SwimEars Product Review
Our review this week is of the innovative ear plugs product SwimEars from Finis. They claim to “let sound in but keep water out” .Two of our swim specialist test associates had a go recently, this is what they had to say about them.
Before we get into the SwimEars review worth sharing some essential information around swimming ear plugs and swimmers ears.
What is swimmer’s ear?
As a life long swimmer I have suffered from swimmer’s ear myself a number of times. Now with children of my own I also experience it from their swimming. Swimmer’s ear (also known as otitis externa) is a bacterial infection. It is typically caused by water that stayed in the outer ear canal for a long period of time. This provides a moist environment for bacteria to grow. Anyone can get swimmer’s ear, but it is most often seen in children. Personally having suffered from swimmer’s ear myself I have relied on swimming ear plugs every time I swim as a method for preventing swimmer’s ear.
How do you know if you have swimmer’s ear?
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) include redness of the ear canal, ear pain, draining fluids and a discharge of pus. Initially swimmer’s ear will feel like water trapped inside the inner part of the ear and a feeling of being under water. Untreated, the infection can spread to nearby tissue and bone. Swimmer’s ear is an infection in the outer ear canal.
Will swimmer’s ear cause a fever?
Will swimmers ear fix itself?
No, swimmer’s ear will not resolve itself. Swimmer’s ear is an infection in your ear canal that won’t go away unless it’s treated. If you leave swimmer’s ear untreated, a swimmer’s ear infection may spread. Ultimately this can spread to the base of your skull, your brain or your cranial nerves. These are extreme outcomes though and treated correctly swimmer’s ear causes no long term damage.
How do you fix swimmer’s ear?
Initally cleaning your outer ear canal is necessary to fix swimmer’s ear. This then allows eardrops to flow to all infected areas. A doctor can then use a suction device or ear curette to clean away discharge, clumps of earwax, flaky skin and other debris.
After cleaning a Doctor will prescibe ear drops with antibiotics, steroids and anti-fungal medication to help fix the swimmer’s ear.
Do swim ear plugs prevent swimmer’s ear?
Yes, swimming ear plugs can help prevent swimmer’s ear. To reduce the risk of swimmer’s ear it is recommended to keep your ears as dry as possible. Hard to do while swimming hence the need for something additional to enable this. For this reason you should use swim ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds when swimming.
Are swimmers ear plugs safe?
Swim ear plugs are safe and can prevent infection. Swimmer’s ear is a common ear infection caused by water remaining in the outer ear canal. It creates a moist environment, perfect for bacterial growth, resulting in irritating and painful infections. Swimming ear plugs help keep the ear canal dry preventing water residing in the ear.
Nicola Wilding – Triathlete & Aquathon competitor – Greater London
“ I entered the water I was still able to hear people talking around me which is brilliant for safety”.
Appearance & comfort
On receipt I was pleased to note the packaging was compact and sufficient. It came in a jiffy bag that held the small package.
The SwimEars themselves come in a smart compact carry case that can easily be attached to your kit bag using a smart carabiner clip, so that you don’t have to hunt for them. They also come with spare plugs/attachments that fit nicely in the case too. The instructions are a handy booklet that’s concise and informative.
This is the first time I’ve ever used a product like this, so I didn’t know what to expect & had nothing to compare them to. Many of my team mates use them and I’ll be sure to recommend them. I thought they were going to be uncomfortable, and that I would lose them easily. I couldn’t be more wrong!
They comfortably fit into my ears and were not at all difficult to put in; I had thought they would be especially difficult to put in as I am only able to use one hand as my right is paralysed and the right hand amputated.
The swim ears themselves are easy to hold as the design means you can grip it. The small yellow handle shown in the picture acts as a perfect little handle. I was then able to adjust the connecting strap that joins the 2 swim ears together, so that they were in place and they didn’t get tangled in my long hair. I was pleased to note that once they are in the ears they stay there and didn’t budge even when I put my swim cap on.
In the water I was still able to hear people talking around me which is brilliant for safety. During my swim; bearing in mind I’ve never used them before, I am pleased to say that they did not irritate me, I even forgot I was wearing them, meaning I could concentrate on my swim.
Once I’d finished, I did notice that I didn’t have to shake the water out of my ears like I often have done, so it shows that they do what they are supposed to. I’m pleased to report that I have no discomfort in my ears after using them.
My first trial of them was only during a short swim as it was in the lake and the light was failing. I intend to use them when I start pool training and for much longer swims. I’ll be interested to see how durable they are when I start back with my winter training but I’m looking forward to using them again.
Alice Tournell-North – Experienced Triathlete ITU Championships Canada. Elite racer and Qualified Strength & conditioning coach
“I hadn’t experienced any of the water logged feeling that I usually have after my swim”
First Impressions of the SwimEars
I really like the packaging that the SwimEars are presented in. The little case is great and I love the addition of the carabiner clip – it makes it really easy to store in your kit bag and not lose them!
The ear plugs themselves look nice and compact although I do think the instructions need to be a little clearer. I found that when I first fitted them I didn’t understand where the stabilisation wing was meant to go. Some more information about how they are meant to fit/feel would be useful. As someone who has never used ear plugs before I didn’t know if I’d put them in correctly and the instructions didn’t help at all with that.
SwimEars review Day 1
As I’ve mentioned I did struggle to fit the Swim Ears on the first try. I have a few cartilage piercing in my ears and couldn’t fit the stabilisation wings around them. I also had no idea how tight they should feel in my ears so I don’t think I fitted them properly on this occasion.
The yellow strap feels pretty comfy, I think it’s maybe a little bit too long but it fits under a swim hat easily and I didn’t notice it throughout my swim.
During the swim I was aware of the SwimEars but they weren’t uncomfortable. I wasn’t convinced that they were keeping the water out though and did feel like I had to keep pushing them back into my ears. At no point did they actually fall out but I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. It may have been that as my swim hat moved up and away from my ears and I just felt like they weren’t secure. The sound through them was brilliant though. There was an aqua class going on in the other side of the pool and I could ear all the instructor’s directions easily. I could also hear perfectly when other swimmers were speaking to me.
Having said that I didn’t think they kept the water out of my ears I realised later in the day that I hadn’t experienced any of the “water logged” feeling that I usually have after my swim training so they must have worked!
Review Day 2
After studying the instructions a little bit closer I worked out how to get the wings around my piercings. They sat a lot tighter within my ears and felt a lot more secure. Again they didn’t fall out at any point during my swim but I did feel like I needed to keep pushing them back in. This might just be because I’m not used to swimming with ear plugs in. The tighter fit definitely made them feel like they were keeping the water out much better than my first swim and again I didn’t have any of the blocked ear feeling afterwards.
Training & Racing
I don’t think I would personally use the product in the pool as I have never had an issue with water in my ears whilst swimming in the pool. However, I do think that they will great for using in the lakes when the water is between 9-12 degrees. I get quite disorientated and dizzy when the cold water gets into my ear canal and so I think the SwimEars will be great for that. As an alternative to the putty style ear plugs that people use I imagine that SwimEars are a lot more comfortable and lightweight.
With regards to using the SwimEars product in a triathlon I think they would be great. I have a few teammates who prefer to use ear plugs but have to use the putty ones. They then have the issue of removing these whilst on the bike, which isn’t easy and is just one more thing to think about. The SwimEars will be a brilliant alternative as they can be removed really quickly. When pulling my hat off I just pulled the yellow strap and the ear plugs came out of my ears no problem. For speedy transitions in T1 they will be brilliant. I do think the yellow strap could be a little shorter though as I was concerned it may get tangled in my hair as there was a lot of it to tuck up under my swim cap.
My summary of these ear plugs
Overall, following my full review of Swimears I think these are a great product for people who are used to using ear plugs when they swim. I love that you can still hear everything that is going on around you and like that they are super lightweight. I love the case that they come with and like the design and colour scheme. I do think that the instructions need to be clearer and the head strap could be slighter shorter but all in all I like the product. They are true to their slogan of letting the sound in and keeping water out and I think they will be great for open water swimming as well as for use in Triathlons.
If you think these are something that would work for you can buy them direct from SwimEars
If you’re interested in improving your swim why not read our recent review of the Finis Swim parachute. https://blog.trivelo.co.uk/?s=parachute