For safety, it’s always good practice to swim with others in open water. But even when swimming with others, a personal swim buoy can be a handy piece of gear.
Inflatable personal swim buoys look like this:
This is a “dry bag” model.
They are becoming increasingly popular for many reasons:
- They increase your visibility. Even if you are wearing a fluorescent swim cap in the water, a bright bobbing buoy near your feet will make it easier for others to spot you.
- They make it easier for a coach or support person to monitor your progress from afar.
- Although these buoys are NOT life saving devices, they can be used for personal floatation if you suddenly cramp or get dizzy.
- Some models (like the ones shown here) have dry storage areas. You can swim with your phone, keys or some nutrition if you are going for a long swim.
I have several different models but both are basically the same. This pink one has a smaller dry storage area than the orange “swim buddy” model but has a better system for rapid deflating. Both models clip around your waist and float near your feet when you swim.
These personal swim buoys can also be used as actual buoys. I have inflated them and attached a sand filled milk jug to the waist strap and dropped them to the bottom of the lake and used them as markers on closed swim loop.
Coach Stephanie mentioned to me that she put her name and emergency contact information on her Swim Buddy. This is a great idea! We ride with road id bracelets, we should identify ourselves when swimming too!
I use these personal inflatable buoys all the time. I think they are a great idea for all open water swimmers. Here in Calgary they can be found at Tri-It Multisport and MEC.