A Lap Pool on a String?

Swimming exercise method and tether therefor
Patent Number: US 5846167 A
Filed Dec 29, 1997 – Issued Dec 8, 1998
Inventors: You Ching Liu, Samuel O. Engels
U.S. Classification: 482/55; 482/111
6 claims

Figures 1-4 are diagrams of the front and back of the harness, the tether and how the two look when in use.

Are you a swimmer that doesn’t have access to a big lap pool? Do you struggle with keeping your hips up at the surface for the most efficient stroke method? If you answered yes to one or both questions, then the swimming tether is the patent for you. The swimming tether allows you to swim in a confined space, while promoting efficient stroking technique.

The tether can be broken down into three key components: harness, line, and anchor. The latter two components are simple, an elongated, Y-shaped line with a hook or clip at all three ends for two attachment points on the swimmer and one to a fixed supporting object. These two components alone allow for someone to swim in place without moving, due to the constant horizontal reaction force that the line provides. Basically, you are playing tug-of-war with the wall. However, the claim that these two components provide, anchoring the swimmer helps you swim in place, is no different from any other swimming tether on the market. What gives this product the advantage is the claim that the harness provides; gives you the ability to swim in a more efficient technique. The harness attaches the swimmer to the line in a novel way. The harness fits around the torso like a normal vest in the front, and protrudes a little lower than the waist in the back. There are two anchor points on the shoulders to allow for the translation of your swimming force into the line. There is a loop located in the middle of the back just below the hip for the line to be freely threaded through. That loop functions to keep the hips up for stroke efficiency. There is no horizontal force at the hips because it is not a fixed anchor point. The tension in the line induces a normal force on the hips which keep them in line with the shoulders.

I choose this patent because it gives me flashback of training for varsity swimming in high school. Doing pulling drills on sprint days included tying a rope around our waists with the other end tied to the wall and we would have to sprint our hearts out for 30 seconds. It was terrible because the constant tension on our hips caused our legs to sink making us work much harder with our shoulders to keep us afloat and propel us forward. “You want to train like you race” our coach always said, so why were we training with our hips down trying to stop ourselves from drowning?

This patent takes the benefits of swimming in place and perfects them. By attaching to your shoulders and threatening the line through the loop at your hips, it automatically positions you for the most efficient stroke. This product can benefit a wide range of people from athletes to average Joes. People with space restrictions can use this for simulating swimming long distances without a lap pool. Athletes can use it for better training by being able to focus more on technique rather than drowning. By allowing the user to stay in shallow water, use proper form with ease, and its simplicity, this product is ideal for elderly, novices, and injured people for rehab or strength training.

The full patent can be viewed here

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