Q: I used a pull buoy today for the first time… wow, what a difference that made! Faster, my breathing so much easier (both sides) and therefore far less tiring overall – but why?
A: The joys of a pull buoy! If you have ‘heavy legs’ or a less-than-perfect body position in the water, a pull buoy will lift your body to make you more streamlined – and therefore faster in the water. The flatter body position also helps with breathing. Men in particular are often much faster with a pull buoy.
But pull buoys can be false friends. You should be thinking why you are so much faster with a pull buoy and work on trying to rectify those areas of your stroke. For example, if your head is held too high then that can sink your legs, so work on developing a more neutral head position.
Pull buoys are great for concentrating on your arm stroke as you don’t have to think about your legs. Concentrate on rotating your body through the long axis using your core muscles, utilising your upper body and rotation purely for rotation.
Pull buoys are also useful when swimming with paddles (see Fiona Ford’s training article on fine tuning your catch using paddles) and other training aids such as snorkels.