Sunday, April 19, 2015

Swim tether

The main idea of putting a swimming pool in the backyard was to be able to swim for fitness. I had several ideas on how to swim in place. Some were a little wacky, some were just out of our budget. So, this post should be entitled "Swimming treadmill on a budget" or something like that.

The ideas that didn't make it went from a full blown endless pool or swim-spa, to a current generator (Exerswim), going through a trolling motor installed in a box that would redirect the flow of water towards me. The idea of having a finger chopped off kinda took that one off the table... only after much consideration, I must say.

The desired attributes of the system were:

- Affordability,
- It had to mimic actual swimming, and
- The pool had to be small to not take the whole backyard. (This was my wife's request)

I believe that we obtained the three with our swim tether system.

So, I started out with the simplest possible idea and it seems to work. I drove a 3/4" galvanized steel EMT conduit in the ground. Then, I drilled a hole on the top and attached a "climbing" hook from the dollar store. To it, I attached two old bike inner tubes (27" wheels). I tied a not at the end and attached another hook. This hook attaches to an old belt that goes around my waist and voilà.

So, how does it work? Very well, I have been able to swim for several hours now (not at a time). It does feel like swimming, except for the breathing. You definitely need a snorkel because of the lack of a bow wave. All in all, it fits my needs for fitness and convenience.

Here is a little video of me swimming: (don't judge the technique)

Happy building... and swimming :)


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  2. I tired the same idea, only I attached the tether cord to the waterfall located at the shallow end of the pool (previous owner had build this ugly thing out of a pile of rocks for kids to sit on and get their butts wet). I was able to strap a piece of iron wire around one of the rocks and make a loop to tie the rope to. I used a bunch of bungee cords connected together (about 12 feet). I didn't have a suitable belt, so I used some soft heavy rope, not around my waist, but around my thighs like a parachute harness. (Around my waist, it kept feeling like it was going to slip off, unless tied too tight).

    It works, but I don't have any problems getting my head high enough out of the water to breath, even without the bow wave, maybe because my technique is wrong. I've never used a snorkel, guess I'll try to teach myself how.

    1. Sorry for my late response. I have issues with my shoulders, so lifting my head is hard. Maybe you just have better shoulders than me :)

      Thank you for your comment. I will try the harness idea, sounds better than the belt.

  3. Thanks for the information! I just bought a pool and want to try this. I saw your comment about your shoulders. If you're interested, try shrugging your shoulders as you swim freestyle. That will take the pressure off of your shoulders.

    1. Interesting. I have finally gotten back on the bike and slowly starting to run. If I can get back to swimming, I may take a stab at some triathlons again. Thank you!

  4. Just came across your post. Why not build some sort of cube using pvc pipe around a trolling motor propeller? One could add a net or grate for additional safety and keep a safe distance when swimming. The current would allow for more effective swim strokes and gliding through the water. I am tempted to try since I already have a trolling motor that’s hardly ever used.

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