Best Swim Training Gear of 2020

Does Your Swim Training Gear Really Matter?

So you may be a purist… getting by with just a swimsuit, towel and goggles.  That’s great. With effort and knowledge you can become a great swimmer with that limited bit of equipment.  That said, incorporating additional swim training gear into your routine can do a lot to improve your stroke, build strength and conditioning, keep workouts interesting…. or just give you something new to talk about with the swimmers in your lane. This article reviews some of the best swim training gear that you may want to add to your swim bag.

Kickboard: Ray-Board

Ray-Board is the newest kickboard available for those looking make kick sets an important part of their swim training.  Ray-Board’s ergonomic design positions your elbows several inches lower and wider than with traditional flat kickboards.  This takes stress off of your shoulders, neck and back.  While using Ray-Board your upper body truly gets to rest, allowing you to focus on your kick.  It’s simply the most comfortable kickboard you can use.

Paddles: Speedo Nemesis Contour Paddles

Speedo paddles have always been great, but the contouring of the Nemesis model makes them even better.  Their shape positions them on your hands naturally, and the straps provide the necessary additional support.  They are big enough that you can really feel the water, but not so big that they disrupt your natural stroke. They are reasonably priced and are available in three sizes.

Fins: Finis Z2 Gold Zoomers

You might not have expected to see significant innovation in swim flippers, but the Finis Z2 Gold Zoomers achieve a meaningful advancement.  The unique “flex box” on the underside of the flipper catches water on the up kick, which is intended to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes. Stiffening ribs allow your full foot to generate power without hyperflexing or fatiguing the forefoot.  They are available in many sizes so you can get the perfect fit.

Pull Buoy: They are all okay

Pull buoys can be useful training tools, and all competitive swimmers should have one, but there just isn’t much difference between them.  One gear review website scored the top nine pull buoys between 88.4 and 90.6 on a 0-100 point scale. So essentially the same rating. Most have similar shape, density and stiffness.  A couple are designed for dual use as pull buoys and kickboards, but as is often true for hybrid products, they don’t do either particularly well.  Perhaps this is an area for future innovation.

Snorkel: MP FOCUS Swim Snorkel

You may not see a lot of swim snorkels at your pool, but don’t let that turn you off to them. After you acquired the basic swim gear and you’re looking for your next piece of equipment, you may want to try a swim snorkel… and the MP Focus is a great place to start.  A lot of thought went into this design.  It comfortably fits the face and mouth, stay steady as you swim, and doesn’t take on a lot of water.  This allows you to truly focus on your stroke.

Goggles: Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored

As you get more competitive you may consider owning more than one pair of goggles.  The Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 goggles provide a low profile inner-eye fit,  wide visibility, and anti-fog design that makes these performance goggles the go to piece of equipment for days when performance matters. As you’d expect, Speedo provides exceptional design and engineering at a reasonable price.  You could spend more if your simply looking to intimidate other swimmers, but for most swimmers the Vanquisher 2.0 is hard to beat.

Bag: Speedo Teamster Swim Bag

You probably shouldn’t be shoving all this new swim gear it into an old worn out gym bad.  You need a dedicated swim bag.  If you’ve spent much time around a club swim team you’ve likely seen dozens of this Speedo swim bag, and likely in just as many different colors.  These bags have plenty of compartments for your dry and wet gear, and its available int two sizes, one that’s perfect for kids and another for adults. With so many patterns available you can simultaneously join the crowd and express your unique style.

Lap Counting Watch: Garmin Swim 2

We love the small profile of this Garmin watch.  The features support serious swim analytics, but will also provide basic tracking for your run, bike, steps, sleep, etc.  You can preload swim workouts.  It’s rest and stroke detection functions work reliably.  It has wrist based heart rate detection, and optionally connects to a chest based heart rate sensor if you want really accurate data. It tracks both pool work outs and open water swims. This tech gets stronger every year, and the Garmin Swim 2 delivers a lot of functionality.

Safety Float: Kiefer Saferswimmer Open Water Swim Buoy

This is a must for open water swimmers.  Seriously…. Safety first. Sure, you may be an amazing athlete who never gets cramps, or who hate how it feels to be dragging a buoy, but it only takes one time for this product to be worth the expense and effort.   If COVID-19 has you swimming in open water instead of in a pool, please consider using a swim buoy.

Kiefer Saferswimmer® Large Open Water Swim Buoy

Other Stuff

There are plenty more gadgets and gizmos for you to spend your money on.  Let us know what other swim training gear you recommend.  Just drop us a note on the Contact Page. We’re always keen to try new things.

Best Large Kickboard for Swimming – 2020

Not All Kickboards are Equal

Swim kickboards come in different shapes and sizes, and serve different purposes in swim training.  If you’re unfamiliar with the many types of kickboards check out this review. Many swimmers prefer a large kickboard, one that is thick and buoyant and positions the body high in the water. In this article we discuss reasons to use a large kickboard, and which thick kickboards are best for you.

Reasons to Use a Thick Kickboard

When asked what type of kickboard they prefer, many swimmers say “I like a thick kickboard”, or “I only swim with a large kickboard”. What they mean is that they like kickboards with a lot of buoyancy. They want a swim kickboard that supports their body, keeps their head out of the water and lets them relax their arms. With less buoyant kickboards you end up holding the kickboard further away from your body to achieve the same effect…. but extending your arms straight out lap after lap is extremely tiring and uncomfortable.

For swimmers using a kickboard as part of swim therapy, a thicker kickboard makes it easier to stay afloat and focus on the muscles or motions that need rehabilitation. The larger kickboard may help them exercise longer, and hopefully recover more quickly.

Which Kickboard is Most Buoyant?

Most quality kickboards are made from foams with similar density, typically about 4 pounds per cubic foot. To generate more buoyancy or “float”, a kickboard needs to displace more water.  It needs to be wider, longer, thicker, or some combination of all three. The total volume of the kickboard is what really matters. Below is a comparison of volumes for several popular kickboards, measured in cubic inches.  You’ll see that there is a big range, from about 75 cubic inches up to 375 cubic inches.

  • Finis Alignment Kickboard: 75 cubic inches. This is one of the smallest kickboards available. It’s designed to improve your streamline position, not to keep you afloat during normal kicking drills.
  • TYR Hydrofoil Kickboard: 160 cubic inches.  This minimalist board is about half the size of standard kickboards.  Its shape offers multiple hand positions, but to stay high in the water you need to swim with your arms fully extended and kick hard.  No relaxed, comfortable kicking with this kickboard.
  • Standard Blue Kickboard (Speedo Team Board and others): 220 cubic inches. These kickboards can be found at almost any pool. They are the standard against which other design are compared. They are all about the same size and shape, and many swimmers find them do be less buoyant than they would like.
  • Thick or Large Kickboards (Kemp and others): 260 cubic inches.  These boards are a little longer, wider and thicker than standard  kickboards. They allow you to flow higher in the water, but they suffer from the same limitations of all flat kickboards.
  • Ray-Board: 375 cubic inches. The NEW Ray-Board is more than 50% larger than standard kickboards. It’s unique shape also provides benefits over flat kickboard designs, so you don’t feel like you’re pushing a barge down the swim lane.  We’ll tell you more about Ray-Board in a moment.

Small and Large Kickboards

TYR Hydrofoil Kickboard, Standard Blue Kickboard, Finis Alignment Kickboard, Ray-Board

Why are Some Kickboards so Thin?

So you may be asking yourself, “Why are some kickboards so thin and flexible and wimpy?  Why aren’t all kickboards more buoyant?”.  There are two simple reasons and they both relate to money.  First, large kickboards are more expensive to make.  They require more material and bigger machines.  Consequently, manufactures find that they can minimize their costs by making smaller kickboards…. even if this means that the design isn’t great for swimmers.  Also, big kickboards are expensive to ship, sometimes even more than it costs to make them. By making kickboards small and thin the suppliers can fit more per box and make more profit.

How is Ray-Board Different?

Ray-Board is 50% larger than standard kickboards. This makes it easier for you to stay afloat.  Ray-Board also has a unique shape.  It places your elbows in a wide, bent position that allows your shoulder muscles to relax.  Your elbows are also low in the water, which makes it easier to comfortably raise your head, or to swim with your head in the water as you would with a normal freestyle stroke.  This significantly reduces stress on your neck and back.  The combination of superior buoyancy and unique ergonomic design makes Ray-Board the best kickboard for swimmers who prefer large kickboards.

Ray-Board is sized to provide comfort and keep you buoyant

My Pools Opening. Important Tips to Getting “Back to Pool” after COVID-19

Yeah! Its’ time to get “Back to Pool”

With pools opening around the country, it’s time to think about getting back to serious swim training. Except for those fortunate enough to have access to a backyard pool or open water swimming, COVID-19 has caused most of us to be out of the water for months.  It’s been disappointing and annoying for recreational swimmers, and life altering for competitive national and international level competitors.  As our community pools begin to allow lap swimming, we thought it helpful to provide some important tips for going “Back to Pool”.

Pools Opening. Get Back in the Pool

Follow the rules

Rules for getting back in the pool will vary by state.  Learn what the rules are for your pool. Many pools are beginning to post reopening guidelines on their websites.  Give them a read and call your pool if you have questions.   Common rules will be mandatory showering and fewer swimmers per lane.  Realize that as we learn more about COVID-19 these rules many change.  Be patient. Also understand that some of these rules may feel inconvenient.  Don’t blame the lifeguards, or even the pool management.  That’s not helpful.

Adjust your expectations you’ll find your swims more enjoyable. Some of the rules may feel stupid or unnecessary.  It’s great that you have a PhD in epidemiology, or that your sister-in-law is an intensive care doctor, but arguing about the rules isn’t gonna help. Breaking the rules only risks getting your pool shut down again…. and no one wants that.  If you have questions about the risk of COVID-19 in water there are a number of great resources including ones from the CDC and US Masters Swimming.

Be encouraging

We’ve all been through a lot recently. Some more than others. And we all react differently to stressful, life-changing situations like COVID-19.  As you get back in the pool, remember that swimming is a communal sport.  Whether you participate on an organized team or just nod hello to the swimmers in the neighboring lanes, swimming is better when everyone is having fun.  Ask  how your fellow swimmers are doing (with appropriate social distancing of course).  Find out how they’ve been affected.  By being  be kind, compassionate, and encouraging you may just make someones day.

Don’t try to make up for lost time all at once

Even if you’ve been crushing it on the running trails, or owning your Peleton workouts, your swim fitness has likely suffered. As you get back in the pool, consider your swim workouts as a NEW fitness activity.  And as with any new workout, to avoid injury it is important to slowly build intensity, duration, and frequency. Write down a plan. Set reasonable goals for yourself.  That way you won’t be enticed to pound out 5000 yards during your first practice back in the water.  And you won’t get upset when your 100 splits are not where they were last summer.  In time, we’ll all regain our swim fitness.

And lastly….Treat yourself to some new gear

Do those new Speedo or Jolyn swimsuits you bought 3 months ago still have the tags on them.  Get ready… It’s almost time to show off your new attire.  And if you don’t have any new swim gear now is a great time to treat yourself. Starting back after a long break is a time to work on refining your technique, and there are a number of products to help, including fins, paddles, snorkels and kickboards.  Who knows, you may find them so helpful that they become a regular part of your workout.

One product that just became available this year is Ray-Board, a comfortable kickboard that puts your body in the proper swim position and reduced neck, shoulder and back pain. To celebrate your pools opening, we are offering a “Back to Pool” sale.

Foam Kickboard – Choose the Best Material

Foam Kickboards – Are all foams the same?

Swim kickboards typically come in one of four materials. Although they are all foams, they are not all the same.  The material used in your foam kickboard will affect its performance and durability.   This article should help you decide which foam kickboard is right for you. A few terms you’ll hear throughout this article.

  • Density – A foam’s density is a measure of its weight per volume. The lower the density the more air it has within it and the more buoyant it is.
  • Stiffness – Foams come in a range of stiffness’s. Some are rigid (i.e. highly stiff) so they don’t bent during use.  Others are quite soft (i.e. low stiffness) and are easily bent.
  • Durability – This is relates to how long the foam will last. Some foams are easy to break and thus aren’t great for performance kickboards.  Other foams are not resistant to water or chemicals (e.g. chlorine) and will lose their durability with time.

EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate)

EVA foam is the most commonly used material for kickboards.  It comes is a variety of densities and stiffness’s.  These properties depend on how the kickboard is manufactured.  Some are produced by thermoforming, which cuts and presses a flat foam sheet into the desired shape.  These can be stiff, but they need to be flat and featureless.  Others are molded, which allows for more interesting shapes, but results in a less stiff kickboard.  The cost of molding is greater than thermoforming. Other products made from EVA include running shoes. Most kickboards from TYR, Speedo and Finis are made from EVA.

EPP (expanded polypropylene)

EPP foam is a highly versatile foam that provides a unique range of properties, including outstanding buoyancy, strength to weight ratio, impact resistance, and chemical resistance.  It is also 100% recyclable. Different from EVA, EPP can be molded into complex shapes while retaining stiffness. This is why Ray-Board is made of EPP.  Other products made from EPP include foam rollers used in gyms.  When seeking 3D shapes, high stiffness, and durability, EPP kickboards are an excellent solution.

EPP Material for Foam Kickboard

EPS (expanded polystyrene)

EPS, which is commonly called Styrofoam®, is rigid and highly buoyant.  Unfortunately this low cost material is also easy to break, which makes is less than ideal for a swim kickboard.  Children’s kickboards with applied graphics are often made from EPS, but these are typically not suitable for swim training.

EPE (expanded polyethylene)

EPE is a low quality foam commonly used to make swim “noodles”.  It is soft and flexible and very inexpensive.  Some kid and novelty kickboards are make from EPE, but it is not commonly used for performance products.

So Which Foam Kickboard Should You Choose?

We are admittedly biased, but Ray-Board has a lot of things going for it beyond the material. It’s unique design puts your body in the correct and most comfortable position for kicking.  Forget about the sore neck, back or shoulders that are common with flat kickboards. Ray-Board will have you kicking in comfort.

RayBoard Reviews – 2020

RayBoard Reviews from Across the Web

Searching for the right kickboard? We’ve compiled RayBoard reviews from swimmers of all abilities.  We hope these comments can help you decide whether Ray-Board is the right kickboard for you. Visit the social media links for even more reviews.

By the way…. we don’t care whether you type RayBoard or Ray-Board or Ray Board, but sometimes the internet does care, so we’ve tried to include various styles throughout the page to help people find these reviews. 

RayBoard Reviews

Ray-Board reviews sent by satisfied customers:

Here is one from a former D1 swimmer and school record holder.

I use the RayBoard on a regular basis.  The first time using the RayBoard I noticed immediately how relaxed I felt in my shoulders, upper back and neck.  Using a traditional kick board would leave me fatigued, especially after long kick sets. The RayBoard is a well thought out design.  Never did I think there would be a better alternative to the traditional kick board until I used the RayBoard.

A masters swimmer from Connecticut

I used to hate using a kickboard, so I neglected my board during training. But with Ray-Board, I now made kicking part of every workout, which has done wonders for my endurance.

A masters swimmer from Connecticut

I usually feel pinching between my shoulder blades with I use a kickboard.  With this board, the pain immediately went away.

Neck pain from flat kickboard

A high school and club swimmer

Kick sets are always a big part of our workouts so I consistently had pain in my shoulders after practice.  When I trained on my own, I tried to avoid using a kickboard. But Ray-Board has allowed me to comfortably work on kicking, which I believe has helped my overall speed and form.

 

Comments and Reviews from Facebook

More to come….

 

Comments and Reviews from Instagram

More to come

 

Comments and Reviews from TikTok

School age swimmers are starting to learn about Ray-Board on TikTok.  Ray-Board explainer videos consistently receive 100,000+ views.

This product looks really good

This is so cool!  I want one.

FINALLY!

I need thisss

Thank you so much.

OMG! I need this so badly! My whole team needs this.  No one else will understand the bad back and stomach pain.

That. Is. Such. A. Good. Idea.

 

Comments and Reviews from Twitter

Here is a strong endorsement from samSport, manufacturer of a therapeutic ultrasound system used by professional athletes (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL), NCAA programs, and Olympic teams.

We support young-inventors innovating in sports medicine and athletic training. Checkout @myrayboard for this new innovative design to assist professional and college swimmers in training harder and smarter. Inspired by natural biomechanics and human ergonomics. ray-board.com

 

Please send us your Rayboard reviews.  We always appreciate the feedback.

 

Best Kickboard for Triathletes

Triathletes: To Kick or Not to Kick?

This article discusses the importance of improving your swim kick through proper training.  It also explains why Ray-Board is the best kickboard for triathletes who want to improve their swim performance.

For triathletes who didn’t spend their youth on a swim team, achieving an efficient swim stroke may seem like an elusive goal.  You spend hour after hour grinding away the laps, with little improvement in your split times or “feel” in the water.   Even as your overall fitness improves, you’re still not becoming the fish you’d like to be.

It all starts with technique. Unless you’re already swimming near the front of the pack, you’re better off spending effort toward improving your swim form than simply muscling out yardage.  And for many triathletes, a big contributor to poor form is an ineffective kick

A Quick Test

Time how long it takes to swim a length with a comfortable freestyle stroke.  Then grab a kickboard and repeat the distance with only your kick.

For some of you this will be a wake-up call.  Did it take you twice as long to kick that 25 or 50?  If so, your kick is a major problem.  You have two options:  (1) Turn your kick off.  If you’re not kicking, at least it can’t work against you.  Or (2) fix your kick so that its playing on the same team as the rest of your body.

Plenty of triathlon coaches will suggest simply dragging your legs behind you is good enough.  They argue that you have limited time in the pool each week, and they are not trying to turn you into a “real swimmer”.  But wouldn’t it be nice to glide through the water with a smooth rhythmic kick, perfectly in concert with the rest of your stroke?  If you’re ready to put in a little extra work to have a fully efficient stroke, then keep reading.

What is the best kickboard for triathletes?

To improve your swim kick you’re going to need to do some kicking drills, and these means using a kickboard. If you’ve never used a kickboard you may want to learn the basics.  Assuming you understand the basics, let’s discuss how kicking drills can help triathletes.

Benefit #1: Improve your Form

Problems with your kick can be disguised by a strong arm stroke, but when using a kickboard these problems are amplified and become easy to identify.  For example, do you careen to one side during the kicking drill?  If so, your kick is not symmetric. Are you rocking back and forth like an unstable canoe?  Your core muscles are not doing a good job of stabilizing your body position.

During kicking drills, resist the urge to simply throw your effort into a higher gear.  Don’t stress the clock (do you really know what a good time is for 100y kick repeats?). Instead, experiment with your form.  Are your feet fully plantar flexed (toes pointed)? Are you legs moving like you’re on a bicycle (they shouldn’t be)?

Benefit #2: Increase your Strength

Are your legs spent after using the kickboard for a 25 or 50?  This means that you’ve been overly reliant on your pull.  It’s time to get your legs involved.  The leg strength you developed as runner and cyclist doesn’t necessarily translate to a swim kick.  The range of motions are different and swimming involves some different muscles.  Consistently doing kicking drills will build that strength.

Initially you may not be able to kick for very long.  Try mixing in short kicking drills several times throughout your workout.  This isolates your let muscles, but then allows them to recover.   As you gain strength and endurance, try longer kick sets.  If you put an extended kick session at the end of the workout you can consider it a mini “all-swim” brick workout.

Benefit #3: Add Some Variety

Triathletes typically excel at being in their own heads for hours at a time.  In the pool its not uncommon to see a triathlete swim their entire workout head in the water at a steady pace.  But as discussed, that’s not the best use of your pool time. Competitive swimmers frequently switch up strokes.  This allow for muscle and mental recovery, letting them swim at a higher level of exertion.  This is more challenging for triathletes since many don’t swim multiple strokes. Kicking a 100-200 several times during a workout can provide mental break that allows you to refocus your effort.

So if you’re now bought into trying a few kick sets you may find yourself asking “Are there different types of kickboards?”  There are likely a couple dozen kickboards in a damp closet at your local pool.  Before you grab one and start kicking, consider this: triathlon coach John Wood wrote in an article on 220triathlon.com:

“The main reason that I don’t use kickboards while swimming or coaching is that it promotes a poor body position. Wherever your hands sit on a float, your shoulders will be raised out of the water somewhat (which can put stress on the muscles and joints).”

So now what? How do I practice my kicking if kickboards are part of the problem? Is there a kickboard that promotes good body position and doesn’t stress your shoulders and neck?

Meet Ray-Board™ – The Best Kickboard for Triathletes

Ray-Board is the preferred kickboard of triathletes and competitive swimmers.  It was designed to address all of the concerns listed by coach Wood.  It’s unique shape lowers your elbows to a more natural and comfortable position that promotes horizontal body alignment.  This puts your legs in the proper position without having to arch your back and crane your neck.  The design even allows you to swim with  your head in the water as you would with a normal swim stroke.  When using Ray-Board you focus on the kicking drill, not on trying to find a comfortable position and counting the seconds until the drill is over. Are you ready to start using the best kickboard for triathletes?

How to Use a Kickboard and What You Might be Doing Wrong

You’re likely reading this article for one of two reasons. (1) You’re unfamiliar with kickboards. Maybe you saw someone using one at the local pool. Now you’re interested in learning the basics. Or (2), you’ve used a kickboard, aren’t a big fan, and are checking online to see if you’re using it correctly.  Whether it’s number one or two, this article should help you learn how to use a kickboard.

Why use a Kickboard?

Kickboards are not safety flotation devices and they are not pool toys (even though it’s kind of fun to try to stand on them, or to see how high you can shoot them out of the water).  Kickboards are for swim training. Using a kickboard lets you rest your arms while you keep your heart up.  This can be great for swimmers who don’t have the skill or fitness to swim freestyle continuously.  It’s the basic advice we learned from Dory in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming”.

The other reason to use a kickboard is to improve the strength and efficiency of your kick. Without your arms to help pull you through the ware, you’ll quickly figure out how much your kick is contributing to your speed. Do you drift left or right when you kick? You may have an unbalanced kick. Are your legs dead after kicking a few laps? You may need to increase your leg strength.  By focusing on your kick you can see substantial improvements in your overall swimming.

How to Use a Kickboard: The Basics

Learning how to use a kickboard is straight-forward:

  • Grab the kickboard near the front end
  • Stretch your arms out straight in front of you
  • Push off from the wall and start kicking
  • As you kick, work to keep your body horizontal with your legs near the surface
  • Kick evenly and with your full leg, not just your calves.

What you Might be Doing Wrong an How to Fix It

Two common complaints from kickboards user are (1) “This is so uncomfortable!  I have to stop” and (2) “I’m kicking hard but not going anywhere!”.  Here are a few suggestions on how to use a kickboard correctly:

  • Using a kickboard can be painful, particularly through your neck and back. Try to minimize any arching of your back or neck.  Unfortunately this can be difficult if you’re working to to keep your feet near the surface and also need to keep your head out of the water.  You may need to stop periodically to stretch.
  • Similarly, kicking with your arms fully extended can lead to shoulder pain. It’s good technique to maintain fully extended arms while your in a streamline coming off a turn, but that only lasts for a few seconds.  That’s not a position that you should hold lap after lap.  To reduce this discomfort, hold the kickboard with slightly bent arms.
  • If you’re getting nowhere fast with your kick, make sure you kick with your full leg. Your kick should initiate at your hip, not your knee.  New swimmers often bend their knees way to much when kicking, sometimes moving like they are pedaling a bike.  Have someone watch your kick from underwater to tell you what they see.  Or better yet, have them film your kick.
  • Be aware of the Goldilocks rule regarding leg position.  Too high or too low in the water you’re going to have problems.  If your entire lower leg is out of the water during each stroke you’re wasting energy pushing on air.  If they are too deep your body position will be at an angle that increase drag and slows you down. It’s important to maintain a flat position, just below the water’s surface.

Do you know how to use a kickboard for swimming?

How Ray-Board™ can Help

Some of the challenges with kickboards aren’t easily overcome, in part because most kickboards are poorly designed. They are designed to be easy to manufacture and inexpensive to ship.  They are not designed to help you kick better and more comfortably.

The exception is Ray-Board™, a kickboard that is very different from the flat kickboards you’re likely seen at your local pool. It was developed by a swimmer who knew there had to be a better solution. Ray-Board’s shape puts your arms in a bend position, which takes stress off neck, shoulders and back, allowing you to swim more comfortably.  It also drops your elbows below the surface, allowing you to easily maintain a horizontal swim position. If you’re looking for a kickboard that you can use comfortably lap after lap, you need to try Ray-Board.

Why Does This Kickboard Cost $35? It’s Totally Worth It!

Ray-Board™ Cost How Much?

You’re tired of using that cheap blue kickboard at the community pool and are ready to own one for yourself.  You’ve explored your options online, and maybe even borrowed one from the swimmer in the next lane over.  As you look at kickboard costs you see that most are about $15… except for Ray-Board™.  What’s going on? Why does this kickboard cost twice as much as other kickboards?  And more importantly, is it worth it?

Why most Kickboards cost $15?

Most kickboards are cut to shape from a large flat piece of foam. This inexpensive process allows manufactures to quickly make them by the thousands. Unfortunately, this process also requires a flat shape.  Some manufacturers will round the edges or add some small gripping features, but for the most part, they are all very flat.

This simple design also allows manufacturers to minimize shipping costs. Flat boards are easy to pack.  Even with the flat shape, shipping the product from the factory to the warehouse to your home can cost more than the kickboard itself.  Did your kickboard cost less than $15? Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

Why does Ray-Board Cost $35?

Ray-Board is designed to maximize comfort and performance. In designing it, we thought only about how to make the best kickboard.  The result is a unique design that couldn’t be manufactured the way flat kickboards are.  Ray-Board is injection molded, a process in which one board is made at a time.  This process is more expensive than simply cutting a kickboard from a piece of flat foam.  Also, because of its shape, Ray-Board is approximately twice as expensive to ship as flat kickboards.

Is it worth it?

At $35, Ray-Board is more expensive than other kickboards. So you have to ask yourself… is it worth it?  There are plenty of problems with flat kickboards.  They are uncomfortable, they can lead to injury, and they promote poor swim posture to name just a few.  With Ray-Board you overcome all of these problems.  You are able to kick longer and harder because your upper body is relaxed and more comfortable.  Your body is in the correct swimming position, so using Ray-Board will promote good body position habits.  When you train better, better race day performances will follow.

Kickboard Cost

Inexpensive Speed.

If you’re a competitive swimmer you’re likely spending $200+ on a race day tech suit. You may even pay for the premium googles because they make you look faster. If you’re a triathlete, think about how many hundreds of dollar you spend to cut a few grams from your bike.  How about the ever-increasing race fees, or that $400 replacement wet suit for the one you put your fingernail through last season.  Those costs are all aimed at making us better, more competitive athletes. So why wouldn’t you spend a few extra dollars to use the best kickboard on the market? It’s time to start kicking with Ray-Board.

10 Great Reasons Not to Use a (Flat) Kickboard

What others are saying about kickboards

I just read a great article on swimscience.net subtitled “Ten Reasons Swimmers Should Never Use a Kickboard”.  It’s a thoughtful list and I encourage you to read the article, but I disagree that the solution is to abandon all kickboards.  Let’s just get rid of the old, cheap flat ones.  After reading through the list you’ll find that the unique shape of Ray-Board™ directly addresses most of the author’s kickboard concerns.  The list can be divided into three basic problems:

A (flat) kickboard leads to shoulder, back and neck injuries

To maximize buoyancy, most swimmers use a kickboard with their arms fully extended. This increases shoulder stress and can lead to injury.  At a minimum, it is very uncomfortable to stay in this extended position lap after lap.  Flat kickboards also force the swimmers head out of the water.  This may provide lots of opportunities to catch your breath, but it also stresses the neck muscles, which can lead to sharp pain.  Further, to achieve the raised head position you must overly extend your back.  In time this can lead to lower back pain or muscular compensation that can transfer to the shoulders.

Neck pain from flat kickboard

A (flat) kickboard takes swimmers out of a balanced body position, which can create bad habits

It is possible to obtain a good body position while using a flat kickboard, it just takes a lot of extra effort, is quite uncomfortable, and can increase the risk of injury.  What happens more often is that swimmers don’t focus on their body position while kicking.  Your legs drop, your back arches, your shoulders drop under your head.  And when kick training do you really want to be focused on your arm position?   Maintaining this bad body position is only going to create bad habits and cause problems when you’re swimming without a kickboard.

The leg mechanics of kicking with a (flat) kickboard are different from regular kicking

The point of doing kicking drills is to improve your kick, so the drills should achieve the same kicking motion as kicking without a kickboard. With flat kickboards, swimmers often use only their lower legs.  They don’t use a full leg kick.  Also, doing a dolphin kick with a flat kickboard is challenging because the board is difficult to control.

The Solution: Ray-Board™

The author’s many issues with flat kickboards are entirely overcome through the unique design of Ray-Board.  By dropping your elbows deeper in the water and allowing a wider, bent-elbow arm position, Ray-Board puts your shoulders, neck and back in a position that you can maintain lap after lap.  Your upper-body muscles actually get to relax during your kick session.

Ray-Board promotes a more natural swim position.  This means your kicking drills with Ray-Board will reinforce good habits rather than bad ones.  Lastly, the wide elbow position and support provided by Ray-Board provides a stable base against which the swimmer can generate a strong, full-leg kick.  The shape and handle of Ray-Board also allow you to control it above and below the water, making it a great tool for dolphin kick training.

 

Review of Best Kickboards – 2020

What is the Best Kickboard for Me?

Non-swimmers do not appreciate differences in swim equipment.  “Why does that racing suit cost $400 when I can get $20 swimsuit at Walmart?”  But for those of us who rack up thousands or tens of thousands of yards a week, even minor differences in equipment can be noticeable.   This article reviews the best kickboard.  How are they alike? How are they different? And which is the best kickboard for YOU!

The Basic Kickboard

You can find these classic kickboards at almost any public pool in the country.  They are manufactured by many swim companies, from the giants (Speedo, Finis) to eBay knock-offs.  They are flat, generally, 20 inches in length, have a curved leading edge and that’s about it.  These featureless boards are designed with only one concern in mind… keeping costs low.  Unfortunately, this sole focus on cost leaves swimmers prone to injury or poor training techniques.  If you have to use one for a few laps… that’s fine.  But competitive swimmers should really be using a performance kickboard.

The Basic + Handholds

The next step up in kickboard performance adds handholds.  Again, kickboard manufacturers offer a variety of configurations, but in general, the handholds define specific locations for you to grasp the kickboard while you swim.  This design idea is a little shortsighted.  Why would a swimmer want to support their weight entirely through their hands? And the closer the handles get to the back end of the kickboard the less balanced it is in the water.

Sporti Momentum Premium Kickboard / Poolmaster 50509 

“Hydro” Designs

TYR sells a higher-end kickboard that deviates a bit from the most basic flat designs.  It measures four inches shorter than standard kickboards.  Handholds at the front allow the board to provide support for forearms, and the middle section is curved (concave side up). The design allows for the swimmer to roll slightly side to side, such as when swimming freestyle.  Overall, it’s an improvement over the most basic designs but really designed for the side-to-side rolling function.

TYR Hydrofoil

TYR Hydrofoil Kickboard

Drill Specific Kickboards

Finis sells a unique design that looks part kickboard and part swim paddle.  It is much smaller than other kickboards (12-inches x 12-inches) and is intended to keep your body in a streamlined position by sitting below the water’s surface. A velcro strap helps your fingertips to also stay in a streamlined position without having to grip the board.  Finis does claim it puts less stress on the shoulders, but partly because the board is not meant to support much weight at all. Use with face in the water.

Finis Alignment Kickboard

Hybrid Products

For those that (1) have a really small swim bag, or (2) aren’t ready to invest in both a kickboard and a pull buoy, Sporti makes a hybrid product. Like most hybrid products, this one doesn’t serve either purpose very well.  As a pull buoy, it’s not quite thick or buoyant enough.  As a kickboard, it doesn’t provide as much support as traditional designs and it’s a little awkward to hold while you kick. If you’re serious about improving your kick training, you’re better off committing to a product designed specifically for kicking.

Sporti Hybrid Pull Buoy Kickboard

Ray-Board: The Most Comfortable Kickboard You Can Own

We’re admittedly biased on this, but Ray-Board™ is the only true performance kickboard available.  Its unique shape places your arms in a comfortable bend position, with your elbows slightly below the surface.  This allows your body to maintain a more natural swim position while you kick, and you don’t have to arch your back or strain your neck or shoulders, making it extremely comfortable to use lap after lap.  Ray-Board overcomes the top problems with flat kickboards.  If you’re serious about swim training, you should be using Ray-Board in all of your workouts. It is hands down the best kickboard of 2020.

Rayboard: Best Kickboard