Ever use hand paddles when working out? They come in a variety of styles and sizes, and can help you to develop strength in the same motion as you use for your regular swimming stroke. But some experts claim they hurt technique by decreasing your ability to feel the water as you muscle the paddle through the water. And - using paddles too soon or too often, with too much force can lead to nagging shoulder soreness.
There is a new paddle out there - the Strokestar Anti-paddle. It's convex instead of flat or concave, curved to displace water around the hand, preventing a strong catch phase (Another product designed to increase feel by decreasing the hand's catch is the Fistglove. The idea is that by preventing a strong catch, you'll be forced to focus on every part of your stroke. To move forward while wearing paddles (not counting your kick's contribution), you'll need to put out a little extra energy and you'll need to perform correct stroke movements. Strokestar claims that you can do this without risking shoulder injury since resistance is reduced by up to 17%. The result - better technique, increased strength, and faster swimming.
In addition, when the paddles are removed, your hand will feel the water better; wearing the paddle kept you from making a good catch; now you can catch and hold the water. This allows for improved tactile input as you perform your stroke. It feels like you are wearing traditional paddles.
Another interesting idea that can be tried with this product is injury rehabilitation. Since the training load is reduced while wearing the paddle, it should be possible to do some swimming as part of the rehabilitation process after a shoulder injury. This assumes the swimmer is smart about it, and does not try to power through the swim!
I use fist swimming drills on a regular basis with similar results, but they are not always effective; cheating is too easy. I'm always looking for easier and better ways to help technique - the x-factor in swimming - and the Strokmaker looks like another answer. if you are looking for a way to improve your strength and technique, the Strokestar paddle might be the way to go.
remember - consult a physician before beginning any fitness routine or activity