A pull buoy is a buoyant piece of gear that is used in swim training. The buoy is usually held between a swimmer’s thighs to keep the hips and legs lifted and the feet immobile, so the swimmer can focus solely on upper body movement. While training with the buoy, the swim technique is called “pulling” because the swimmer is moving through the water using only their arms.
Triathletes, competitive swimmers and people who train occasionally use pull buoys to improve upper body strength and power. Ultimately, these little tools can improve overall speed in the pool. They can be incorporated into any swim workout, but experts warn that overuse could compromise form and lead to underdevelopment of the lower body. They recommend using the buoy for no more than 1/3 of your total pool workout.
Some swimmers have trouble keeping their legs still while using the buoy. Those who can’t keep their feet still should find a band to circle their ankles. Some swimmers move the buoy farther down their legs, so it rests between their shins, but moving the buoy down changes swim form. A buoy positioned lower means the hips and upper legs will sink lower in the water.
Buoys can be bought in most sporting goods stores or online for somewhere between $5 and $15. You can find the Aquatica Pull Buoy (pictured right) at Swimoutlet.com for $5.