PENSACOLA, Florida, August 13. THERE are numerous claims in advertising about the benefits of specific hand paddle designs for swimming. Generally, these claims have no scientific support. However, the results of a recent study indicate a new design is superior for strength training. Tek-Master paddles have a cavity that captures a greater mass of water than conventional flat paddles.
The 3D shape increases the resistive characteristics of the paddle, allowing swimmers to generate greater forces.
To test the Tek-Master paddles, the edges of traditional flat paddles were trimmed so that the surface area was identical to the 3D shape paddles (54 sq in). Holes (.75 in diameter) were drilled in both paddles to accommodate Aquanex sensors for measuring force. The modifications allowed testing with the sensors in the same hand position (between the third and fourth fingers) under all conditions.
Six swimmers were tested with Aquanex+Video while swimming freestyle over a 20 yd course at top speed with bare hands (without paddles) and with both types of paddles. The subjects performed one trial bare hand, one trial with flat paddles, and one trial with the Tek-Master paddles. Hand force data and video were captured with Aquanex+Video over the last 10 yards of the swim.
The peak force values were similar for bare hands and flat paddles, but about 50% higher for the Tek-Master paddles. The consistency was remarkable, as the Tek-Master values were higher for both the left and right hands for every subject.
For each subject, the highest force generated with the Tek-Master paddles was near the end of the push phase.
There were dramatic differences between the flat and 3D shape paddles in force values. The peak force was about 50% greater with the Tek-Master paddles. The results suggest that the 3D shape provides a more resistive surface than the flat paddles. Because hand force is directly related to swimming velocity, the new design has great potential to improve performance.
The Tek-Master paddle has a distinct advantage for generating higher forces during swimming. The strength training benefit is undeniable. Not only does the 3D design provide a more resistive surface, but it allows strength training to be performed in a manner that is totally specific to swimming.
To view the results of this study in full, or for more information about advanced technology and swimming, visit the Swimming Technology Research website – swimmingtechnology.com.
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