Inventing The Riptide


Inventing The Riptide


Tethered swimming has been used by competitive swimmers and coaches for many decades. The first were just rope or strap tied to the swimmers waist or ankle. This resulted in a very jerky motion as the swimmer pulled against the rigid line. So some creative person chain linked several bicycle inner tubes with the swimmer hitched to one end and the other looped around something on the pool wall or deck. This worked fairly well at least it removed the jerking by providing some elasticity. Later surgical rubber replaced the inner tube. The present day tethers remain a variation of this idea although much prettier.

In place swimming is a sound idea but there has been a need for improvement in available equipment. Swimmers and coaches have demonstrated their desire for resistance swim equipment by their continued use of such products in light of all the shortcomings in performance. The high end products that have you swim against current provide an exceptional capability but even those devices offer little strength training. (As a wise man once told me “You will use more upper body strength swimming downstream than upstream.”) Dry land products build strength but only approximate the complex stroke movements and are not very portable.

In approaching the design problem I established certain criteria and felt if these could be satisfied the device would be welcomed by the swim community.

I believed the tether should:

  • Be comfortable.
  • Allow proper or natural body position in all four competitive swim strokes.
  • Not interfere with any part of the body while swimming.
  • Be portable.

COMFORT The “one size fits all” tethers now on the market are not comfortable because friction and pressure points restrict body movement. Custom fit creates a manufacturing & inventory issue but nearly all high functioning athletic equipment requires custom fitting.

BODY POSITION It is the nature of any tether to pull you further underwater the harder you swim against it. Others have tried spring poles and elevated attachments, etc. to offset this. The simple solution is a line float on the “out” end of the tether. This keeps the line tension at the surface of the water thereby creating neutral vertical forces allowing the swimmer to maintain his natural body position.

INTERFERENCE It was mandatory to find a way to attach the tether to the swimmer that totally eliminated interference between the line and the swimmer. It seemed obvious that the soles of the feet were the only part of the body that would allow attachment without interfering with any of the four competitive swim strokes.

PORTABILITY In considering portability, machine like concepts which are typically heavy, large or complex were eliminated. I looked to readily available materials that could be arranged or modified in a way to satisfy the design requirements.

SOLUTION RIPTIDE is a 3/8” diameter, 8 foot long marine grade stretch cord with a line float fixed at one end and stainless steel carabineers a both ends. Rugged water shoes, sized to fit, with 2 feet of 400 pound test monofilament line attached to the sole of each shoe by way of brass grommets for reinforcement. The monofilament line from the shoes clip into the float end carabineer.

So there you have it. Sweet & Simple! RIPTIDE is a stationary swim tether that is comfortable, allows for proper body position, has no line interference and is portable. In use it will accommodate your stroke technique while providing varied resistive forces to increase endurance and build upper and lower body strength.

If you'd like to view a streaming video which shows the RIPTIDE in action, click link below: