Tunes to Swim By

For the last 9 years I have enjoyed swimming with music. Not every swim, but for some swims the added auditory stimulus has enhanced my concentration and quality of swimming. I like that.

For these 9 years I have used the Finis MP3 device. The original player which lasted for about 5 years, and then the newer Duo model which is still up and running…. but not without some frustrations. I have absolutely no issues with the sound – it delivers crisp, clear melodies with no static or vibration. The Finis Duo is relatively comfortable for its size and shape, and I never had any issues with the programming. Its biggest downfall and most frustrating aspect is the charging. Yes, those reviews were correct. The first Finis model had a direct USB connection which was fantastic. The newer Duo has magnetic pins. Hit and miss on the connection and half the time it may look like its charging but fair dinkum it’s not. Bring in the mech eng husband who gets a mini clamp to hold it in place to charge. On a good day that would work. However, I would sigh every time I needed to charge the device.

Well this week was the last straw, two attempts to charge and no dice. A minor dummy spit, a quick click and ship, and the Aftershokz Xtrainerz was at the front door. Yeah baby, who doesn’t love a new toy. I ripped that sucker out the package and went straight to charge. Exciting doesn’t begin to describe it… the Xtrainerz come with a charging cable and its own little mini house (cradle is the official word) for the pogo pins that the headphones snap in to. Genius. It was super quick and easy to charge and load songs. I was already sold.

Looking closely at features of the two devices I can give you the following Cliff notes:

The Xtrainerz charge in less than 2 hours…. the Finis Duo may charge if the stars are aligned.

The Xtrainerz play time is 8 hours…. the Finis Duo 7 hours.

The Xtrainerz support a few more file formats than the Finis Duo but both support MP3 and WMA.

The Xtrainerz have the ability to create folders and change between them on the device, for example, switch from a music playlist to an audiobook. Winning.

Both have storage of 4GB.

The Xtrainerz have a two year warranty, the Finis Duo has one year.

I couldn’t wait to swim this morning to take the Xtrainerz for a whirl.  

Some notes on the practical side….

There is no significant weight difference between the two. Check. The Xtrainerz are far more streamlined and discreet. The shape of the Xtrainerz, and the fact that you don’t attach them to the goggle strap like the Finis, made for a more comfortable fit. I did play with putting the rounded strap of the Xtrainerz under my cap, then over my cap, and it did not change the comfort or quality of audio. I would say do what feels best for your noggin.

I did really like when turning on the Xtrainerz, it gave you an alert for the level of battery -even more in its favor regarding charging! I did not wear the ear plugs included in the Xtrainerz kit (along with a swim cap and storage case, thank you Aftershokz!), and the audio was still clear and crisp. I wondered if there would be movement of the device when going to breathe, and to my delight there was not. The audio did change a little in that moment though, when the device shifted from water to air. Just a volume change it seemed, nothing major and could entirely be my ears….

The smaller buttons for on/off, volume and mode are much more responsive than the Finis Duo. And here is one added feature y’all…. the Xtrainerz will flash solid red for charging, solid blue for charge complete, red flash every 5 seconds for low battery, one second red for power off, one second blue for power on. Flashes red and blue, lookout, there is a problem. Communication! The cornerstone of every great relationship! As of this moment I am one happy, tuned in swimmer with the Xtrainerz!

Please note I am not affiliated with any company, just looking for an enjoyable swim! If anyone is heading to the swim studio soon and would like to compare, I am happy to guide you through it.

Coach Dinah

How to improve your critical thinking…lessons from a 5 year old

Critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate complex situations.  Through this process, you can expect to find clarity, enhance your understanding, detect areas for improvement and create solutions to problems.

In an earlier post, I covered the benefits of keeping a swim journal which is a great way to encourage critical thinking. You can find the post here.

In this post, I would like to cover how we can teach our kids to become critical thinkers through swimming and art. Several of my young swim students love to draw after their lessons. I am sure the humongous size post-it note paper on the door is an attractive blank canvas!  Depending on the age of the child, it is free drawing time, or it may be guided by specific things we have practiced during the lesson. I am enthusiastic about drawing as a lesson finale and here are the top 4 reasons why:

  1. A chance to organize thoughts – when faced with a blank canvas, these young swimmers are being challenged to make sense of what just occurred in the pool and to put marker to the paper in a more organized way. They will take the time to think about what was most meaningful to them during the lesson, and express it in their own way. Some children will use images only, others will include key words or short sentences to process the lesson. The ability to make the details of the lesson more sticky in their minds is a huge benefit of a short art exercise.
  2. A chance to process reasoning – this is a wonderful advantage of taking a few moments to document their findings in art form. I am always amazed at the maturity of the reasoning and art compared to the age appropriate swimming movements in the water. Their minds seem so far ahead of what their bodies can do, and perhaps this brief exercise in critical thinking will help the neuromuscular system develop as well.
  3. A chance to evaluate movements – before setting the marker on the page, you can see the wheels turning….. how did their bodies just move in the water where they have no visual cues? How can that be processed and then drawn out on to the page? Usually the shapes in the art work are accurate, even if the in-water movements are not quite there yet. This gives the swimmer an ideal platform to strengthen correct movement pathways in their brains.
  4. A chance to communicate ideas – most times after the art is complete I ask the swimmer to tell me what they have drawn. The little extra verbal interaction takes another step in their minds to communicate their ideas behind swimming. My favorite part is the the usual age appropriate additions to the swimming art – from animals to other family members to added thought bubbles with written text – whatever is important to them to go along with their swim analysis. A great way to enhance understanding and express ideas in their own pictures and words.


In this illustration from a 5 year old swimmer, he expresses the shapes of his freestyle recovery arm versus his backstroke recovery arm. There are also up and down arrows which he verbally explained were the relationship of head and hips in the strokes. He is one happy young swimmer when he gets to top off the lesson with some free drawing! I am one happy coach to use the exercise to develop critical thinking. I encourage swimmers of all ages to try it…see what happens!

Coach Dinah