VIDEO Gear Review: SwimSafe by TriAids, Inc

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Triathletes are not invincible. Some of us like to think we are, but that is just not true. Anything can happen to us in open water. So why not make sure you are prepared for an emergency?

By Ron 


About the video


I didn't have my production crew with me that day, so the video sounds a little windy.  And about my son, I have to apologize for his behavior, he sure loves me because I can't be more than 5 feet away from him before he starts crying.  I know, what love!



In 2003, it was reported that nine people per day die from unintentional fatal drownings in the United States-that's about 3,300 people per year.  The majority of these occur in open water.  Are you protected when you swim?  Do you have a 'spotter' with you?  Are lifeguards present?   What about doing a few open-water swims before race-day to build that confidence?  Do you have a friend watching over you?


The reason I ask is that we triathletes are not invincible.  Some of us like to think we are, but that is just not true.  Anything can happen to us in open water.  So why not make sure you are prepared for an emergency?  Nothing like an extra security blanket around your waist should something happen.  Believe me, if I had known about the  SwimSafe device for this years St. Anthony's triathlon, I would have DEFINITELY worn it.  Those waves were out-of-control and I honestly don't see how the people in the kayaks can keep track of the massive amount of swimmers sloshing around in the ocean...this race or any other big race.


The Product



The Maker

Tri-Aids, Inc

The Price

$99.00 plus shipping

The Rating


The Skinny

If you have any doubts about your open-water swimming skills, or even just a desire for a safety belt, this product is for you.


What is the SwimSafe device?

Completely Apart.  Notice the CO2 inflater (bottom) and the manual inflater (top).

The SwimSafe device is a CO2 inflatable flotation device that gets worn around your waist.  If you run into trouble, you just pull down on the string which then inflates the inner yellow flotation device within 5 seconds which then can be put around your neck.  It does have a backup manual inflater too.  Fully extended, the inner-tube is about three feet long.



Will this make me slower?


I really don't know, I imagine on some level it does.  But it will keep you alive.  When packed and worn around your waist, it is a small cylinder one foot long and about 2-3" in diameter weighing 11oz.  So, yes, there is an extra surface for some drag.  When I swam with it in open-water, I didn't notice anything holding me back.  I really quickly forgot about it being on me.  But then again, I'm slow.  If you are at the top of your age-group, I would think you would want to do some trials to see what effect it has on your swim performance, but I'm sure it's negligible.  Put a little more training time on your bike to make up for any lost seconds!


 Manual Inflater Rip-Cord




This does come with a small booklet of instructions and pictures.  Being a device that can save your life, you must take care of the product, inspect the CO2 cylinder, fold it back together and prepare it for storage properly.  I did not actually pull the rip-cord, I took their word for it that it works. 

The only small gripe I have about the product is the small pictures inside the booklet-especially on the re-folding instructions...I could have used those just a little bit bigger.  I just prefer giant glossy full-color pictures instead of little black and white thumbnails.  There are also 'general use' instructions sewn directly on the device too so they are guaranteed not to get lost.


One thing I did notice is that you have to make sure the rip-cord is packed UNDER the orange outer sleeve, that way if you run into trouble, as you pull the rip-cord, you simultaneously open up the end of the device so that the yellow inflatable can escape and inflate.  There are plenty of pictures of this included and on the website.








Sure it's a little pricey. But if it will save your life.....



It's definitely orange.  But it only takes up a small part of your waist.



The material seems very solidly built, nylon and velcro for the housing.



Seemed unnoticeable to me.

Overall  No qualms.  It's a solid product.  If you have any fear or reservations on your first open-water swim on race-day, or maybe you lack swimming confidence itself, then this wouldn't be a bad thing to have.


Follow-up by SwimSafe: I just wanted to tell you that in response to your questions I posted a video of repacking instructions on the web site. It can be found on the 'how to use SwimSafe' page. Also you do not need to have the end open on the belt. It will deploy perfectly with all the Velcro attached. I have deployed mine multiple times to make sure it worked. It comes out very quickly.


Technical Data

  • 11oz in weight

  • Inflation time < 5 seconds

  • Uses a 16 gram CO2 cylinder, neck 3/8 inch-24-UNF 1F

  • Has an additional manual inflater

  • Fits waist sizes 23-50 inches

Article Downloads
SwimSafe Flotation Device by TriAids Review (1144 downloads)


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date: October 1, 2006