Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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Ready for long swims in the pool or open water? Triathlons, ironman, long sweaty runs or tough bike rides? If you’re training for an athletic event this year, you know you’ll have to have to spend a lot of time training. For swimmers, that means a fair number of laps or long swims under your speedo. Whatever your activity, a little distraction cannot hurt and these waterproof ipod shuffles could just be the solution to your athletic solitary confinement. I tried the AudioFlood ipod shuffles while training for an endurance swim, a relay crossing of the English Channel and here’s what I thought.
When I received the sleek square box, I was surprised by how small and light it was. Imagine a cube smaller than a 2-by-2 Rubik’s cube and you get the idea. The box includes the ipod shuffle (2GB), various sets of earbuds (including standard Apple earbuds, various sizes so you pick the right fit for your ears), an AudioFlood swim cap, a charger/USB port, a light pouch to fit it all in your gym bag, and a basic starter’s guide. This is the swim cap right here. It’s too thin to use in cold water but would be OK for the pool if you didn’t have one. I’ve been stuffing the iPod under the swim cap, but you can also use the spring-loadd clip to clip directly the iPod shuffle to goggle straps.
The spring-loaded clip looks like this.
I’m a rarity, I’d never used an ipod before. This one was super easy to use (even for me) but I’ll still explain how it works, in case there are other clueless ipod users out there. Connect to your computer with the USB port, launch iTunes, upload music, charge battery, done. My husband uploaded a mix of pop, techno and rock music, making sure I could catch up on years of recent music, throwing in a few oldies so I wouldn’t be completely off my horse. I selected a random playlist but you can also play in the order you uploaded.
I plugged in the earbuds, switched on the ipod shuffle and was ready to go.
I tested the AudioFlood ipod shuffle in cold lakes around London and in heated pools. This picture shows the basic set up. It couldn’t be any easier. First, switch on your iPod and start playing your mp3 files. Second, put on your earbuds and squeeze the AudioFlood at the back of your head under the swim cap.
Once in the water, I had to adjust the volume twice because the sound flows differently in and out of the water. In other words, I had to crank up the volume underwater as my air bubbles were so loud. Then off I went. Swim, swim, swim.
To be honest, I hardly knew the iPod shuffle was there during all my swim sessions. It’s so small and light that it’s a wonder. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the cords when breathing, but that was nothing major. I felt like I was pulling on them. I had squeezed them too tight under my swim cap. Methinks I should start clipping the ipod shuffle outside of the swim cap.
Even during long sessions (such as a 2-hour swim in 16C water), it was actually quite nice to try a few sprints on songs I knew had a faster bpm. I wouldn’t have sprinted all the time but the occasional rush of adrenaline was energizing. The best musics for me included the likes of Katie Perry, Eminem and Avicii. Singer-songwriter unplugged folk music didn’t work as well as I found it too slow for my stroke. Heavy metal was grating and ambient techno was a bit freaky, especially in murky lakes where you don’t want to know what could be lurking below. Though I’m thankful to be more educated musically, I’ll stick to happy songs.
Troubleshooting faulty headphones
After the first couple sessions, I noticed that one of the earbuds went silent. I emailed AudioFlood and they promptly got back to me with a fix, including a couple pictures explaining what I should do. Turns out there was an air bubble trapped in the earbud and it needed to be gently squeezed out with pliers. Just so.
It worked great and next thing you know, I was back in business. If the fix hadn’t worked, AudioFlood offered to send me a replacement set of headphones right away. I did not need to get one, but their customer service was truly prompt and efficient. I know a lot of customers always rave about the customer service and I completely understand why.
That said, if you too have faulty headphones, I suggest you contact them directly. What worked for me might not work for you.
What makes the ipod shuffle so great?
If you’ve always exercised in silence, listening to music or voice will be a welcome break from your heavy breathing or air bubbles. There’s also the fact that:
– music makes you happy
– music can help you keep the pace up
– you can adapt the type of music to the training of the day (check out speed running or gym strength training playlists by bpm)
– you can listen to radio podcasts or audiobooks underwater, kind of cool
When is using the earphones not a good idea?
Now, if you listen to music so loud that you cannot hear the outside world, the ipod shuffle may not always be ideal. Some environments also ban mp3 players for safety reasons. For instance:
– some competitions/events/races ban the use of headphones – check the rules
– when sharing lanes at the pool or during a masters class
– when not hearing the outside world is potentially unsafe–I’m thinking that would apply to bicyclists or runners on the road, swimmers in open water with boat traffic
I really enjoyed listening to music when swimming and I’m going to try audiobooks or poetry. I find there’s a nice rhythm to words. Overall, I’m very happy with the AudioFlood and both my husband and my daughters are jealous that I have one. I did tell them I would share, but that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I’ll be nice and do it soon.
If you lead an active life and train regularly, get it! It’ll make your workouts more so much fun and motivating. Good luck for your training!
Thank you to AudioFlood for sending me a complimentary AudioFlood bundle set so I could review it on Frog Mom.