Swimming aids for adults – what is useful and really helps?

According to surveys by the DLRG (German Lifeguards’ Association), one out of four adults in Germany cannot swim. This may have different reasons, e.g. a missed swimming course as a child, fear of water or people coming from a culture where people don’t usually learn to swim. 

No matter what the exact reasons are for someone not being able to swim, most people affected have one thing in common: they want to do something about the situation.      

The ability to swim can save lives – either your own or someone else’s. Additionally many adult non-swimmers may be embarrassed to admit this to their peers and often conceal the fact that they cannot swim.

Besides non-swimmers, however, there are also many people who like to swim regularly, whether it is simply for exercise, for fitness reasons or for training. In training, it is common to train with swimming aids, for example, to improve one’s technique or endurance or to make swim training more efficient.

Swimming has also been proven helpful in the rehabilitation & health sector: swimming is considered to be particularly gentle on joints and ligaments, and at the same time it is excellent for building up muscles and improving fitness. Swimming is ideal for anyone who has experienced a longer period of restricted movement, for example due to an injury or for other reasons such as a slipped disc.

For all target groups, non-swimmers, swimming enthusiasts, the rehabilitation sector as well as athletes and triathletes, there are various swimming aids that make moving in the water easier.

Let’s take a look at what aids are available to make swimming (or learning to swim) easier or more efficient. 

Let’s start with learning to swim and see what physical aids are available and how useful they are

When children learn how to swim, it is perfectly normal to use physical aids. However, when it comes to adults learning to swim, there is often the fear of being ridiculed if aids are used, even though it is perfectly normal for them to be used during swim training.

First of all, a distinction must be made between water toys and swimming aids.

The former is probably available mainly at beach kiosks or swimming lakes, these are products such as inflatable animals, palm trees, chairs, air mattresses or water balls. They often bear only the CE mark or the EN 71-1 marking.

If a product is a tested buoyancy aid, it must bear the EN 13 138-1 marking – a safety standard according to which all aids for learning to swim must be thoroughly tested.

The following commercial aids can be found on the market:

Water wings

They are the classic swimming aid when children learn how to swim. Their main purpose is to give people buoyancy and keep them safely above water. Thus, in case of emergency, they keep you from drowning, for example, if people start panicking.

According to experts, they are rather in the way when learning to swim. They restrict the natural swimming movements of the arms in the water, and it is also difficult to get into the correct water position while wearing them.

There are also water wings for adults, but for the reasons just mentioned, we would rather advise against using them when learning to swim. 

The swimming noodle or pool noodle

The swimming noodle was originally only intended for use in aqua fitness but has now become widely accepted as an aid for swimming lessons. 

Both children and adults can rest their arms on it during swimming exercises on their stomachs and backs and may train their sense of balance in the water this way. It can be regarded as a useful aid for people learning how to swim as it gives them freedom of movement while providing sufficient buoyancy at the same time.

In the swim training of hobby and professional swimmers, swimming noodles are rarely used.

The swimming cushion

Many experts consider swimming cushions to be the best tool for learning how to swim. 

The cushions are usually made of cotton, which means that there are no plugs or valves, which, among other things, also ensures that they don’t rupture easily. 

Many models can be attached to the upper body with a strap, so you cannot lose them in the water. Arm movements are not restricted at any time and the body is automatically in the right swimming position.

Adults beware: many swimming pads are designed for children’s swimming lessons and only have a load capacity of 11 to 60 kilograms – however, there are also models specifically designed for older persons learning how to swim that can carry more weight. 

During regular training for advanced swimmers, this aid is not generally used, but for learning how to swim we can definitely recommend it.

The swimming board

The swimming board is probably the most well-known aid for water sports. 

While the swimming cushion is mainly an aid to create buoyancy and provide safety in the water, the swimming board provides a bit more, as it helps to learn or practice leg swimming. 

The swimming board can be used for any swimming position. If you clamp it between your legs, you can even practice arm swimming. 

It is an optimal training tool both for children and adults.

What about swimming goggles?

Besides swimsuits or trunks, goggles are the most important piece of equipment for experienced swimmers during training, as well as when swimming in recreational pools or open water. On the one hand, they protect the eyes from aggressive chlorine and suspended matter in the water, and on the other hand, good swimming goggles provide orientation in the pool and even more so in open water. 

For swimming beginners, swimming goggles are not advisable at first, because you should get used to being in the water with all your senses and learn to orient yourself in the water without swimming goggles – not without reason, for example, when getting one’s swimming badge, it is not allowed to wear goggles. Only when you feel safe in the water without swimming goggles, you should consider wearing them regularly.

Breathing aids for technique optimization

Correct water position and the timing of leg and arm movements are essential for a good swimming technique, especially for the crawl. Using a snorkel reduces coordinative elements and allows for concentrated practice. Since the head does not have to be turned for breathing, the swimmer may concentrate exclusively on arm technique, leg stroke and water position. 

The AMEO company has developed the Powerbreather, a patented swimming snorkel, to help professional and amateur athletes train to swim more effectively. Once it comes to optimizing swimming technique, the Powerbreather is the ideal support to quickly take a swimmer to the next level.

In addition, the Powerbreather is of course also suitable for snorkeling.

With the Powerbreather, you breathe virtually the same way underwater as you do on land, which makes it much easier to concentrate on your swimming technique or the underwater world while snorkeling. When swimming with the Powerbreather, you can train your swimming technique as well as your breathing technique. For this purpose, various attachments (SPEED VENTS) with different resistances are available. By the way, the Powerbreather can be used with all common swimming goggles.

Of course it can also be used in combination with other aids, e.g. with a swimming board or cushion.

If you want to try the Powerbreather as an effective support for your swim training, you can test this swimming snorkel for 90 days. Take a look at the online store (link). You can find out which Powerbreather is the right one for you with this test.

Where is the best place to buy swimming aids and what should you look out for?

There is a wide range of aids available in both specialist and online stores – we advise novice swimmers not to buy them second-hand or borrow them from friends, for example, as the material of older products is often damaged and the safety standards have also changed over the years.

When buying, you should not only pay attention to the CE mark – this is only a self-declaration of the industry. Much more important, however, is the GS mark, with the two letters standing for “tested safety” (German: “Geprüfte Sicherheit”).

Whether you buy in a store or order online is up to you – especially when buying swimming aids for adults, however, many seem to prefer to go online.

However, swimming aids for children should always be bought “offline”, as in this case it is very important that the children are involved in the selection process and feel comfortable with the aids.

Swim aids for training are often provided by clubs or trainers when booking a swimming technique course, for example. The Powerbreather is also used by some trainers for swim training. Nevertheless, it is advisable to purchase your own Powerbreather after testing it. Even if the mouthpiece is interchangeable and people can choose their preferred mouthpiece, having one’s own Powerbreather is certainly more hygienic and you can also take your own Powerbreather on vacation for snorkeling.

Care-instructions are very simple: rinse the Powerbreather with fresh water after each use and let it dry. To do this, simply remove the valve attachments (SPEED VENTS) at the upper end of the air tubes. 

At this point we would like to mention that buoyancy aids by no means offer safe protection against drowning – if at all, only the classic and certified life jacket can do that, keeping you afloat in the right position even if you faint, for example.

We expressly advise against teaching yourself to swim, as this would be far too risky. There are swimming courses for adults all over Germany and most other countries as well as swimming coaches who are specially trained to teach adults. 

If you are interested, simply inform yourself on the Internet about your region, we are sure you will find the right swimming course for you this way. Make sure that the courses accept a maximum of 10 people at the same time, as this is the only way to guarantee the necessary attention from the swim trainer.

No matter how, where and with which aids you want to learn how to swim, optimize your