best snorkels for lap swimming

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The Athlete Approved Guide to Using a Snorkel for Lap Swimming

The hands down best piece of equipment to use for lap swimming is a snorkel!

Snorkels help swimmers improve their technique, exercise without worry of missing a breath, and increase lung capacity.

Lap swimmers should use a “center-mounted” snorkel. These go from your mouth, over the center of your face, to your forehead. They consist of a plastic pipe, rubber mouthpiece, purge valve (on some models) and an adjustable padded head strap to accommodate all head shapes.

They do not go to the side like a traditional snorkel. A traditional snorkel goes from your mouth to the side of your head. It creates a lot of drag and is not conducive for lap swimming.

Finis Snorkel Swim
Center-Mounted Snorkel for Lap Swimming

The best center-mounted snorkel fits comfortably, creates little drag, and is stable for lap swimming. There are many different types, so use this buyer’s guide to determine the best one for you. We cover the top 6 best snorkels for lap swimming, plus why and how to use one.

Our Athlete Approved guide to using a snorkel for lap swimming includes:

BEST OVERALL SNORKEL FOR LAP SWIMMING: Finis Original Swimmer’s Snorkel

Our top overall pick for the best snorkel for lap swimming is the Finis Original Swimmer’s Snorkel. Swimmers associate Finis with snorkels, just like they associate pools with water.

The team at Finis invented the center-mounted snorkel and have been perfecting it since 1995. The Original Swimmer’s Snorkel is a Finis best seller.

This snorkel has a one-way purge valve which allows water to flow out of it. The head bracket is adjustable to fit comfortably on your head.

It is a must have item for any swimmer looking to improve technique and enhance lung capacity.

You can add additional toys to this snorkel, such as the snorkel Cardio Cap and Dry Top. The Cardio Cap helps increase lung capacity by increasing your workload by 40%. The Dry Top assists you in keeping the inner tube dry.

Finis makes this snorkel in two color options: yellow and pink. There is also a specific children’s size snorkel called the Jr Swimmer’s Snorkel (listed as our top pick for kids).

BEST COMPETITIVE SNORKEL FOR LAP SWIMMING: Finis Stability Snorkel

The Finis Stability Snorkel is our top Athlete Approved pick for competitive and advanced swimmers. It is perfect for experienced swimmers looking for a snorkel that they can use for both drills and tough training.

This newest Finis edition of the snorkel is designed without a head bracket and purge valve. This gives it an extremely comfortable compact fit. It curves just right around the head, helping you cut through the water at high speeds with correct body position.

The streamlined design of the Stability Snorkel keeps it in place during flip turns. Most snorkels move side to side on turns and when pushing off the wall. This one holds steady.

It has 5 adjustable lengths that make it super comfortable. When we tested it swimming at full speed with fins and paddles, this snorkel lives up to its name: “Stability Snorkel”!

Fins makes this snorkel in black, white, teal, and yellow.

BEST SIMPLISTIC SNORKEL FOR LAP SWIMMING: Speedo Bullet Head Snorkel

The Speedo Bullet Head Snorkel has a simple design. It features a padded headband with an adjustable strap for comfort. This snorkel gives you stability when swimming at any speed. The low profile shape also maximizes visibility.

It has a removable mouth piece, which makes it easy to clean. It does not have a purge valve, which is great for intermediate and advanced swimmers. Beginner swimmers should be sure to have enough air in their lungs to clear it should it fill with water.

Speedo makes this snorkel in solid colors of charcoal, shocking lime, and white. You can also find it in floral and red/white/navy, but expect to pay a few extra dollars for those designs.

BEST LOOKING SNORKEL FOR LAP SWIMMING: Michael Phelps Focus Swim Snorkel

Our pick for the best looking snorkel for lap swimming is the Michael Phelps Focus Swim Snorkel. Some say, when you look good you feel good! This snorkel is endorsed by the greatest swimmer of all-time himself, Michael Phelps.

The Focus Swim Snorkel is not all great looks. It is also a solid pick for beginners to advanced swimmers.

The difference of color in tube and strap give it a uniquely and beautiful contrast.

Aqua Sphere makes this snorkel in black, blue, coral, neon, and purple.

BEST KID’S SNORKEL FOR LAP SWIMMING: Finis Original Swimmer’s Snorkel Junior

It is no surprise Finis populates 3 of the best snorkels for lap swimming on our list! The Finis Original Swimmer’s Snorkel is our top overall pick for kiddos. Unlike many other snorkels, it also comes in this specific junior size for children.

The Finis Original Swimmer’s Snorkel Junior for kids delivers all of the features of the adult size. It is time tested and proven to be a great fit for children.

Children should utilize this training tool to develop healthy technical habits from a young age.

The junior size is suitable for kids up to a young teen. Some smaller adults have found it to be a great fit as well.

Finis makes this snorkel in their patented yellow and black color.

BEST BUDGET SNORKEL FOR LAP SWIMMING: Zionor Snorkel

The Zionor Snorkel is our snorkel on a budget pick. Whether you’re challenging yourself to swim a tough workout or just going for a quick technique session, this snorkel helps you get the job done.

It may not have all the bells and whistles of other snorkels on the market, but it is a solid pick. The comfortable small pad helps it stay in place and provide maximum comfort.

Zionor makes this snorkel in five colors: black, blue, red, yellow, and white.

Who Should Use a Snorkel

The answer is all swimmers.

Over the past two decades, snorkels for lap swimming are commonplace at the pool. Everyone from beginner to advanced swimmers should be use a snorkel. They are also helpful for swimmers with injuries.

Freestyle side breathing can be tough for a brand new swimmer! Beginner swimmers who have yet to master breathing find comfort in knowing they can breathe freely with a snorkel.

Beginner swimmers should use it to learn their optimal body line and work on elevating their hips. This piece of equipment is awesome for drills, because you can clearly see your arms’ entry point, catch, and finish uninterrupted. 

Hundredths of a second can decide if you will win or lose a swim race. Advanced swimmers use snorkels to eliminate the breathing motion and perfect other areas of their technique.

Advanced swimmers should place additional emphasis on their body rotation. For hip-driven freestyle, swimmers should focus on extending with their catch arm while rotating from their core. Sprinters looking to develop shoulder-driven and body-driven freestyle should use this equipment in conjunction with fins and paddles to accentuate hip elevation and explosive shoulder connectivity. Using a snorkel allows you to keep your head still while working on these finer technical points.

Snorkels are also a great tool for lap swimmers who have neck and back injuries. They allow you to keep your head and neck still. The good news is there is no shame in using a snorkel 100% of the time when lap swimming.

Why Use a Snorkel

The top 3 Athlete Approved reasons you should use a snorkel to improve your swimming:

  1. Uninterrupted technique for added focus.
  2. Improves body positioning.
  3. Builds aerobic capacity.

A snorkel allows swimmers to focus on their technique uninterrupted by breathing motions. That is one less thing to worry about! 

Primarily used during freestyle training, snorkels help in correcting head position while heightening hand awareness on the entry and catch phases of the stroke. In addition, its center construction allows swimmers to maintain a full range of motion across a variety of different strokes and drills. 

The restrictive airflow is beneficial for building lung capacity, and building VO2 Max, a crucial component of swimming efficiently. VO2 Max is an individual’s maximum oxygen capacity during exercises of increasing intensity.

Snorkels can also be used to increase lung capacity. Combining training sessions with other breathing equipment such as the PowerBreathe Plus will further push swimmers’ hypoxic limits.

How to Use A Snorkel

Place the snorkel over your head. Secure it by pulling on the ends of the rubber straps to ensure a snug fit around your head with the head padding centered on your forehead and the snorkel mounted center.

Insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and make a closed seal around the rubber gasket. Breathe through your mouth, and refrain from breathing through your nostrils! Start by practicing using the snorkel on land, then in the water without submerging the entire snorkel.

Snorkel Pro Tips

When a snorkel fills with water, expel the water by blowing out in a rapid burst. This will clear it and allow you to breath through it again.

Beginners should begin with a snorkel with a purge valve like the Finis Original Swimmer’s Snorkel for easier water clearance. Once you master the technique, you can build up to one without, such as the Finis Stability Snorkel or Michael Phelps Focus Swim Snorkel

Mastering a flipturn with a snorkel takes practice. Beginner swimmers can start with a nose clip to plug their nose when using a snorkel during a flipturn. This will help save enough air in your lungs to purge the water.

More competitive swimmers can make snorkel training more challenging by restricting airflow further with a snorkel cardio cap.

Athlete Approved Tip: Be mindful of how many inches of the snorkel extends out of the water. Olympic Coach Mike Bottom teaches that 2+ inches of snorkel showing above water is too high when using a snorkel. When only a couple of inches break the surface of the water, your head is in the correct down position.

Snorkel History Lesson

Created and patented by Finis in 1995, the center-mounted snorkel is currently a staple for swimmers looking to improve their stroke technique. 

Finis founders John Mix and Pablo Morales are innovators within the swimming community. After developing and popularizing the monofin, they developed a snorkel that could be used for competitive swimmers.

After receiving immediate validation from University of California Coach Nort Thorton, it became popularized around the world.

original snorkel prototype
Finis snorkel prototype in 1995.

While Finis is the original creator and manufacture of the snorkel, you can find many companies who put their own spin on it. Our top overall pick is still Finis!

The Athlete Approved Guide to Using a Snorkel for Lap Swimming Conclusion

Snorkels can be used by any swimmer for a variety of applications and purposes. Use a snorkel in your current training sessions to push yourself towards more efficient and speedy swimming! 

Whether you are training for fitness or competition, it is essential to have in your swim bag. Fins and paddles are super helpful tools for lap swimming, but snorkels are the best training tool.

Let us know if you agree with our Athlete Approved picks for the best snorkels for lap swimming. Post in our comments and on social media! We would also love to hear your recommendations.

See our Athlete Approved Buying Guides for:

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