With a big market of swimming accessories, it is hard to distinguish which ones are good. Are ear plugs doing more damage than good? In this article we will take a look at the importance of ear plugs, and review Mack’s Aquablock Swimming Ear Plugs.
Are Swimming Ear Plugs Necessary?
This depends on your body. Here’s what we have found. Swimming without ear plugs is generally fine, but it depends on some factors such as frequency. Some people have tight corners in their ear canals, making the water very hard to remove once it gets in there. Leaving the water inside your ears can cause infections such as the swimmer’s ear.
It isn’t a big investment, but it is a big improvement.
That sounds bad! I’m getting ear plugs now! Wait! Your ears contain a thin protective film on the inside. This is the reason why you should not poke inside your ear with q-tips after swimming (as this can cause more infection). Some swimmers say that by using flanged ear plugs (ear plugs with multiple flanges that prevent water), the flanges irritate the inside of the ear and remove this protective film. This in turn could theoretically cause infections. While this is all theoretical, is it really like that in practice? And does it apply for Mack’s Aquablock ear plugs too?
It sounds plausible. However, one needs to weigh the differences between having earplugs slightly irritate your ears (in theory), or having water that keeps flowing in and out of your ear. Getting water stuck in the ear canal and shaking your head in a crazy manner as an attempt to remove the water is no fun. I definitely prefer wearing ear plugs. Here’s why.
Mack’s Aquablock Ear Plugs
After testing Mack’s Aquablock ear plugs, I can say that I can’t believe I haven’t tried them before. I never want to swim without ear plugs ever again.
I used to have occasional ear pain or difficulty hearing after swimming, due to the water stuck inside the ear canals. Not having any of those problems anymore feels great. It allows me to feel more refreshed after the swimming practice. Simply remove the ear plugs and everything is back to normal. You won’t feel that water stuck in your ear which causes headaches or infections.
After many (10+) swims using Mack’s Aquablock earplugs I can also say that I have never felt any kind of discomfort or irritation in my ears due to the ear plugs. I guess that the theory of flanged ear plugs irritating ears can be true for some harder ear plugs from other brands, but the soft material of Mack’s aquablock ear plugs does not irritate my ears at all. In fact, they are very comfortable.
These ear plugs are definitely useful and more than that. They are a must if you have the occasional annoyance of water in your ears. Every swimmer should try ear plugs at least once, to know if it is a thing for them. Because if it is, you will love it. I got 2 pairs for about $5 on Amazon and it came with a storage box, so it definitely isn’t a big investment, but it is certainly a big improvement. I really cannot think of anything that could be improved on these ear plugs, they are perfect and cheap. A lot of time must have been spent on designing these, so that details such as the softness of the ear plugs and flanges are just right.
An interesting fact about Mack’s: it is the official ear care of USA Swimming. That’s an impressive title, and it is easy to understand why USA Swimming has chosen this brand of ear plugs.
For $5, you get 2 pairs of ear plugs (useful in case you lose one). I chose to buy the purple ones, as they are easier to find in the water, in case they fall out.
Mack’s Aquablock come with a useful storage box. They are very comfortable and easy to insert and remove.
But.. How Can I Hear?
This is one thing that worried me too. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to talk while using the ear plugs, or that I wouldn’t be able to hear the lifeguard whistle and so on. After some research, I found that people say the Mack’s Aquablock ear plugs still let you hear the surroundings. In my test, I found this to be true. I could surprisingly still talk normally to other people and I could still hear whistles. While swimming however, the sound of the water passing your ears is slightly louder, but it’s all totally worth it.
Mack’s also made an instructional video available on how to use these ear plugs:
Make sure that you follow the instructions of your ear plugs. For example, removing them without twisting might cause ear drum damage, as there is a pressure buildup. Simply twisting the ear plug while removing it solves this problem.
Another thing to pay attention to is that you don’t slide your ear plugs too far in, or you might damage your ear drums as well. Once you have swum with ear plugs, you will get used to it and you’ll never want to swim without them.
Other Ear Plugs
At first I was doubting between these and the Alpine SwimSafe. The reason I looked into these, is that those will float to the surface, making them harder to lose. Another feature is that they have a filter inside, allowing you to hear voices and still talk to people. One thing that concerns me the most about the Alpine SwimSafe though, is that the stem is not very long and I would be afraid of losing the ear plugs in my ear for that reason. The biggest downside of the Alpine SwimSafe, is that they are very expensive (6 times more expensive than Mack’s Aquablock). 15$ for 1 pair of Alpine SwimSafe instead of ~$5 for 2 pairs of Mack’s Aquablock.
I found that Mack’s Aquablock ear plugs have the same features executed in a different way. Instead of floating, they are designed to fit your ear in a way that they do not fall out and get lost. During my 10+ swims with these ear plugs, they have never once fallen out of my ears,
Are the Alpine SwimSafe better? They are not bad, but for that price difference, I would recommend to save your money. I could still easily have conversations with Mack’s Aquablock and a filter is thus not required for this. As for the floating part, these are designed to securely fit your ears so it should not be an issue. I did buy the purple coloured ones just in case, but as mentioned, they did not fall out once during 10+ swims. And if you do end up losing them (which seems unlikely), you could just use the 2nd pair in the box, or buy more for just $5.
+ Very Comfortable
+ Keeps the water out
+ Easy to find in water due to purple colour
+ Still possible to hear
+ Very cheap ($5 for 2 pairs)
o Does not float on the water, but designed to stay securely in place, so this is not an issue
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