I swim with a pull buoy all the time. It’s like a little safety net in the uncomfortable world of swimming. You just stick it between your legs and everything seems just a little easier. But, “making it easier” isn’t the real benefit, a pull buoy allows you to focus on improving your stroke without the complications of waggly and sagging legs.
In our podcast, How Not To Suck At Swimming podcast (posted below), Coach Robbie said something that I think is great advice: “If you’re struggling in the water, stick a pull buoy between your legs, swim 3-4 times a week and call us in a month.”
That’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately and the results are undeniable. I’m getting stronger and incrementally faster, all while re-learning to relax in the water.
If you’re out of swim shape it will seem a little harder at first, but in a few short pool sessions you will start to find a rhythm and build enough strength to turn a 2,000 meter swim into a piece of cake.
I never like to exhaust myself in the water because it tends to deter my enthusiasm for the next swim. As I re-build, I go to the edge of my fitness, and stop. That may be something as simple as doing a 1,000 meters in the beginning (of re-discovering swim-shape). Then building by doing 1,500 as 3 x 500. The next time I may try to do 1,500 straight. Then 4 x 500, then 2,000 straight, etc.
I’m not a great swimmer by any means, but I’ve had my moments, and they are always related to confidence and my ability to relax in the water. As far as I know there’s only one way to make that happen: swim a lot.
For my money, the pull buoy is the best way to make swimming more manageable, frequent, and enjoyable. This is especially true if you’re doing a wetsuit race because it simulates your body position.
I’ll admit that back in 2014, when I did Louisville in the summer, I was a little concerned. I’d mainly swam with a pull buoy but wouldn’t have the buoyancy of a wetsuit in my pocket. It turned out to be my fastest Ironman swim (1:06) and the one thing I remember most was how relaxed I was.
Triathlon is so much about figuring out ways to help you enjoy the training. For swimming, the pull buoy is my Holy Grail.
Check out one of our most popular podcasts: How To Not Suck At Swimming.