We are always looking for ways to train that incorporate good technique with extra resistance. In the olden days (the 60's and 70's) swimmers would swim with Clorox bottles tethered to their ankles with rubber straps cut from inner tubes. We would then fill the bottles with differing amounts of water for resistance. Swim coaches weren't looking ahead much in those days...they missed the manufacturing and marketing opportunity! Today all sorts of resistance devices are available. We do quite a bit of training (at least one day a week) with parachutes for drag. We are looking to build power.
While on the plane ride home from Junior Nationals this summer Ken and Don were discussing the idea of developing a suit that had pockets which could be filled with water to add weight without distorting the body's natural position and shape. Like many excellent ideas this one got shuffled to the back burner.
One of our SwimCoachDirect members turned us on to Hyper Vests about three weeks ago. And we thank you Mark! We contacted the company - you can find them at www.hyper-wear.com - and found an innovative and progressive group of folks who wanted to know more about how this would work with swimmers. They have had some swimmers use their vests during dry land training. We were interested in how they might be used in the water.
We now have several of their vests and recommend them highly after our initial testing. The vests fit comfortably. The weights can be fairly easily changed to increase resistance. One of the things we like best is that since the additional weight is distributed over the entire thoracic cavity there is very little chance for a specific muscle or joint strain occurring due to the additional weight. We are always watchful about injury due to change in resistance. These vests seem to pose no problem at all. We recommend that you kick with fins since the extra weight (up to 5 lbs) does make a significant difference in how the body rides in the water. We also suggest beginning with 25's until the stroke can be down correctly with the added weight before moving to 50's.
Remember, as in all things new, progressions are the key. Let us know what you think!