Disclaimer: I was provided with the product for review purposes and compensated for preparing the review. All opinions are my own.
I write about triathlon, I read about triathlon, and I talk about triathlon to people both in real life and online. What's keeping most non-triathletes from participating in the sport, as far as I can tell, is swimming. Improving your swim is as straightforward as spending time practising in your local pool.
What unnerves even experienced triathletes who have logged countless hours in the pool is swimming in the open water. For example, see Organic Runner Mom here, or Fitness Cheerleader here. While I see this as mostly a psychological hang-up, it is true that open water swimming carries a little more risk than the pool: you might not be able to see or touch the bottom, there are wind and waves (or maybe even current) to deal with, there could even be an encounter with watercraft or wildlife. Yet training your open water swim is very necessary to a triathlete; unless every race you compete in is in a pool, you'll need to deal with some of the aforementioned factors, as well as skills like sighting, bilateral breathing and rounding corners, or simply the novel sensation of wearing a wet-suit.
It seems to me like if there was a way to give triathletes a psychological crutch AND something to use should an actual emergency or physical difficulty occur, without impeding the swimmer's technique, we could have a lot more happy triathletes.
I think RESTUBE is the solution. RESTUBE is a portable buoy that can be used for flotation. With it folded up on a belt pouch, you can swim with it strapped around your waist without it getting in your way at all, and a simple pull on a cord will inflate it should you find yourself needing extra flotation. It can also be manually inflated with a mouth valve - then you’d simply pull it along behind you and it’s size and colour would make you more visible to boaters or any other people observing you from a distance.
Have a look at this video for further illustration:
A few notes from the video:
The weight I mention in the introduction comes from the extra two CO2 cartridges in the box. When you swim with just one, it's much lighter, and if you were to manually inflate the RESTUBE and have no cartridge, the weight would be next to nothing.
I'm 5'11" tall and a lot of that length is in my legs. Many other swimmers would not experience their feet hitting the tube while swimming. Even for me, it wasn't a physical impediment to my swim, just a bit of a mental distraction.
The CO2 cartridges use compressed gas, which have special considerations for air travel. If you were travelling by air to a destination where you wanted to use your RESTUBE, you’d need to notify the airline and follow the procedures they mandate, simply limit the number of cartridges you pack. The RESTUBE instructions include guidelines for air travel - which is great, because RESTUBE would be handy for snorkeling, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding or other water activities you might undertake on vacation.
UPDATE: Innovation Sports contacted me and let me know that:
"Quick note about the green clip you didn’t find in the box, if you had opened the RESTUBE before using it in the water, you would have noticed this little green clip was on the unit. When you trigger it, it breaks the clip and it is now in the lake somewhere… it is normal.
When customers are purchase the pack of 2 replacement cartridges, there are 2 clips in the package for this use. We haven’t provided you with the green replacement clips as we sent you demo cartridges that are only used normally for demos, trade shows and testing. They are bulk, not to be sold and they do not come with the clip.
The unit can be used without a clip no problem. The green clip normally just reminds you that the cartridge is FULL of air. Once used, it becomes RED to tell you the cartridge is empty and needs to be replaced. This is a visual help. The clips also ensure that you do not trigger it too easily… just a safety clip to avoid triggering it for nothing.
Please note that Triathlon Quebec is accepting the product for races. We are working on getting the approval for races by Ironman and also Triathlon Canada.
We just got yesterday the note from RESTUBE that USAT approved it for races in USA!"
Additionally, they have provided a code which lets Canadian customers get FREE Shipping! Simply use RT2015 when checking out. Again, here's the link to Innovation Sports.
How about you? Would knowing you had a flotation buoy at your fingertips make you feel more comfortable and secure in the water? Would you inflate the buoy before starting for visibility, or just keep it folded up for the just-in-case?