Swimming Aids : The Definitive Guide
Whether you’re planning some seaside holidays or a paddle at your local baths, you might be overwhelmed by the variety of swimming accessories available. Don’t sweat it. We’ve selected some of the best swimming aids for kids and grown-ups that will help you progress in your swimming. And they’ll also make for an enjoyable swimming session.
- We’ve kept three points in mind whilst selecting the items below:
- Support (buoyancy)
- Promoting water confidence
Best for baby
The main swimming aid for the littlest on the list is all about keeping their heads up—and giving parents’ arms a break! The baby float seat is a classic. It is essentially an inflatable ring with a built-in, flexible seat. Your baby sits in the centre, with their bottom submerged in the water and their head and arms above.
They must, of course, always be supervised when in their seat. But they still have a lot of freedom to kick their legs and splash hands. You can move them around any depth of water you feel comfortable in, as the seat will always keep them sitting on the surface. Nabaji makes a bright yellow one that has handles for keeping hold of your baby’s float.
Tip top toddlers
As babies grow and become more mobile, they benefit from the chance to paddle and explore the shallows. It builds their confidence and develop their understanding of how the water supports their body. These two swimming aids for toddlers will support that growth.
- The Puddle Jumper is a great option for kids just getting accustomed to standing, sitting and splashing in the water unsupported. This US Coast Guard-certified swimming aid for toddlers buckles on around the chest. It has integrated armbands for extra buoyancy. They come in a great range of characters and colours.
- For kids who want more freedom to move around, backboards give full range of motion for both arms and legs. Backboards also fasten with buckles around the chest, but unlike the Puddle Jumper, the floatation part is on the back instead of the front of the body. Turtle Pack makes a completely adorable version that turns your tot into a dashing terrapin. A neoprene vest keeps kids warm in all waters. Stacking shells adjust the buoyancy aid as your child’s skill progresses.
Older children may be more confident in the water. But tweens and teens still need to be safe according to their ability. Here are three great options for older children’s swimming aids.
- The classic pool noodle has to be number one on the list for value, versatility and fun. It supports the swimmer on the front or back, and it allows them to use both arms and legs. It’s an excellent buoyancy aid as well, being made of a plastic foam full of tiny bubbles, so it pops to the top of the water no matter what. And of course, there’s no better way to have a seahorse race than astride your trusty pool noodle.
- Kids who want some freedom but few restrictions can use a swim vest or jacket. Different brands come in sizes from toddler to teen. One of the most loved by parents, Limmys, sizes up to age 9.
Swim fins aren’t a buoyancy aid, but they are great swimming aids for children who are a bit more advanced. Zoggs has a colourful range of reliable quality fins that are fun to use. Kids will love how they power themselves through the water quickly. They can be used for training the strokes and also just for imaginative fun.
Just like kids, adult swimmers have a broad range of abilities in the water, from beginners to experts. So they can benefit from some similar equipment. Pool noodles are brilliant for a lazy and relaxing swan around the deep end, for instance! For more deliberate progress, we recommend these swimming aids for adults:
- Swim vests. They aren’t just for kids. This one from Konfidence is made expressly to give adults…well, confidence! It has an adjustable (and removable) strap that goes through the legs so it stays in place—no riding up around your ears. And it has removable flotation panels, so it’s perfect for gradual improvement. The hi-vis back panel makes it a fantastic option for snorkelers or other wild water explorers.
- If you’re seeking swimming aids for adults that help develop strength and stamina, consider a pull buoy. This hourglass shaped wedge is usually placed between the legs to isolate the upper body for conditioning. Speedo’s version is as good as they get. The buoy forces you to keep the legs together, but it also helps them stay at the top of the water, so you can focus on arm technique and strength. In a pinch, you can hold the pull buoy in outstretched arms to isolate the legs for some lower body conditioning as well.
One for everyone
Floatsation offers some of the most versatile swimming aids we’ve seen. This brand uses a similar design across all its products: a net holding buoyant plastic balls, about the size of a cricket ball in quilted sections, so they can’t move about. They offer various sized mats as well as the Flexi-Tube, which is a bit like a noodle. The advantage of Floatsation is in its flexibility and support. Every piece can support full body weight at the surface of the water. Kids and adults can use any of the equipment.
The flexibility means that they don’t pop away if the swimmer lets go. They also move with uneven weight distribution, which makes them highly stable, even if the swimmer isn’t. This makes them ideal for helping nervous swimmers find the right body position, especially adult beginners or those with sensory difficulties. They offer outstanding support for disabled swimmers who may have different strength or weight on each side of the body. They’re also just loads of fun.
The cons? Floatsation is expensive, and the equipment is large. If it’s out of reach for you as an individual, it might be worth speaking to your local pool about whether they could acquire it for public use.
Always remember to use swimming and floatation aids as intended. Never leave kids and babies unattended in the water with or without swimming aids. Even the best swimming aid isn’t a rescue aid. Stay safe in the water and have fun!