Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Swimming Security Blanket

I use a swim aid when I swim in open water, even at triathlons! Yep, I wear a floatation device around my waist and it is USAT approved.

This is not the device I use!

This is!

When I first started swimming - again, at the age of 49 - it was in a pool. I was not scared. After all, at the gym pool I could touch the bottom and the edge was close by for an easy grab.

No worries here!

But this worries me!

Not only can I not touch the bottom, but there is no edge to grab! Not only that, but someone could hit me or kick me! And what if I have a medical emergency and can't keep myself afloat?

I have seen the statistics and I don't want to be one.

During this past summer, it was reported that nine people died while participating in triathlons in the United States. Of the nine, all but one died during the swim portion of the race. USA Triathlon has appointed a panel of race directors and doctors to investigate the deaths.
In most cases, the official cause of death was cited as drowning, though some of the triathletes were found to have a minor heart abnormality, which could be a possible contributor.

Most of the articles I read said PANIC ATTACKS were probably the main reason the athletes drowned.

Yikes! I am working on it, but I sometimes still get a little LOT panicked at the start of a triathlon swim.

This from the Associated Press: In the water, despite having lifeguards and water safety personnel nearby in boats or kayaks, it is tough to see someone struggling among all the splashing bodies, which look virtually identical in their wetsuits and race-issued swim caps. When a person in distress is spotted, it takes additional precious seconds to get that person to shore, where there are defibrillators and ambulances.

But I feel secure because I wear this:

Here I am at TriRock San Diego with my guy on my left, and my Triathlon Connection friends. You can see my orange belt.

And here I am at the Desert International Triathlon with my fabulous Triathlon Connection buddies. My orange SwimSafe belt is securely wrapped around me.

If something happens to me out there in the open water someone is going to notice me. I know that at any moment I can pull the string and I will be wearing a bright yellow life vest. Yes, I will be DQ'd if I activate the SwimSafe. But if it is between my life and a DQ, well, I'll take the Did Not Finish on the triathlon, not on my life!

Surprisingly, besides my Triathlon Connection friends, no one at a triathlon has ever asked me about the obvious orange belt.

The information on the Tri-Aid website says that once the belt is activated it will provide 16 pounds of flotation in less than 5 seconds. It weighs 11.5 ounces.

She looks better in the belt than I do!
I  have NEVER had to pull the activation handle.

The device is reusable by attaching a new CO2 cartridge.

Ron Shea
Founder of
gives a review on the SwimSafe at:

I may look dorky with my orange safety belt, but swimming with my security blanket gives me
 peace of mind. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow that sounds like it might make me a little more likely to try swimming in open water.

    So far I've stuck with the little sprint tris that only require a few laps in a pool.