swimming presents even more challenges for swimmers. While there are still noise distractions to be dealt with, there is the added distraction of needing to stay on course too. To counter this swimming GPS devices can simply be attached to your swim cap. The advantage of this is that the device will maintain a better connection to the satellite than GPS smartwatches which are submerged underwater.

If you pre-programme a swimming route, the device will provide audible signals to help keep you on track, without you needing to manually assess your location. In the words of Dory, you can ‘just keep swimming’! With these swimming GPS devices there’s also the added bonus of being able to view your route afterwards, providing you with the information you need to enhance your open water skills.

5. Compass

If you’re partial to a bit of open water swimming but don’t feel like you need a GPS device, a compass is the next best thing to help you stay on track without having to manually check where you are and lose your momentum. It’s like having your own personal tour guide swimming alongside you, keeping an eye out for where you are, and where you need to be so that you can focus exclusively on your technique.

Swimmer in the Channel

Swimming compasses come built into special goggles and overlay a series of lights into your line of vision. These lights not only indicate your pre-defined swimming course but also show how far off course you are. This allows you to head back in the right direction easily and effortlessly. You can also use the compass to stay in a straight line, minimising deviations and helping you to achieve faster times. Although this technology is relatively new it has a lot of promise.

The Rise in Sporting Technology

Minimising distractions, whether you are an elite or low-level swimmer, means you can have enhanced focus on technique. It’s likely most people will always have drifts in focus when swimming, and why not? It is an activity that promotes a freeness of thought. However, being able to remove the irritating barriers to concentration like “I’ve forgotten how many lengths I’ve done”, “what’s my coach saying” and “where the hell am I” can only be a good thing. It paves the way for awareness of stroke, pace, rhythm and breathing.


With an Aspire Solent swim you will have a Kayaker as a guide so you can leave your compass goggles and GPS devices behind!

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