How to Choose a Swimmers' Snorkel

January 22, 2024

How to Choose a Swimmers' Snorkel
Table of Contents

Swimmers’ snorkels have become a popular training tool over the past few years. Last year’s review from Julie Stupp broke down some of the specific brands and styles that are out on the market. This guide takes you through some of the more basic questions that most people have when choosing a swimmers’ snorkel.

Who are you buying the snorkel for?

Snorkels come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. They all have a similar effect but a different use depending on the specific features and the individual swimmer’s needs. Swimmers can use snorkels for hypoxic training, stroke technique work, and overall aerobic training – which might be geared more to the fitness swimmer rather than the competitive swimmer. Triathletes and open water enthusiasts use snorkels for open water swimming and working on their technique with the added open water elements like wave swells and chop.

Key features to consider when making your choice:

Spout size: The size of the snorkel spout can become very important when answering the question, what are you using the snorkel for and where are you using it? Depending on whether you are using a snorkel for hypoxic training or in open water, you should take a look at the spout size needed for each activity. Some snorkels, such as the TYR Ultralight, have different spout caps that restrict the airflow into the snorkel. The Ultralight snorkel is a good training tool for more experienced sprinters whose focus is on hypoxic training. Snorkels with a larger spout are great for beginners or open water swimmers who want more oxygen flow. There is no right size; the best option is based on your preferences and needs.

Head piece + strap construction: Some snorkels, like the Speedo Bullet, have additional padding on the head piece. This extra cushion is great for younger swimmers, long distance athletes, and anyone looking for more comfort. Be sure to pay attention to the strap construction, since the athletes head size and personal preferences determine which strap style is most comfortable.

Snorkel tube length + shape: The length and shape of the snorkel tube is important because it can create a better snorkel experience when practicing different strokes. Open water swimmers typically benefit from snorkels with longer tubes as they are better at preventing rough water from entering, helping them to break through heavy chop and high swells. Snorkels with shorter tubes are useful for younger or beginning swimmers as these types of snorkels are easier to control. Curved snorkel tubes that fit the shape of a swimmers head are ideal for specific stroke technique work and long distance swimmers. The curved tube shape creates less interference on flip turns, which is excellent for distance freestylers and breaststrokers. The curved design reduces water entry so the swimmer can work on their technique without the worry of swallowing water while diving forward on the glide portion of each stroke.


All of the swimmer-specific snorkels available at range from about $20 to $40. Snorkels are all designed with the purpose of allowing the swimmer to continue to breathe while keeping their head in the water. Beyond that function, the specific features that you need are based on your preferences. Swimmers' snorkels not only help you train more efficiently in the open water, but they help you enhance technical stroke gains, improve hypoxic functions, and build aerobic capacity in the pool. The size, shape, and construction of the headpiece are important factors to consider when purchasing a snorkel, as are its key training features. When searching for your next swim snorkel, be sure to use this outline to help you narrow down your choices.

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