Brief History of Resistance Training Gear for Swimmers

From my post on

From the early age of competitive swimming athletes have been using various devices to help them get stronger and faster.  Fins and paddles were probably among the first training devices to be used by swimmers.  Benjamin Franklin, who was an avid swimmer, invented both in the early 18th century (around 1717).

However, in this post I wanted to look at the training gear other than paddles and fins.  In particular, I wanted to see how resistance gear has changed in the last 100 years.  As the title states, this is not an in-depth review but rather a quick overview of the evolution of resistance equipment for swimmers.

In general all swimming resistance gear can be broken into 3 categories:

1. Devices that connect a swimmer to the stationary part of the pool.  For example, a band that connects a swimmer to the start block.

2. Devices that are connected to a swimmer and not connected to the a stationary part of the pool.  In such cases swimmers usually pull something behind them.  For example a parachute, a bucket, etc.

3. Devices that are worn by a swimmer and that allow free swimming.  For example, a drag suit.

The first device I looked at was a “Swimming Apparatus” from 1914.  It was invented by C. Homewood.

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