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Swim Training: The Pull Buoy

Learn how you can use the pull buoy to become a better swimmer.

Image result for pull buoyWhat is a pull buoy

A pull buoy is a “figure 8” shaped piece of foam that is typically held between the upper thighs to float the hips and legs at the surface of the water. They are one size fits all but different brands may have slightly different designs, so do your research and find the one that works for you. It is called “pulling” when you swim with a buoy because all of your forward movement is from your arms.

Help with proper positioning

The pull buoy is positioned between the thighs causing the butt and legs to float to a more proper position. When your butt drops and your legs are further underwater you are creating more drag and less efficient swimming. The pull buoy helps show us what the proper body position should feel like so that we can work on transferring this to our regular swimming.

Focus on Technique

Swimming with the pull buoy also requires less effort so you are able to swim longer and increase your upper body fitness. Also with kicking your legs out of the mix, you can really focus on your arm form. Practice different drills, watch where your arm enters the water and the timing of how you rotate your body in response.

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Help with Breathing

Pull sets are a great time to work on breath control and breathing technique. Kick can cause elevated heart rates, leaving you feeling winded and without the energy to focus on when and how you are breathing. By lessening the effort you can set up a breath pattern and work on your breath timing with each stroke. Swimming with a pull buoy is also a good time to practice bilateral breathing, which can come in super handy during open water swims.

Important Notes

Don’t become addicted to your buoy and use it as a crutch. The ease of gliding through the water may leave your regular laps feeling less than ideal but remember that the buoy is a tool to help you and won’t be there on race day. The best way to do this is by having planned sets and only use the pull buoy during those designated times.

New Swim Equipment, Now What?

See improvement in the water when you properly use your new swim equipment

Congrats! You just registered for Rookie Triathlon, the first triathlon of your life! Time to start training for the 300m swim. Purchasing swim equipment will help you improve in the water. Once you get all of your swim equipment, you probably have some questions about using it all. What’s a kickboard? Are you placing your buoy properly? What about your paddles? Here are some training tips that’ll help you get acclimated to your new swim equipment. We also provide some swim equipment recommendations!

Use our insight to get acclimated with your swim equipment!

Rookie Tri participant enters Decker Lake. Credit – Ed Sparks

PaddlesSwim paddles should fit within 1-2 inches of space around the edge of your fingers for maximum pulling power. Make sure to enter the water with your hand at a slight angle when swimming with paddles to reduce resistance against the paddle.

Buoy – Place the swim buoy between your thighs and try not to kick while you are pulling. The buoy will help stabilize your lower body. This allows you to rotate your hips and shoulders more effectively without the help of your kick. Pulling with just the buoy (no paddles) will help you focus on your “catch” in the water. Adding the paddles is a great way to increase your upper body strength.

FinsFins should fit snugly around your foot, but not tight. When kicking with fins, make sure to keep your legs fairly straight and use your hips to kick (without too much bend in the knee). The fins should help propel you through the water while keeping your upper body relaxed. Fins also help with ankle flexibility, which is very important in swimming.

Kickboard – The streamline kickboard helps beginner swimmers glide smoothly through the water as they develop the kick. Focus on keeping your lower body and the board on the surface of the water to reduce drag while you are kicking. Aim for small, quick kicks with your legs.

Mesh bag – Putting your swim gear in a mesh bag will help prevent lost or misplaced equipment. It will also allow your equipment to dry quickly after swim workouts.