There is a ton of different swim equipment out there for both the novice and competitive swimmer. From paddles to pull buoys to swim fins there is a never-ending pile of equipment to choose from when we hop in the water.

As a long-time competitive swimmer I have had a chance to play around with most of them. Here are the three essential tools swimmers need in order to swim faster:

1. Tempo Trainer Pro.

One of the coolest pieces of swim gear out there is the FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro. Simple in design and water-proof (obviously), this little device clips onto your goggles. There are two main uses that you can use the Tempo Trainer for:

First, it can be used as a way to track intervals. Set it for :30 seconds, for instance, and it will give you a quick beep every time thirty seconds elapses. This is helpful for pools that don’t have pace clocks, or for open water fartlek swimming.

Secondly, it can be used to help you maintain a specific stroke rate. As a sprinter I have found this especially helpful as hitting those high stroke rates is difficult. Similarly, you can use the Tempo Trainer to help lengthen out your strokes during long course swimming to help you improve your distance per stroke.

For beginner swimmers pick a stroke rate you want, attach it to your goggle strap, and simulate some arm pulls on dryland to help you develop the motor patterns that you want to achieve in the water.

2. A swimmer’s snorkel.

My next favorite tool in my swim bag? Your front-mounted snorkel. This thing has become a bit of a crutch in my training in recent months, and with good reason.

They are wildly effective at helping you to balance out muscle imbalances in your back and shoulders, allow you to simulate bilateral breathing, allow you to focus on technique and stroke corrections, and force you to kick with a fuller freestyle kick.

Perhaps my favorite reason for using a swimmer’s snorkel is that you can get a really good rhythm going when swimming freestyle. As a result of breathing relentlessly to one side over the years I developed a gallop in my stroke which left my freestyle unbalanced.

Putting on a snorkel, having your face to the bottom of the pool, gives you the opportunity to swim with a balanced, rhythmic freestyle, which is especially enjoyable when doing laps in the long course pool.

3. A log book.

Journaling out your workouts has many benefits, not the least of which is that it will help you perform more consistently over the long term in the pool. Tracking your workouts will help you to pinpoint connections between training and lifestyle (sleep, for instance).

You will be able to better plot your training, by setting training goals, both for the week and for the session in the pages of your log book. And you will provide your swim coach with a wealth of information that will better inform their training of you (something Katie Ledecky did with her swim coach in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics where she won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle).

Writing out your swim practices is a bit of a lost art these days, with swimmers looking to stick to the apps and web-based software to track their workout data. There is something about pen and paper that helps swimmers connect and