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New water fitness shop on La Jolla Boulevard makes a splash

Aquatic fitness is popular among coastal dwellers and visitors alike. So, it is no wonder businesses that cater to water babies find success in La Jolla.

Whether looking for floating pool toy noodles or cutting-edge diving masks, snorkels, fins or wetsuits, the people at Swim & Snorkel on La Jolla Boulevard say they’ve got it in stock. Open since March in a corner space that was once Nautilus Pharmacy, the shop is one of seven nationwide.

“We focus more on fitness swimming,” said Joe Panpaleo of Swim & Snorkel, “people who are looking for the lowest-impact recreational exercise possible.”

They see water workouts as a popular calorie-burning activity.

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“People don’t realize aquatic fitness is one of the best workouts for all ages, better than running or kickboxing,” said Jacqui Mackewicz, area manager for Swim & Snorkel.

One thing that sets the Swim & Snorkel franchise apart, said Mackewicz, is its knowledgeable staff.

“Our staff goes through intensive training on all our products.”

Mackewicz said clerks at many big-name shops frequently can tell you little more than where a swim product is, but Swim & Snorkel employees are versed in helping clients find the perfect fit.

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The fitness-oriented shop carries the Aqua Sphere line of masks, goggles, snorkels, fins and other accessories, which are all aerodynamically designed to provide optimum performance, comfort and visibility.

The aquatic store is also kid-friendly.

“We do cater to younger people,” said Panpaleo. “Everything we have for adults, we have for children.”

A section of the shop is devoted to pool and beach toys. There are floating noodles with horse-shaped heads, bodyboards with Spiderman logos and Aquabobbers, flotation suits that hold toddlers upright in a vertical position keeping their faces out of water.

They also carry the Freestyle line of waterproof watches.

“They have all sorts of different features,” Panpaleo said, “an alarm so you can set how long you’re under water for, depth meters.”

Panpaleo said his shop carries specially designed, extra-thin Aqua Skins.

“They’re very much thinner than wetsuits, one millimeter instead of three,” he said, “which has a better stretch to it and is more flexibile for open-ocean, long-distance swimming. It also keeps you warm down to 50 degrees. It’s similar to triathlon suits, taking that technology and idea.”

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Prominently featured at the shop is an extensive array of underwater eyewear of all types. Old-style goggles are not always water-tight and offer limited visibility. Aqua Sphere masks and goggles are designed to solve those problems. Masks are 10 times stronger and 20 times lighter than glass, while offering much greater flexibility for swimmers, snorkelers and divers.

An equally broad selection of Aqua Sphere snorkels and related gear is also offered at the shop. The snorkel line is designed with both safety and fitness in mind.

“With these snorkels,” said Panpaleo, “you don’t have to strain your neck going up to breathe during your stroke. It keeps your head in the water and you can just concentrate on your stroke and kick.”

Dotting the walls of the swim shop are a host of other products, including a full line of fins, some with shortened blades or split-fin styles to provide efficient, dy-