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