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The Athlete Approved Guide to Using Pull Buoys for Swimming
Pull buoys are a great tool for any swimmer. They eliminate kicking, which will strengthen your pull in the water and become more efficient in all of your strokes!
The extra buoyancy provided by a pull buoy allows swimmers to maintain proper body position. This allows you to focus on building upper-body strength, rotation, and pulling technique without having to worry about your legs sinking.
There are many different types of pull buoys you can find at the pool. Each buoy in our guide has its own unique features, and we break them down to help you determine which is best for your next swim.
Our Athlete Approved guide to using a pull buoy for swimming includes:
- The Best Overall Pull Buoy: TYR Pull Float
- The Best Technique Pull Buoy: Finis Axis Buoy
- The Best Multi-Functional Pull Buoy: Arena Swim Keel
- The Best Kick Board + Pull Buoy Combo: Arena Pull Kick
- The Best Looking Pull Buoy: Maru Pull Buoy
- The Best Buoyant Pull Buoy: Speedo Team Pull Buoy
- The Best Old School Pull Buoy: Bettertimes Pull Buoy
- The Best Kid’s Pull Buoy: Finis Pull Buoy Jr
- The Best Budget Pull Buoy: Sunlite Sports Pull Buoy
- How to Use a Pull Buoy
- Benefits of Using a Pull Buoy
- When and How Often Should You Use a Pull Buoy
BEST OVERALL PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: TYR Pull Float
The TYR Pull Float is our top overall pick for pull buoys for your swimming needs. This training tool features a large 6″ EVA foam cushion and is engineered for prolonged, extended use in the water.
This high quality pull buoy will allow you to train your upper body while you focus on your pull and rotation. The buoy provides the perfect resistance and buoyancy to help swimmers build strength and improve technique.
Invest in your swim technique and upper body strength by ordering one of these today!
The Pull Float comes in a classic black and blue color. You can also rock the red, white, and blue with stars and stripes.
BEST TECHNIQUE PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Finis Axis Buoy
The Finis Axis Buoy is our top pull buoy pick for perfecting your technique. It can be used to improve body positioning while building upper-body strength and engaging the core muscles.
It has ergonomic keyholes, a contoured design for easy grip. The duel functioning design allows you to switch between ankle floatation and traditional leg buoyancy with ease.
The lightweight EVA foam is lightly textured so it stays put in water. It is also easy on your skin!
An innovative dual-function design makes this product an excellent choice if you are looking for ways to build up your muscle mass or need some support during swimming workouts.
This is the perfect swim tool for beginners and advanced swimmers alike! The extra buoyancy when used as a traditional pull buoy between the thighs makes it easy to focus on technique. The added challenge when used around the ankles is great for those more experienced swimmers (and coaches love that it won’t allow you to sneak in any kicks).
BEST MULTI-FUNCTIONAL PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Arena Swim Keel
The Arena Swim Keel is an innovative arena-patented aquatic aid that assists in stability, core strength, and overall training. The unique multi-functional design allows you to use this swim tool in a number of creative ways!
First and foremost, the Swim Keel is a pull buoy. The weighted distribution corrects your body position both up or down. Swimmers rave about how easy they find doing a flipturn with it compared to other pull buoys.
When you flip it upside down for pulling, you can work your core by resisting it. For experience swimmers find this to help make their core even more stable.
It can also be used as a kickboard. It is not your standard kickboard + pull buoy combo like the Arena Pull Kick.
We recommend to use it with one arm out for side kicking. Place the board between two of your fingers. This gives the perfect amount of support, while not doing all the work for you. You can also use it as a standard kickboard with two hands on it.
BEST KICK BOARD + PULL BUOY COMBO FOR SWIMMING: Arena Pull Kick
The Arena Pull Kick is an innovative and ingenious training aid which combines the design of a kickboard and pull buoy into one.
All swimmers know that packing your swim bag to the pool can be a hassle. This kick board + pull buoy optimizes the room in your bag by being a two in one swim tool.
It also works great as a stand alone kickboard or pull buoy! As a kickboard it offers a variety of hand positions for developing strength and core strength. As a pull buoy it is light weight and comfortable. The foam material eliminates the chance of skin irritation.
If you are looking for a kickboard, check out our Athlete Approved kickboard article.
BEST LOOKING PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Maru Pull Buoy
The Maru Pull Buoy is a great looking pull buoy! It is a simple and durable choice for your pulling needs.
The lightweight, round design provides buoyancy while helping to improve upper body strength. Swimmers feel more comfortable in the water with this product because of its ergonomic shape that helps provide stability.
Durable non-chafing foam means it’s great for extended use!
When you’re at the pool, it’s sometimes hard to find your stuff among a sea of pull buoys. That won’t be an issue with this bright buoy that not only stands out from the crowd but also has its own signature color scheme so no one can mistake their gear for yours!
BEST BUOYANT PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Speedo Team Pull Buoy
The Speedo Team Pull Buoy is our top pick for the most buoyant pull buoy. It is a great pick for swimmers that need a little extra lift in their body position.
This pull buoy helps you stay afloat and provides the correct body position in the water which enhances your technique, strength and speed.
The durable and soft EVA foam make it built to last many pulling sets.
BEST OLD SCHOOL PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Bettertimes Pull Buoy
The Bettertimes Pull Buoy reminds us of the good old days! This time-tested pull buoy may have an old school design, but it works!
You’ll never have to stop your swim again when you use the foam cylinders on this pull buoy: the texture is super grippy and it won’t move around in water. No more stopping your swim mid-lap to retrieve your lost buoy!
You can adjust the strips to make the distance between cylinders larger or smaller depending on your preference.
Be sure to allow this buoy time to dry between swims. It tends to grow mold if you leave it in your swim bag overnight (we are all guilty of this!). But hey, chlorine kills everything, right?
BEST KID’S PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Finis Pull Buoy Jr
The Finis Jr Pull Buoy is a solid pick for any child (or adult), and could have easily been our top overall buoy. The junior size is perfect for kiddos 12 and under or smaller adults.
This foam pull buoy is a great tool to teach hip rotation while improving upper body strength. Its design provides the perfect alignment that helps with body-line symmetry as well.
The EVA construction is built to last and will not cause chafing or irritation for those who use it. Its softness, strength, durability, and affordability make it a great option for all!
BEST BUDGET PULL BUOY FOR SWIMMING: Sunlite Sports Pull Buoy
Our top pick for swimmers on a budget is the Sunlite Sports Pull Buoy. While the cost investment into any pull buoy is on the lower side, you can still save a few bucks with this Athlete Approved pick.
The buoyancy of this pull buoy is designed to be even throughout. This makes it easy for swimmers to put it on between quick intervals.
The unique and simple colors combinations allow you show off your style on your next swim!
How to Use a Pull Buoy
To properly use a pull buoy, we recommend putting in between your legs and as high as possible.
When a pull buoy is shaped with one end bigger than the other, it is designed for the bigger end to be closer to the top of the water. See below for an example of a buoy with uneven and even buoyancy distribution.
When you begin swimming, allow your legs to relax. This will allow your upper body to do most of the heavy lifting.
Swimmers can hold their buoy between their ankles to provide an extra challenge for more advanced swimmers. This will force you to keep your abs engaged, which is important if you want a strong core!
The Finis Axis Buoy is specifically designed for swimmers looking for a buoy to hold between their thighs or ankles. Although, you can do this with just about any buoy.
While many swimmers think of freestyle only when they think about pulling, there is nothing wrong with adding a pull buoy for backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
Similarly to the use in freestyle, you can refine your pull technique by using this device which will also help strengthen your upper body.
Benefits of Using a Pull Buoy
By isolating your upper body by using a pull buoy, you can focus on fine tuning your pull. Try swimming with a high elbow recovery and straight pull back for freestyle.
Pull buoys can also assist in developing rotation. As demonstrated in our favorite drill Set Up and Drive, the power from freestyle comes in the rotation.
By focusing on pulling, you will strengthen your upper body. Mixing up your training is super important to stay fresh. Adding pull sets into your workouts is critical to be a well-rounded swimmer.
Most swimmers will add paddles to maximize this concept even further. Check out our Athlete Approved Guide to Using Paddles for Swimming.
When and How Often Should You Use a Pull Buoy
Start by implementing some form of pulling into your warm up.
In our Athlete Approved article on how to write your own workouts, we recommend doing a short swim, kick set, and then pull set. Pulling should make about between 20-30% of your warm up.
Feel free to mix pull buoy and paddle work into your main set. Just be careful not to over extend your shoulders – if it does not feel right, then reduce your pulling or even eliminate it all together. If you are having any shoulder pain, it is most likely due to a flaw in your technique.
You’ll find that many of our favorite workouts include pulling sets. You will find that pull is regularly featured in these 100 Athlete Approved Swim Workouts!
Conclusion on the Best Pull Buoys for Swimmers
When you swim with a pull buoy, it will allow you to focus on building upper-body strength, rotation, and pulling technique.
Pull buoys can be used at any age or skill level. They are perfect for beginners as well as competitive athletes looking to improve their performance in the pool. Use this Athlete Approved guide to determine which is best for your swimming!
Let us know if you agree with our best picks for pull buoys for swimmers in our comm