I’ve met swim coaches who disapprove of pull buoys. And it’s true that you’ll probably work harder on your pull sets if you’re swimming with your ankles crossed (dragging you down) than if you’ve got a friendly float wedged between your thighs (holding you up!).
But pull buoys have their place. They’re particularly great for beginners, who need to concentrate on technique but will tire fairly easily and I sometimes use mine to have a break while I’m swimming a big set. I realise this might seem like cheating, but, like most swimmers, my stroke suffers when I’m getting weary. Using the pulbuoy for ten lengths or so ‘resets’ my stroke and allows me to return to technically better swimming after I finish using it.
The Speedo Elite pull buoy has been in my kit bag for a couple of years and, at £12, it was a no brainer investment.
I like the smooth surface, which feels like good quality, and the fact that one end is larger than the other – giving you more buoyancy where you need it.
As a poor kicker, it can be tempting to use my pull buoy more than I should, so I only take it out of my kit bag for swim training nights and if I’m planning to do a long pool swim. I don’t use it for outdoor swimming as my wetsuit already adds quite a bit of buoyancy. On Saturday mornings, when the lanes at my local pool are busy, I use my pullbuoy as a kind of shorthand – putting it poolside next to my lane lets others know I’m a serious swimmer, helping them to decide whether we’ll be good lane buddies (although that doesn’t always work!).
If you’ve not tried swimming with a pull buoy you can use a normal rectangular swim float wedged between your legs, but be prepared for it to pop out at unexpected moments!
Here’s a couple more tips from Speedo about ways to use your pull buoy…