What is a Pull Buoy?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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A pull buoy is a helpful flotation device for swimmers. It is a piece of foam that swimmers attach to the lower body. The pull buoy causes the lower body to float, putting more of a burden on the upper body. Using a pull buoy helps develop the upper body in swimming.

The pull buoy is similar to another tool for swimmers, which is called the kickboard. A kickboard is generally made of similar materials, and has a similar purpose as the buoy. The kickboard allows the upper body to float, putting more of a burden on the lower body. The swimmer holds onto the kickboard and uses the legs in various kinds of swimming strokes.

Some swimmers may actually use a kickboard in place of a buoy for working the upper body. If the swimmer can somehow attach the kickboard to the legs, it will work somewhat like a buoy. The pull buoy is better than a kickboard for working the upper body because it is engineered to be used with the lower body. This tool is often in a figure eight shape that the swimmer can hold between the legs, and some have straps or other attachments that help to ensure solid application. The buoy device is also less bulky than a kickboard, and many kickboard designs will not fit easily between the legs.


In advanced uses, the buoy is sometimes tied to the legs so that they do not kick. Using these kinds of tools can help a swimmer develop more speed and skill by isolating areas of the body and training them individually.

A pull buoy should not be confused with a pool buoy. The pool buoy is a floating object that demarcates the edge of a swimming or diving area in a pool. Pool buoys are also used to lay out swimming lanes or aisles. These two different types of buoys sound roughly the same when pronounced, which can lead to some confusion.

As a popular swimming implement, the pull buoy can be used in various ways. In freestyle swimming, the swimmer may simply hold this fitness aid between the legs, alternating rowing motions with the arms. When using the pull buoy with a breaststroke, the swimmer might utilize a kind of “reach, outward sweep, inward sweep” pattern to successfully move forward with the upper body. Experts recommend keeping the body low to reduce drag with these kinds of drills. Beginners and advanced swimmers can choose their methods for using a buoy to build the upper body in a water workout.


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