Snorkels are one of the best training aids/swim tools you can use to help improve your various swimming styles and keep your form consistent.
From your front crawl balance, rotation, technique and overall efficiency, being able to adjust the focus from your breathing to purely your movement can boost your overall performance.
If you struggle with breathing in the water, then these will also put that issue aside so you can focus on form and complete longer sets.
Ollie Willis tests four options in our round-up of the best snorkels for lap swimming below.
What is the purpose of a swim snorkel?
A swimming snorkel basically helps you stay in the water for longer and takes the pressure off your breathing. In the process this will help you build all the necessary skills, muscle memory and endurance needed to beat your personal best.
Is it good to swim laps with a snorkel?
Laps are especially suited to snorkel swimming as you don’t need to pause to take a breather. This means you can mentally prepare yourself for an intense workout session.
As the snorkel tends to sit in the center of your head as well, this means your technique should stay balanced without veering to your dominant side, which will help long-term.
The best snorkels for lap swimming
Speedo Center Snorkel
Visually the snorkel stands out in the pool with its bright camouflage color scheme, and the mouthpiece also has added comfort. Out of the four tested this snorkel felt by far the heaviest in the water, even though it has a lightweight tag.
However, its weight could also be a benefit because it acts as a focal point for your stroke in the pool, which in turn gives the body more balance. This snorkel felt as though it brought stroke flaws to the fore, and forced you to make positive changes, such as adding more rotation, and gives you time to think about your stroke. But, overall during the testing period, you couldn’t help but think it felt particularly bulky compared to the other three here.
Finis Freestyle Snorkel
The most original design from the four tested, and it felt like the lightest in the pool. At first we thought this was going to take a bit of getting used to, but even before the end of the first length we were able to concentrate on our stroke. Its streamlined shaped-design was created to maximise stroke efficiency, and it does force you to keep your head still, and from there it promotes better body alignment in the water.
With its shape you could be forgiven for thinking that it should only be used by the more advance swimmer, but we didn’t feel this was the case. With its increased stability it does take a few lengths to get used to, but after that it was easy to use and allowed you to break down your stroke. It did really feel like it made technique seem much smoother and efficient.
Zoggs Center Line Snorkel
Never used a snorkel before and looking for something basic and comfortable? Then the Zoggs Center Line could be your best bet. Following a very classic design, it does exactly what it says on the tin, and is a snorkel that’ll help develop a novice’s swim stroke. It also comes with a nose clip to help those who have not used a snorkel before.
It is also designed to benefit a more advanced swimmer looking to build strength in their stroke and create further cardiovascular gains. The snorkel is designed in a style that’s been around for a while but is proven to be popular among swimmers and triathletes alike. It’s a good idea with the Zoggs snorkel (as well as the others) to make sure that you have applied a fit to suit you in the pool; it can be a bit of challenge with all of the adjustments that can be made.
Michael Phelps Focus Swim Snorkel
If it’s good enough for Michael Phelps then it’s good enough for us. Phelps has teamed up with Aqua Sphere to design a really good looking bit of kit. It stands out mainly because of its triangular, hydrodynamic design, which is to promote more rotation in your stroke.
And it’s in the water you feel that quality that it’s been designed with. The head bracket is the most comfortable with integrated cushioning and the snorkel is kept in place, which means it can perform at higher speeds without coming out of position. The fact that it doesn’t move means that you are forced to keep your head still, that in itself is an automatic gain when it comes to race day. It’s a bit more user-friendly than the other and there’s no time lost in setting it up to suit you.
The mouth piece is also a little different to the others, with an extra extension to a part that sits on the roof of your mouth which is designed to reduce jaw fatigue.
Oliver Willis is a former national level swimmer, and a British University medalist, who has now turned to triathlon.
Best snorkel deals
Arena Swim Snorkel Pro III
A one-size-fits-all design, the Arena Pro aims to promote a good head position in the water, with an improved strap design that should make it easy and functional to use. A one-way valve prevents water ingress and the soft silicone mouthpiece should feel comfortable in use.
AquaLung Air Dry
This snorkel from AquaLung has a large bore curve geometry with a lower reservoir complete with two purge valves to avoid any water splash entering the mouthpiece, which is made from soft silicone that aims to provide an easy and comfortable bite. The ‘flexothane tube’ is designed to be supple yet durable.
Zone3 Front Facing Swim Drill Snorkel
This reasonably-priced Zone3 snorkel has an adjustable headpiece and a soft mouthpiece which should be comfortable and functional in use. Ideal for focusing on specific stroke movements.
Decathlon Nabaiji Center-Mounted Snorkel
Aimed at intermediate swimmers, this centre-mounted snorkel from Decathlon is designed to help improve swim technique. Decathlon claim that the sizing is especifally primed for thinner faces.
Fully adjustable and visible in the water, this Orca training accessory should help you to prioritise focussing on your drills and swim technique in the water.
See our favorite swim hand paddles for triathlon training for more high-quality kit.