Using a pull buoy in your training routine

A pull buoy can help improve your arm strength.

A pull buoy can help improve your arm strength.

When we think about swimming accessories, items like goggles and Speedo swim caps often come to mind, but there are many other products available that can improve your skills in the water. One item, a pull buoy, can strengthen your upper body, and help you develop a more effective stroke. 

What is it?

A pull buoy is a floatation device that is held between a swimmer's legs. Some products come in a figure-eight shape, but another common configuration consists of two pieces of foam connected by an adjustable strap. When an athlete uses a buoy it holds his or her hips and legs at the surface of the water. 

How does it improve your stroke?

During workouts with a pull buoy, you only have to use your arms to move forward in the water. Because you don't have to worry about kicking, you can focus your attention on your upper body. Omitting kicking also helps a swimmer – especially those new to the sport – with breathing. Concentrating on arm work, at least at the beginning, will help you relax and learn how to breathe properly between strokes. 

If you do choose to add buoy training to your swim workouts, remember that its purpose is to improve technique. Try to keep laps with pull buoys to 25 percent or less of the total number of laps in a workout. Using them too much may give a swimmer a false sense of balance and discourage good posture. 

After using a pull buoy for a few weeks, you should feel stronger and more confident with your strokes.