Other than practicing turns and starts, you can do just about any workout you could do in a regular lap pool using a swim tether. You could add multiple tethers and share the fun with other swimmers at the same time.
The Swim Tether brand device comes in two sizes - original and mini. The original works better for swimming, the mini works better for water aerobic exercise, like water running.
The Swim Tether - Assembly
The base of the Swim Tether pole drops into a deck plate. This deck plate does require installation, which means either some drilling, some digging and pouring of cement, or finding another way to securely attach the pole's base to the pool deck. Multiple options are shown, along with installation instructions, on the Swim Tether website.
The pole is assembled and place in the base plate. What next? Put on the belt. The Swim Tether belt is a good design, with neoprene sleeves that pad the nylon web belt. You adjust the belt so that it is slightly loose around your lower waist or upper hips, attach the belt clip to the swim cord, then clip the other end of the cord to the upper end of the Swim Tether's pole.
Get in the pool swim your in-place workout, and then hop out and dissemble the Swim Tether. Belt off, un-clip the cord, take the pole out of the mounting plate and pull the sections apart. Hang the belt up to dry and you are done! The poles take up a little over two feet when disassembled.
Swim Tether - How It Felt
Second impression? Comfortable. The belt did not dig into the swimmers waist the way some unpadded tether belts do. The use of a pole to mount the top of the cord allowed the swimmers to use their pull and kick without getting tangled in the cord.
It was easy to rotate from face down freestyle, butterfly, and breaststroke to face up backstroke swimming, the belt does not have to be cinched tight to properly support a swimmer. This means that rotating your self from face down to face up is fairly easy.
The tall pole means that the swimmer is held in place from above and behind, not directly from behind. This may have helped the swimmer keep a better body position while swimming, and it definitely kept a high hip position in fly and breaststroke (depending upon your swimming technique, that might be a good thing, or it might be a bad thing).
The other feeling of note is a common by-product of tethered swimming. When you apply force to the water that moves you forward, you move slightly forward. When that force weakens, you move backward. If your stroke technique has bursts of force mixed with times of no force, you move forward and backward in the water. Kind of a little shuffle back and forth. This can be disconcerting until you are used to it. This may also be useful in teaching yourself how to apply steadier force through the entire stroke. While it may feel odd, it may help you the longer you use the Swim Tether.
The Swim Tether Mini and The Swim Tether Without the Pole
The Swim Tether Mini uses the same comfortable belt as the original Swim Tether. The Mini also requires the same kind of mounting plate. The Mini worked fine, just no real flex. The cord it uses is more elastic, and that gives the Mini a somewhat similar feel to its bigger sibling, but for a swim workout, it was not as good as the original size Swim Tether.
Use The Swim Tether Without the Pole?The cord and belt that come with the Swim Tether and Swim Tether Mini are not for use with only the pole. They could be attached to a secure ladder or lane line eye bolt and used for swimming or water exercise, too, although with the lower mounting position, the cord could interfere with a swimmer's kick.
The Bottom Line
The downside? Tethered swimming does not feel quite the same as regular lap swimming. There is always a little back and forth as you swim against the pole, and then it pulls you back (this might be a good thing, shows you weak points in your stroke). The clips provided are not very robust - I would expect them and / or the cord to wear out if the tether is used a lot, or it is left out in adverse weather (the flip side is these parts are easy to replace from locally available materials).
I think the Swim Tether is as good as any other tethered swim device I have seen. Its price may move it ahead of some other pole-based models.
How could you adapt traditional swim workouts to a tethered workout? Two easy ways are to either:
- Base the workout on stroke count - say 20 strokes = swimming a 50 for example.
- Base the workout on time - say 45-seconds = swimming a 50 (might need to sue a waterproof watch to cehck the time!).