I think we have all seen that person show up to the pool with an old pair of goggles and speedos only, and fly around lap after lap effortlessly. Chances are this isn’t their first time in the pool and they didn’t start out that way. Somewhere along the line they used tools, and they probably still do in some workouts. In general pool toys are very helpful, and in most cases you will find triathletes have many more toys than traditional swimmers, there’s good reason for that. In most cases a triathlon swimmer needs more help finding a correct body position and stroke mechanics. Adult onset swimmers and long time swimmers wanting to tweak mechanics or build specific strength should be using pool toys as needed. They can become a crutch, but absolutely the bottom line is the slower the swimmer, the more percentage of workouts will be done with pool toys. Here’s a list of what is in my swim bag and why.