The sport of swimming has seen many innovations over the last few years, some of which we have covered here on the Swimator Blog. (new full-body suits, technique improvement related swimming equipment or new insights on how to swim faster).
However, one aspect of swimming that is being pushed to the background is the safety of the sport.
When was the last time you heard about some new swim safety equipment being introduced around the swimming pools?
If you think about it, there are numerous designs of life vests, floating rings from many materials, arm floaties (inflatable arm bands) for children, the long stick that a lifeguard extends to a swimmer in distress, lifeguard rescue tubes and swimming safety belts.
All of these pieces of safety equipment are great to help a person to stay afloat, however, they all are either impossible to swim with or make swimming quite cumbersome.
Bottom line is that personal safety during swimming does not get as much attention as it deserves, even though drownings during the popular mass triathlon races are quite common.
This is about to change.
A new revolutionary swim safety device was introduced to the open swimmer community which keeps you safer if you need it to.
It does not hinder your swimming capability as the other swim safety tools do.
Say hello to the original "SaferSwimmer Float (Swim Safety Device)".
I have already very briefly mentioned this product in the drowning prevention post earlier and now let's have a more in-depth look.
As the name indicates, the Safer Swimmer keeps you or your children safer during most swimming activities (be it in the pool or open water).
It basically works as an inflatable float which is attached with an adjustable belt to your waist and is carried in the current behind you.
You might be thinking, well, that is not that revolutionary.
You are right, this simply is not, however, the beauty comes in the fact that the device does not cause you to swim slower due to its resistance behind your body.
When you swim, your body creates sort of a turbulent wave channel behind you with water moving in the direction of your swim.
In more scientific fluid dynamics terms, this turbulent wave creates vortices which in turn produce a low-pressure area behind the swimmer which causes the water to move along in the direction of the swimmer's swim.
The swim safety device takes advantage of this water flow and is basically moved in the direction of the swim on top of the wave with truly little resistance.
It is remarkably like the idea of when cyclists or swimmers draft behind each other in their road/open water races in order to save energy.
The second cyclist/swimmer always works a lot less than the first who has to plow through the air/water to create the forward moving channel.
Apart from its main function as a safety device, it also has a built-in dry bag storage compartment.
In this waterproof dry compartment, you can store and take items with you for a swim that you'd normally have to leave behind the car tire or on the beach.
So, whether you bring with you your clothes, towel, phone, car keys, sunglasses, spare goggles, running shoes to run back to your starting place or sun protection lotion, they stay nice and dry.
Your mind can easily be focused on swimming instead of worrying whether someone is going through your valuables on the beach.
If you are out for a longer swim, perhaps you might want to bring some nutrition and hydration products along, so you can replenish your energy levels and have a good workout.
The basic model cannot be opened while you swim, but there is also a Grab Bag type donut model which is perfect.
It can be used to carry items that you want to have access to during your swim.
If you are into swim trekking or open water orienteering, perhaps a map sealed in a zip lock bag is in order, so you don't get lost.
Another great feature is the bright orange color of the Safer Swimmer tow float.
Being seen in open water swimming is a must, so any boats will go around the area you swim in.
Open water swimmers usually wear a colorful swim cap to accomplish being seen, however, those caps are quite small and with the head being low in the water and waves going around your body, this is not ideal.
The SaferSwimmer with its 50cm long and about 20cm tall (when inflated) body makes a perfect statement in the deep blue since the orange color is hard to miss.
The tow float does not, however, have to be used only for swimming.
Since it floats in the wake your body creates behind you, it is bound to float behind your kayak or a canoe.
Therefore, if you are running out of space in the boat compartments or you just do not have any or you simply want to keep your beer cool, why not take the swim safety device along.
Fill it with the items you need to keep dry and let it float behind your boat while you paddle to explore nearby coves.
The safety buoy can be made out of a few different materials.
It is important you understand what material is the tow float composed of because there are a lot of fake, lookalike buoys which are cheap imitations of the original.
The basic buoy is made out of durable PVC material that of course is unfortunately not that environmentally friendly.
Don't worry though, there is a much better alternative.
For the more eco-friendly and tougher material, you should choose TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) with Nylon lamination or even better yet TPU with Polyester lamination.
The funny thing is that these TPU buoys are not just eco-friendlier, but they are also much more durable than PVC.
Therefore, it is a win/win situation.
The tow float can supposedly even withstand an adult person standing on it while inflated (I have not tried this :)).
The inflation with your mouth is done via a small external tube that has a wonderful tight-seal opening which will hold air in very well.
It is genuinely better than the valveless opening like we see on most common air filled children toys.
On some models, there is also a small handle which can be handy when you walk into the water.
It is even more useful in the situation when you are using the float to rest during your swim.
When you wrap your hands around the buoy, it could happen that you will slip if there is some slime built up on the float from the swim, however, if you grab the handle, you will get a much more firmer grip.
That said, models that do not feature the handle have a strap that runs along the length of the buoy that can be utilized as a handle.
The Safer Swimmer buoy comes with an adjustable waistband that attaches to the buoy with a small buckle.
It is one size fits all solution is present.
The waist band has two nice big buckles, so putting it on is easy even for people with bigger hands.
It fits very well over your wetsuits as well.
There is also a sliding clip on the belt which is attached to a short non-adjustable connector which in turn attaches the belt to the float.
If you position the belt buckle to the side (instead of to the front as normal), you will notice that you have a smooth path for the belt clip to move from your back to the front, so if you need to switch from freestyle to backstroke and vice versa, nothing is hindering your movement.
To assemble and put into use the product is as simple as 1,2,3.
It takes about 1 minute of your time, including filling the dry bag with your desired items.
Here are the simple steps:
Store all the items you would like to keep dry in the bottom of the storage compartment
Roll the top of the bag over a few times to create a watertight seal and buckle the main bag buckle.
One thing to note here, make sure to start the roll of the seal towards the inflator tube, otherwise, the bag will have a bit more resistance since it won't be as smooth on the side which is in the water.
Inflate the device with your mouth and twist the inflator cap to close
Adjust your waist belt to snuggly fit above your hips as well as the distance you want to float to have behind you.
Have an enjoyable and most importantly a safe swim
Storing the SaferSwimmer is very easy as well.
If you swam in salty water, to prolong the life of the material and not let the salt eat its way through it, I would suggest thoroughly rinsing the float with fresh water.
Take your stuff out of the dry storage compartment, slowly deflate the buoy by unscrewing the inflator tube cap,.
When fully deflated and properly dried (ideally not on direct sunlight), fold it over a few times to get it into a manageable size.
Now you have a very small, pocket-size item which you can store in your car's trunk or a swim bag which is ready to be used next time you are out for a swim.
1) Open water swimming
If you are an avid ocean, sea, lake, pond or river swimmer, I'd strongly encourage you to check out the TPU (heavy duty) safety device as you never know what currents, cramps or other irregularities could occur in your swim.
As they say, better be safe than sorry.
2) Swim lessons
Simply attach it to your waist and get into the pool to do your swim lesson exercises totally undisturbed by the floating device.
When you feel scared or tired, just grab onto the buoy, roll on your back and start floating to gather composure.
3) Children safety
Safety around the pool should belong to basic education for any child during their younger years.
Many swimming lessons programs do very well with teaching children about safety, however, nothing is 100%.
So, if you are worried to let your kids swim on their own or if you would like to improve your child's swimming skills, the SaferSwimmer could be a good answer to this.
Instead of your child using the arm floaties or a kickboard where they have a horrible positioning of their body for swimming, they could use the swim safety float.
Thus, have a backup solution if they need to take a rest.
However, note that you should never let your kids swim unsupervised if they are not good swimmers, no matter what floating devices they have on.
Now everyone can enjoy peacefully floating above the coral reef without the fear of not surviving a fatigue and drowning.
Just strap the safety product around your waist and get yourself lost in the wonders of the underwater world without worrying a boat will run into you.
5) Swim trekking, island hopping, open-water orienteering
Even if you are an advanced swimmer who is pushing the limits of the sport of swimming, taking with you the safety float is not a bad idea.
Even if it is just for the sake of having some dry items with you, the safety feature could be just a plus as you never know what could happen.
The newer sport on the block is SwimRun.
When you train for these races, it is important to keep hydrated and fed, so the smaller version of SaferSwimmer is a perfect solution to take with you.
It can even be attached over the shoulder during your runs.
Alternatively, you can opt-in for a buoy with backpack straps, such as this SwimRun buoy.
7) Group swimming
If the leader and a few other people in a group wear these tow floats, it is easy for everyone else to navigate during the swim.
The fastest swimmers will know where the end of the group is and the stragglers, on the other hand, will see how far ahead the leaders are.
8) Swimming and Triathlon events
Open water swimming races have risen in popularity in recent years and with it also the danger of someone not judging their skills properly and entering a race they should not be in.
The SaferSwimmer can be a good tool for the organizers to help keep a certain aspect of safety for the event as well as a nice memory product for the participants to take with them home after the race.
I'd urge all event organizers to consider using these safety buoys to promote safer sport.
All and all, the SaferSwimmer tow float is a great addition to the swimming or snorkeling gear kit for anybody who wants to feel safer in the water.
The float combined together with the Aquaspotter safety belt from GoatGear might just be the answers to the water safety needs of all open swimmers.