Do I Need a Tow Float?
I am often asked questions about why I always swim and insist the people that I am coaching in open water swim with a tow float. Some say you don’t need them and it is just being over cautious but I believe it should be in every open water swimmers kit bag along with their hat and goggles - they’re just as important!
Swimming with a tow float is for safety, it is not supposed to be used as a floatation device that you can hold onto to rest but it is used for visibility. Most people locally (Cambridgeshire) swim in the local lakes or more often, the Great River Ouse or the River Cam and with that comes the risk of others using our beautiful waterways such as boats and SUPs etc. If you think about it in terms of size and visibility swimmers are the smallest thing, we are the lowest to the water and therefore the most difficult thing to see.
Imagine you're on a river cruiser and there is someone doing head down front crawl without a tow float, all that's visible is likely the alternate arms and a swimming hat, would you see them if you weren't purposefully looking for them? -Unlikely.
Now imagine that swimmer had a High-Viz luminous orange or pink floating thing behind them on the top of the water; it would look out of place in comparison to the rest of the surroundings, and the fact it looks out of place will make people notice it. By noticing the float they will look again and look closer, maybe even just out of curiosity but whatever their motive to look again means they will see the swimmer so can avoid the swimmer, potentially, saving your (the swimmers) life.
However, tow floats can be used for other things too. The main purpose may be for visibility but tow floats can also be used for other things too. On some tow floats they have a place to write emergency contact details, if, god forbid you get into trouble people can find out your identity. Certain tow floats can also be accessed from in the water which can be helpful if you need an inhaler or other medication, it can even be used for nutrition or hydration on long swims!
I always recommend Swim Secure Tow Floats, they don't fade, they don't leak and they now all have an area for emergency details. They make many different types from cylindrical ones, dry bags, a normal float and my personal favourite is the Tow Donut. The tow donut is easily accessed whilst you are swimming, it is great for putting a small bottle of drink in, your phone and a flapjack for when you’re doing long swims, it is also a nice size and with the right belt attachment it doesn’t get in the way of your legs at all when swimming.
You can find out more about the tow floats or buy one from Tri Wetsuit Hire. You can even hire one to find out what you prefer most!
Written by Sophie, Adaptive Athlete.
Find her at @SEadaptiveathlete on Facebook.