Top Swim Aids for Adults and Children
Updated: Jul 23
Swim aids come in all types. They can be used for swim lessons, water safety, or recreation, depending on your need. It doesn’t matter if you want to help your child learn to swim, if you’re a person with disabilities who needs a little extra support in the water, or if you want to float over reefs while snorkeling—there’s a swim aid for you.
All swimmers need a little help with flotation from time to time. So we created a short guide to the benefits and drawbacks of the top swim aids for adults and children.
Armbands (or arm floaties) are mostly intended for children in the pool (though some armbands are made for adults). The bands fit around a child’s upper arm to keep their upper body above the water. Bands can be either inflatable plastic or buoyant foam material. They support the body above water; however, they aren’t great for swimming.
Provides varying degrees of flotation
Doesn’t allow for natural movement when swimming
Armbands can fall off or deflate
Not recommended for the open water
Belts are swim aids for adults and children who want to improve their swimming technique in the pool. The belt fits snugly around your waist and supports your torso with two to four blocks of plastic foam, which can be removed or added as you determine your buoyancy needs. There are also solid belts, but these are not adjustable.
Easy to put on and take off
Doesn’t insulate the body from cold water
Can be difficult to use in the open water, such as the ocean
A tricky center of gravity, if the wearer is unconscious could end up face down
Flotation wetsuits are a swim aid for adults and children that can be used in the pool or open water for all recreational water activities. Designed like a regular wetsuit, the flotation wetsuit (or flotation swimsuit) is manufactured with additional buoyant material sewn into the chest area to create extra flotation. Like regular wetsuits, they come in spring suits and full suits.
Easy to put on and take off
Helps you float effortlessly
Provides confidence and mobility for all swimmers
Provides warmth so you can stay out in the water longer
You can swim farther with half as much energy
Amount of flotation is not adjustable
More expensive than an armband, belt or noodle (price comparable to a wetsuit)
Noodles are long tubes of colored polyethylene foam used for flotation support for adults and children. Most noodles can support between 100-300 pounds of weight. Noodles can be used for swim lessons or snorkeling above reefs.
Allows freedom of movement
Able to support all sizes from kids to adults
Can easily get lost in open water conditions
Provides a false sense of security, and can slip away since it is not worn by a swimmer
The plastic from the noodles can break off and remain in the ocean
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