View Full Version : Help visibility for swimmer

August 23rd, 2009, 04:41 AM
I received this email from someone and I wonder if anyone would help out with an answer??? I usually wear a bright colored home made fabric waterpolo type cap when swimming along the shoreline. I never swim alone.

re: swim buoy I am looking for a streamlined buoy that can be towed behind an open-water swimmer to assist others on shore or in boats to see the swimmer. In this case, my mother, now 80, swims about a mile a day. She enjoys going to the ocean in the Caribbean and swimming out and back, quite a ways. Were she to use a tow buoy, and/or a form-fitting life vest with a depth-sensitive inflating device would provide family members more comfort. When I have been there, I kayak alongside. I'd be grateful for your advice.

August 23rd, 2009, 12:37 PM
It's an interesting question, I have no answer but I am looking forward to see what others might suggest.

Worst case, I guess she could build one home made with I dono, maybe a flag put on top of a kicking board.

Like dock tape a tight pullbuoy on top of a board, then dock tape a flag on the pullbuoy.

Otherwise, I am sure that in a recreational pool store, there are a lot of guizmos that could be used to create this sort of buoy.

Rob Copeland
August 23rd, 2009, 06:55 PM
She should look into a rescue can, as used by many beach lifeguards.

August 23rd, 2009, 09:16 PM
This thread, "OW solo training: + buoys? flags?" in the Open Water forum has some ideas

OW solo training: + buoys? flags? - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums

August 24th, 2009, 04:00 PM
What about a balloon filled with helium, and tied around the waist?

Thrashing Slug
August 24th, 2009, 04:27 PM
The balloon is a good idea, simple and cheap. It might even increase flotation :) which could make up for the added drag.

However, I have a question. What is it you're intending to accomplish? If she's 80 years old, doing an out-and-back swim in the ocean alone, she is obviously doing something risky and dangerous. It's a roll of the dice. If something happens, what is the visibility indicator intended to help with? The only thing I can think of that it might do is prevent collisions with boats, but I wouldn't trust any device to ensure my visibility. Not all boaters pay enough attention to notice. If I detected a boat nearby, I would stop and watch.

If she insists on swimming alone I would suggest a dive knife and a cheap cellphone inside a dry bag. Plus maybe the balloon for visibility. Conventional wisdom would say to wear a neon colored swim cap, but I've seen way too many fishing lures in those colors. When I swim in the ocean I wear black, make as little arm spash as possible, and try not to kick much.

August 25th, 2009, 01:26 AM
I don't know where you would go to buy one, but a couple of years ago while staying at the Rockerfeller Center on Lake Como, Italy, I swam every day in the lake. The center strongly advised swimmers to pull a plastic buoy to make themselves more visible to speedboats, and I did so a few times, though most of the time I went without and kept close to shore. Other than the ankle strap to which the buoy was tethered, I really couldn't feel its presence at all—certainly there was no drag. The buoys themselves were like inflatable plastic beach balls, but tear-shaped with a small flag at the pointy end. They were about 3 feet high and red and white striped with a 6 or 8 foot tether. They were obviously commercially made for this purpose.