Title:
Exercise device for use in swimming
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exercise device includes a belt unit that has an element that encircles a swimmer's hips near the pelvis. The belt unit includes restraining straps that are attached to the element encircling the swimmer's hips by means of hook-and-loop material so the straps can be located in the most effective position on the swimmer. The device further includes an anchor that can be attached to a stationary device associated with the swimming pool and has rotatable rings that are attached to the restraining straps.



Inventors:
Brentlinger, Karen W. (Williamson, GA, US)
Zilliox, Kent Brian (Carmel Valley, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/336318
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
01/19/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B31/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pete Fine (PO Box 736, Rehobeth, MA, 02769, US)
Claims:
What is claimed and desired to be covered by Letters Patent is:

1. An exercise device for use in swimming comprising: a belt unit adapted to be worn by a swimmer which includes a hip-encircling element which is adapted to be located adjacent to the swimmer's pelvis when worn, the hip-encircling element including (A) an inner surface, (B) an outer surface, and (C) at least one adjustable restraining tether strap element coupled to the hip-encircling element when in use, each restraining strap element including (1) a proximal portion which is adjustably attached to the hip-encircling element and (2) a distal portion connected to an anchor unit adapted to be secured to a stationary element associated with a swimming pool when said anchor unit is in use.

2. An exercise device for use in swimming as in claim 10, where said hip encircling element further includes a first end and a second end, With a first hook-and-loop material on the inner surface of the hip-encircling element adjacent to the first end of the hip-encircling element, and, a second hook-and-loop material on the outer surface of the hip-encircling element covering attached to and covering the outer surface of the hip-encircling element and adapted to releasably couple to the first hook-and-loop material when the hip-encircling element is in place on the swimmer.

3. An exercise device for use in swimming as in claim 1, where the proximal portion of at least one of said restraining strap elements are adapted to be coupled to the hip-encircling element when in use, in a manner such that the location where said straps are coupled to the hip encircling element, can be adjusted to allow for proper ergodynamic alignment.

4. An exercise device for use in swimming as in claim 3, where the proximal portion of said restraining strap elements are removably connected to the hip encircling element with hook and loop material.

5. An exercise device for use in swimming as in claim 3, where the proximal portion of each of said restraining strap elements are adapted to removably connect to a Y shaped restraining strap element, which is connected to an attachment patch material, which further connects to the hip encircling belt by means of hook and loop type attachment.

6. An exercise device for use in swimming as in claim 1, where said hip encircling element further includes at least one removable buoyant element.

7. An exercise device for use in swimming as in claim 1, where said tether strap further includes at least tension measuring device capable of measuring the pulling force of a swimmer.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The applicants for utility patent coverage in the U.S. for the invention taught, enabled, and claimed in this Continuation-In-Part Utility Patent application, hereby incorporates by reference herein, and claims the benefit of priority of the respective filing dates accorded the following Utility patent application earlier filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, namely:

    • U.S. Utility Patent Application No. 10/666,123 filed Sep. 22, 2003, titled Exercise Device for use in Swimming Pool, and,
      hereby incorporates by reference herein, and under 37 CFR 119(e) claims the benefit of priority of the respective filing dates accorded the following provisional patent applications earlier filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, namely:
    • U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/645510 filed Jan. 19, 2005 and entitled “Stationary Swimming Device for Current Generating Pool”, and,
    • U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/698680 filed Jul. 13, 2005 and entitled “Stationary Swimming Device for Small Pool Area”.

The aforementioned U.S. Patent Application, and the aforementioned U.S. Provisional Patent Applications are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes into this Patent Application.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the general art of exercise and therapeutic equipment, and to the particular field of swimming accessories.

DISCUSSION OF THE RELATED ART

Swimming is well recognized for exercise and therapy. People can swim even if they are disabled, elderly, or the like, because swimming provides excellent cardiovascular exercise as well as excellent physical exercise without placing undue stress and strain on muscles, tendons, bones and joints. People can swim well into their 80's and 90's when they cannot participate in most other sports.

While excellent, swimming does have some drawbacks. For example, some people do not have easy or convenient access to a public swimming pool. Others are shy or reluctant to swim in a public pool or in a pool that has many other swimmers. Some pools are not easily accessible to some users.

Therefore, there is a need for a means for permitting a person to swim while overcoming the above-mentioned problems.

The art contains several examples of devices that allow a person to swim in place. That is, some form of resistance is applied to a swimmer so the swimmer can exert energy in swimming while not requiring a great deal of space. A common example of this is the bungee cord tied to a swimmer and anchored to a stationary object associated with the swimming pool. The swimmer swims to the end of the bungee cord and then tries to swim further while the cord stretches and retards the swimmer. The bungee cord, along with nearly all other presently-available devices, includes a belt that is worn around the swimmer's waist. While the presently-available devices solve many of the above-mentioned problems, they have problems of their own.

The most important drawback associated with the presently-known devices is that these designs focus on the effect of holding the swimmer's body stationary in the water and these known devices fail to address the significant forces affecting the body during the act of swimming. Proper alignment is crucial in any sport and, if not addressed, can lead to fatigue, serious injury and/or pain.

Therefore, there is a need for a device that permits swimming in place but which provides proper alignment for the swimmer during swimming.

Furthermore, many of the presently-known devices are not comfortable to wear. Some of the devices have waist bands that place a great deal of force on the swimmer over a small area. This stress may create sores and may improperly align the forces on the swimmer.

Therefore, there is a need for a device that permits swimming in place but which provides proper alignment for the swimmer during swimming and which is comfortable for the swimmer.

Still further, most of the presently-known devices are not versatile. They do not permit different users to customize the device to their particular needs and requirements. The devices cannot be customized for a particular exercise regimen. Often, the presently-known devices are difficult and cumbersome to don or doff which may exacerbate problems associated with using those devices for a disabled swimmer.

Many of the presently-known devices are not amenable to use with other accessories, such as timers and the like. This further vitiates the advantages associated with swim-in-place devices by further limiting their versatility.

Therefore, there is a need for a device that permits swimming in place but which is versatile and which is easy to don and/or doff.

PRINCIPAL OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is a main object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used during therapy that includes swimming.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while using only a small area.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while using only a small area including a home swimming pool.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that focuses on addressing the significant forces affecting a swimmer's body during swimming and maintains proper alignment of the swimmer during use of the device.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment and which will maintain proper fit, comfort, lateral and anterior/posterior alignment during a pull executed during swimming using the device.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment and which will avoid fatigue, injury or pain during and/or after use of the device.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment to permit a comfortable, safe and correctly aligned pull during swimming using the device.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment and evenly distributes stress over the hips of the swimmer.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment and which is adjustable.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment and which is versatile.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that can be used to improve swimming skills and obtain the benefits of lap swimming while the swimmer swims against resistance in a swim-in-place mode while retaining a proper alignment which is also comfortable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These, and other, objects are achieved by an exercise device for use in swimming and which comprises a belt unit adapted to be worn by a swimmer during in-place swimming and which includes a hip-encircling element which is adapted to be located adjacent to the swimmer's pelvis when worn, the hip-encircling element including an inner surface that is in contact with the swimmer when the belt unit is worn, an outer surface, a hook-and-loop material on the outer surface, and at least one restraining strap element which is adjustably attached to the hip-encircling element. When in use, the strap(s) are attached to the belt, and are also attached to a fixed point associated with the swimming pool. When not in use, some embodiments allow the strap(s) to be removed from the belt. Each restraining strap in preferred embodiments include a proximal portion and a distal portion, where the proximal portion is adapted to be connected to the hip encircling belt, and where the distal portion is adapted to connect to an anchor unit fixed to a stationary element associated with a swimming pool when the anchor element is in use.

The exercise device embodying the present invention is oriented on a swimmer and can be adjusted, so that proper alignment is effected. The hip-encircling belt is located adjacent to the swimmer's pelvis and the restraining straps are located and can be adjusted, so the swimmer's body is maintained in proper lateral and anterior/posterior alignment whereby strain on the swimmer's back and neck is reduced. A pull that is most effective for the particular swimmer can be designed and maintained. For example, if a symmetric pull is desired, the restraining straps can be adjusted accordingly; however, if a non-symmetric pull is desired for some purpose, the restraining straps can be adjusted for this as well. Thus, the device of the present invention can be easily, quickly and accurately customized for the particular exercise and the particular needs of the swimmer to effect the most efficient and effective exercise.

As compared to presently available devices which are directed to simply holding the swimmer in place, the device embodying the present invention will not cause the swimmer to fatigue as quickly and the swimmer is not likely to experience back pain or dysfunction.

The belt is easy to don and doff and is comfortable during use. Because the belt fits over the swimmer's hips rather than around the swimmer's waist, the belt of the present invention will evenly distribute the pull through the swimmer's pelvis rather than a narrow area around the waist. This allows for full mobility of the arms during the upper stroke and the natural rotation of the back without restriction and chafing which may occur if a jacket or a narrow waist band is used.

The device embodying the present invention focuses on addressing the significant forces affecting the swimmer's body during swimming and maintains proper alignment.

An anchor unit can be included with the device of the present invention which is easily and quickly attachable to a stationary object associated with a swimming pool, such as a ladder, or the like, and can rotate and swivel so proper alignment of the swimmer is maintained. The anchor unit can be a suction cup type device, or can be embodied in an attachment to a fixed portion of the pool area such as the pool ladder. The anchor unit can rotate into a position best suited for the particular stroke being used by the swimmer, yet can be easily disconnected and connected for easy knock-down and set up of the device. Furthermore, the device is versatile and can be used with a multitude of different accessories whereby a wide variety of swimmers, swimming skills, swimming locations, swimming conditions and exercises can be accommodated by the device. Thus, a beginning swimmer can be easily accommodated as well as a skilled swimmer, or an injured person undergoing therapy. If a swimmer is hesitant to swim in a large pool or in a pool with many people, the device of the present invention can be used in a small, private, pool as well.

If a swimmer requires buoyancy assistance, the device of the present invention is easily adapted to using buoyant pads for such assistance. Bouyant floatation pads can be attached to the device in a variety of ways, such as placed in a pocket or pouch, or such as attached by hook and loop type materials. Other accessories, such as timers, radios, and the like, are also easily used in connection with the device of the present invention thereby increasing the versatility and adaptability of the device.

The device can be designed and built in numerous amount of embodiments, including variations related to the tether strap ends and how they attach to the belt unit at one end and to the swim spa at the other end. Tether straps can be attached to a swimming pool in many different sorts of configurations, for instance, from both sides of the swimmer or from behind the swimmer, for use in either regular still water type pools or jet powered swim spas, or could also be attached from in front of the swimmer for a jet powered swim spa. One or more tether straps could also be attached to a swimmer from a fixture located above the swimming area.

The various possible configurations of the device can include the swimmer being attached to the pool by one single tether, such as when attached to the small of the back, or by two tethers, one on either hip, or in other ways. In some embodiments, each of two tethers connect directly to the pool, and in other configurations one or more tether straps connect to a spreader bar or other anchor unit, which then is connected to the pool. Straps can be connected to the pool in many ways, such as by simply tying the straps to a ladder, or connecting straps to fixed mounted pins or hooks, or by attaching the tether straps to the pool by use of one or more suction cups.

The strap(s) can also optionally include one or more tension measuring device(s) to measure and/or record the pulling strength of a swimmers strokes.

In a preferred embodiment, the belt is designed as a one-size fits all, and uses a neoprene material which is soft and forms to the swimmers mid-section in a way that eliminates chaffing to the skin and gives a very comfortable fit and feel. On the inner side of the belt is a rubber based material that provides a grippy adhesion between the swimmers skin or swimsuit, and the belt. On the outer side of the belt, loop type material can be used to provide for hook and loop type attachment of the tether straps to the belt. The use of hook and loop type of attachment allows for strong yet adjustable connection and quick release options. By designing the belt to feature a large continuous swath of loop type material, then tether straps can be attached in a multitude of adjustable positions, to allow for proper ergodynamic alignment of the pulling forces distribution to the swimmer's body. Obviously other methods could be used to attach the straps to the belt, such as with sewn in straps and adjustment buckles, or other types of adjustable fastening mechanisms.

The tether strap(s) are preferably designed to allow adjustment in length, since the length of a swimmer and the dimensions of a swim spa can vary. This can be achieved in various ways. The material of the tether in a preferred embodiment is bungee cord type material, this provides some elasticity to any slack that may occur. Tether strap clamps can also be used to adjust the tether strap length. In other embodiments, non-stretchable types of straps may be desired, for instance non-stretchable type straps may be desired when using tension measuring type devices to record the swimming pull force.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a belt unit included in the swimming device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an anchor unit included in the swimming device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 3A shows a restraining strap included in the swimming device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 3B shows a restraining strap with an adjustable buckle thereon.

FIG. 4 shows an anchor ring included in the anchor unit.

FIG. 5 illustrates a swimmer using the device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a suction cup that can be included in the anchor unit and which is used to attach an anchor bar to a stationary object associated with a swimming pool.

FIG. 7 is a connecting element used to connect the suction cup to the anchor bar.

FIG. 8 illustrates a suction cup attaching an anchor bar to a stationary wall associated with a swimming pool.

FIG. 9 shows a hip-encircling element which is included in the device embodying the present invention and which has a pocket.

FIG. 10 shows a floatation element that can be located in the pocket shown in FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 shows an anchor bar having a timing mechanism thereon.

FIG. 12 shows a radio that can be mounted on the anchor bar.

FIG. 13 shows three different configurations of anchoring a swimmer in place using at least one tether strap attached at the small of the back of swimmer.

FIG. 14 shows a hip encircling belt, with a continuous piece of loop type material on the outside surface.

FIG. 15 shows a hip encircling belt with two tether straps attached in the hip location positions, with an attachment patch at each hip location.

FIG. 16 shows a swimmer wearing the inventive device.

FIG. 17 shows an attachment patch with a two legged v shaped strap and D-ring.

FIG. 18 shows an attachment patch with a two legged v shaped strap and D-ring, and D-rings connected to the sides of the patch.

FIG. 19 shows an attachment patch with a two legged v shaped strap and D-ring, and a D-ring connected to the center of the patch.

FIG. 20 shows an attachment patch with a two legged v shaped strap and D-ring, and D-rings connected to the sides of the patch.

FIG. 20 shows an attachment patch with a two legged v shaped strap and D-ring, and a D-ring connected to the center of the patch, and D-rings connected to the sides of the patch.

FIG. 21 shows a V shaped attachment strap with support material and D-ring.

FIG. 22 shows a V shaped attachment strap and D-ring connected to a tether strap with a quick clip.

FIG. 23 shows a tether strap length adjusting device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a consideration of the following detailed descriptions and the accompanying drawings.

Referring to the Figures, it can be understood that the present invention is embodied in an exercise device 10 for use in swimming. Exercise device 10 can be used to practice swimming skills, to learn swimming skills, to enhance a person's cardiovascular system or a person's strength and can also be used during therapy as required.

A first embodiment, is depicted in FIGS. 1-12. As shown in FIG. 1, device 10 includes a belt unit 12 which is adapted to be worn by a swimmer S as indicated in FIG. 5. Belt unit 12 includes a hip-encircling element 14 which is adapted to be located adjacent to the swimmer's pelvis P when worn (see FIG. 5). As can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 5, the hip-encircling element 14 is wider than a normal belt so forces applied to the swimmer via the hip-encircling element 14 are distributed over a wide area, thereby reducing the stress placed on the swimmer via device 10.

Hip-encircling element 14 includes an inner surface 16, an outer surface 18, a first end 20, a second end 22, a first hook-and-loop material 24 on the inner surface 16 of the hip-encircling element 14 adjacent to the first end 20 of the hip-encircling element 14, a second hook-and-loop material 26 on the outer surface 18 of the hip-encircling element 14 adjacent to the second end 22 of the hip-encircling element 14. Hook-and-loop material 26 is adapted to releasably couple to first hook-and-loop material 24 when the hip-encircling element 14 is in place on the swimmer. The size and fit of element 14 can be adjusted to meet the particular needs of the swimmer. Element 14 further includes a third hook-and-loop material 28 on the outer surface 18 of the hip-encircling element 14. Third hook-and-loop material 28 extends from a first location 30 spaced apart from the first end 20 of the hip-encircling element 14 to a second location 32 spaced apart from the second end 22 of the hip-encircling element 14.

Two Y-shaped restraining strap element 40 and 42 are shown in FIG. 1, and highlighted in FIGS. 3A and 3B and are adapted to be releasably coupled to the hip-encircling element 14 when in use. The restraining strap elements 40, 42 are identical to each other and therefore only element 40 is described. Each restraining strap element 40, 42 includes a proximal portion 44 which includes two legs 46 and 48. Each leg 46, 48 includes a proximal end 50, a distal end 52, a first surface 54, and a second surface 56. Hook-and-loop material 58 is located on first surface 54 and is located adjacent to the proximal end 50 to be releasably coupled to third hook-and-loop material 28 on the hip-encircling element 14 when the restraining strap element 40, 42 is in place. The restraining strap elements 40, 42 can be moved on the hip-encircling element 14 to be in the most effective and efficient location on the swimmer to properly align the forces applied to the swimmer during exercise.

Each restraining strap 40, 42 further includes a distal portion 60 which includes a proximal end 62 and a distal end 64. A C-shaped hook 66 is fixedly connected to the distal end 64 of the distal portion 60 of each restraining strap element 40, 42.

An adjustment buckle 68 connects the proximal end 62 of the distal portion 60 of each restraining strap element 40, 42 to the distal end 52 of each leg 46, 48 of the proximal portion 44 of each restraining strap element 40, 42. The buckle 68 can also be used to further adjust the device 10 of the present invention.

The inventive exercise device can be anchored to a swimming pool edge in a number of embodiments. Some embodiments include the use of an anchor unit 70, and other embodiments use one or more restraining straps 40, 42 without an anchor unit. An anchor unit 70 can be optionally used, which is sometimes referred to as a spreader bar, is shown in FIGS. 2 and 5 and is adapted to be fixedly secured to a stationary element, such as a pool ladder L mounted on a pool wall W as shown in FIG. 5, associated with a swimming pool when the anchor unit 70 is in use. Anchor unit 70 includes an elongate anchor body 72, which has a first end 74, a second end 76, a first surface 78, and a second surface 80. Elongate body 72 can be formed of buoyant material.

In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2, a first anchor body anchor ring 84 is rotatably and fixedly mounted on the first surface 78 of the anchor body 72. First anchor body anchor ring 84 is located adjacent to the first end 74 of the anchor body 72 and has an arcuate shape and a diametric dimension. The first anchor body anchor ring 84 is rotatably mounted on the anchor body 72 to rotate around the diametric dimension of the first anchor body anchor ring 84. The first anchor body anchor ring 84 is adapted to be coupled to a hook 66 on an associated restraining strap element 40, 42 when the anchor unit 70 is in use as shown in FIG. 5.

A second anchor body anchor ring 86 is rotatably and fixedly mounted on the first surface 78 of the anchor body 72. The second anchor body anchor ring 86 is located adjacent to the second end 76 of the anchor body 72 and has an arcuate shape and a diametric dimension. The second anchor body anchor ring 86 is rotatably mounted on the anchor body 72 to rotate around the diametric dimension of the second anchor body anchor ring 86. The second anchor body anchor ring 86 is adapted to be coupled to a hook 66 on an associated restraining strap element 40, 42 when the anchor unit 70 is in use.

A third anchor body anchor ring 90 is rotatably and fixedly mounted on the second surface 80 of the anchor body 72. Third anchor body anchor ring 90 is located between to the first end 74 of the anchor body 72 and the second end 76 of the anchor body 72. The third anchor body anchor ring 90 has an arcuate shape and a diametric dimension and is rotatably mounted on the anchor body 72 to rotate around the diametric dimension of the third anchor body anchor ring 90. Third anchor body anchor ring 90 is adapted to be coupled to a stationary element associated with the swimming pool when the anchor unit 70 is in use. The anchor ring 90 can either be directly attached to the stationary element or can be attached using a connection element 92 as shown in FIG. 5. Obviously, in other embodiments, the anchor bar can be constructed and assembled and attached to tether straps in different configurations, such as for example, a simple hollow tube, like a piece of PVC tubing, within which a long continuous tether strap is passed through, the ends of which strap are then connected to the belt (not shown).

If suitable, the anchor element 70 can be attached to the stationary object using other means. As shown in FIG. 6, one form of the anchor element 70 includes a suction cup element 100 which is adapted to be fixedly mounted on a wall, such as wall W, of the swimming pool when the suction cup element 100 is in use as shown in FIG. 8.

A simple embodiment of a useful suction cup element 100 includes an arcuate outer surface 102 and a suction cup anchor ring 104 fixedly and rotatably mounted on the outer surface 102 of the suction cup element 100.

A connecting element 106 is shown in FIG. 7 and has a first end 108, a second end 110, and a first coupling element 112 on the first end 108 of the connecting element 106. First coupling element 112 is adapted to be releasably coupled to the suction cup anchor ring 104 when the connecting element 106 is in use as shown in FIG. 8. The connecting element 106 further includes a second coupling element 114 on the second end 110 of connecting element 106. Second coupling element 114 is adapted to be releasably coupled to third anchor body anchor ring 90 when the connecting element 106 is in use as shown in FIG. 8. Connecting element 106 is constructed of flexible material.

Another form of the hip-encircling element is shown in FIG. 9 as element 12′ and includes a pocket 120 on one surface thereof, such as the outer surface shown in FIG. 9. A floatation element 122 such as shown in FIG. 10 can be placed in the pocket of element 12′. The floatation element 122 can be used for swimmers that are not confident of their abilities.

As shown in FIG. 11, a timer mechanism 130 is included on the body 72′ of an alternative form of anchor element. The timer mechanism 130 can include a circuit 132 which generates and emits an audible signal after a predetermined elapsed time. This will aid in the training of some swimmers.

As shown in FIG. 12, the device 10 of the present invention can further include a radio 140 that can be mounted on the anchor body, such as in pocket 120, if suitable.

It is noted that while swimmer S is shown in FIG. 5 executing a crawl stroke, other strokes, and combinations of strokes, can be used in association with the device of the present invention. For example, if swimmer S turns over on his or her back, the rotatable nature of the anchor rings will permit the anchor unit of the device to adapt to the new position of the swimmer.

Currently a fairly new way of exercising that eliminates the problems of limited space in swimming pools, is to swim in a pool against a smooth and steady current put out by a water jet. These jets can be portably added to an existing pool at one or more locations. There is also a type of small pool, more formally known as a “swim spa” that are generally 10×20 feet with a built-in jet to create a strong current to swim into. In most cases the current in a swim spa is adjustable to moderate between beginner swimmers and world-class athletes. These small pools are an ideal fitness center in limited space areas. When turning on the jets these pools create an environment of swimming up-stream in a river. Being able to swim alone in your own space solves the problem of swimming in a crowed swimming pool and in smaller pools the constant flip turns. This form of exercise can be used for therapy as well. Even though on most “swim spas” the current is adjustable, there is a problem of drifting from side to side or from front to back. This is most often caused by a change in pace or stroke from the swimmer.

In a second particular embodiment of the present invention described in detail herein, this invention will facilitate a stable engagement of resistance for the swimmer with the swim spa that will keep the swimmers position fixed and stationary within the swim spa. In a preferred configuration for using the inventive adjustable swimming device in a swim spa or pool with a water jet current, the proximal portion 44 of one or more tether straps 40, 42 are attached to the hip-encircling belt 14 at a location on the small of the swimmers back SB. FIG. 13 depicts several such configurations where the distal ends 60 of tether straps 40, 42 are attached to the wall W of a small pool or personal swim spa. These straps can, as shown, be attached from behind the swimmer, or above the swimmer, or most preferably, directly to the sides of the swimmer. The configuration where tether straps 40, 42 are attached to the pool directly to the sides of the swimmer seems to hold the swimmers position in the small pool the best. In this configuration, this second preferred embodiment is shown to allow for the proximal ends 44 of two tether straps 40 and 42 to be attached to the swimmers back SB, and the distal ends 64 are attached to the sides of the pool, directly on either side of the swimmer.

FIG. 14 shows a configuration of the hip encircling belt 14 of the device 10, suitable for this second type of embodiment usable for attaching tether straps 40, 42 to either the swimmer's hips, or to the small of the back. In FIG. 14, the hip encircling belt 14 is preferably made of neoprene material, and is on the order of 48 inches in length and on the order of 8 inches at it's widest point. These dimensions are suitable for fitting around the waist of most swimmers, and provide a belt 14 which is wide enough to comfortably distribute pulling forces ergodynamically to the swimmer. The outer surface 18 of the belt 14 is preferably completely covered with a surface suitable for adjustably attaching one or more tether straps to the belt 14, such as the preferred embodiment of a full length and width covering of loop type material 28 for hook and loop type attachment of the tether straps 40, 42 to the belt 14. Thus the device 10 is constructed in this embodiment, so that tether straps 40, 42 can be ergodynamically adjustably attached to the belt 14 either on the sides near the hips, or adjustably attached to the small of the back SB. A first hook type material 24 is also provided near the first end 20 of the belt 14, to attach the belt 14 about the swimmer's waist.

FIG. 15 shows an embodiment of the device 10 with two tether straps 40, 42 attached to the hip-encircling belt 14 in the approximate region where they would be located about the swimmer's hips. In this shown embodiment, the proximal portion 44 of each of the straps 40 and 42 each have two legs 46 and 48. Each leg 46, 48 includes a proximal end 50, and a distal end 52. Each of the proximal ends 50 is attached, such as by clipping or by stitching, to an attachment patch of material 140. Each attachment patch 140, has a first surface 154 which faces the belt 14 when attached, and a second surface 156 which faces away from the belt 14 when attached. Hook type material is located at the first surface 154 for hook and loop attachment of the attachment patch 140 to the belt 14.

FIG. 16 shows a swimmer using the device 10, where two tether straps 40 and 42 are attached to the belt 14, where the attachment of the tethers 40, 42 to the belt 14 are made about the region of either hip. It is preferred that the tethers 40 and 42 each provide two points of attachment to each hip, such as by having a Y shaped assembly at the proximal portion of each strap 40, 42, where the two points of attachment for each strap 40, 42 is located with one point of attachment in front of the swimmer's hip and the second attachment point is located behind the swimmer's hip, for proper ergodynamic alignment, and good healthy distribution of the pulling forces when swimming against restraining tether straps 40, 42. This is why preferred embodiments of the invention use the Y shaped tether straps 40, 42. As can be seen in FIG. 16, this embodiment uses attachment patches 140 on either hip, where the proximal ends 50 of the leg portions 46 and 48 are connected to the attachment patches 140 and the attachment patches 140 are attached to the belt 14 such that the proximal portion 50 of the leg portion 46 is located in front of the swimmer's hip, and the proximal portion 50 of the leg portion 48 is located behind the swimmers hip, for proper ergodynamic alignment.

FIG. 17 shows an embodiment of an attachment patch 140, where the two leg portions 46, 48 of strap 40, 42 are affixedly connected to the attachment patch 140, rather than affixed to the tether straps 40, 42. In this embodiment, a D shaped ring is connected to the distal ends of the leg portions 46, 48. Thus, in this embodiment, a tether strap can be quickly and easily connected to the D ring 142, such as by tying, or using a clip. The patch 140 can thus be left attached to the belt 14 so as to keep the desired ergodynamic alignment position, while the tether straps 40 and 42 can be attached and removed for convenience. This way a swimmer can walk about the pool area unencumbered by dangling straps 40, 42, and then can quickly and easily connect the straps 40, 42 to the belt 14 when ready to swim by connecting the straps 40, 42 to the D ring 142, which was left attached to the belt 14. FIG. 18 shows a similar embodiment of an attachment patch 140, which further comprises a pair of additional D rings 144, located on either side of the patch 140. The side located D rings 144 are useful if the patch 140 is to be connected to the back of the swimmer's belt 14, such as in the usage depicted in FIG. 13. Thus when using the patch 140 of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 18, a single patch of this type can be used for back attachment, and a pair of identical patches 140 can be used when the swimmer desires to connect tether straps 40 and 42 to each of his hips, as depicted in FIG. 16. Therefore, a kit comprising the device 10 of the present embodiment which comprises a belt 14 and two attachment patches 140 as shown in FIG. 18 can allow a swimmer good versatility for various attachment placements of the tether straps 40, 42, as well as offering good ergodynamic alignment capabilities in each of the configurations desired.

Obviously, there are other configurations for adjustably attaching one or more tether straps 40, 42 to a hip-encircling belt to produce equivalent versions of the present invention, which are know or could be devised by those skilled in the art. FIG. 19 depicts an alternate attachment patch embodiment, where a D ring 146 is located in the center of the patch 140, such as may be useful for attaching a single tether strap 40 to the small of the back. FIG. 20 depicts an attachment configuration, where restraining strap legs 46 and 48 are connected on their distal ends 52 to a D ring 142, and on their proximal ends 50 is an attachment means, such as hook material 58 for hook and loop type attachment to a belt 14. This configuration as shown in FIG. 20 can optionally include an additional stiffing patch of material 148, to help hold the legs 46 and 48 in good position for ergodynamic alignment. FIG. 21 depicts yet another closely related configuration for attaching tether straps 40, 42 to belt 14, which shows a quick connect type clip connected to the proximal portion 44 of tether strap 40, which can be easily connected and disconnected to D rings 142, 144, 146 or other connection locations. Similary, devices such as clip 150 can be used to connect the distal portion 60 of a tether strap 40 to various anchoring systems such as suction cups 100, an anchor body ring 86, or other useful locations associated with the device 10.

The device embodying the present invention is oriented on a swimmer and can be adjusted, so that proper alignment is in effect. The restraining strap can be adjusted, so the swimmer's body is maintained in proper lateral and anterior/posterior alignment. The device of the present invention can be easily, quickly and accurately customized for the particular exercise and the particular needs of the swimmer for the most efficient and effective use. The inventive device 10 can also be adapted to usage in various types and sizes of pools. This is achieved by the ability to easily adjust the length of the restraining straps, and the location of its proximal portion to the swimmers hip when attaching to the belt. Various ways of anchoring the distal ends of restraining straps is also provided for within the scope of the invention including usage of one or more suction cups, or one or more fixed anchors, among others, with or without an anchor unit spreader bar.

FIGS. 21 and 22 show additional embodiments of attachment means. The wide shaped attachment band in FIGS. 21 and 22 are V-shaped, with each leg 46 and 48 of the “V” connect near the swimmers hip H, this allows even distribution of force to the hip area, also allowing for a natural rotation of the back.

The device hip encircling belt 14 is preferably made of a thin, light weight, soft (neoprene) material that is used without restriction and prevents chafing which may occur if a jacket or a narrow waist band is used. The device embodying the present invention focuses on addressing the significant forces affecting the swimmer's body during swimming and maintains proper alignment.

Since in some embodiments, the restraining straps extend angularly from the waist downward to the center point of the anchor unit, it allows for fill mobility of the arms during the swim stroke with no interference. A spreader bar maybe used to keep the tether straps from rubbing on swimmers skin, by attaching the straps to the respective ends of the spreader bar the straps are angled outward from the swimmer staring from each hip.

The anchor unit of the present invention is easily and quickly attached to a stationary object associated with a swim spa or the like. It consists of a center attaching point for the restraining straps to connect to with a swivel so proper alignment of the swimmer is maintained. The anchor bar can be positioned for the particular stroke being used by the swimmer, yet can be easily disconnected and connected for easy knock-down and set up of the device.

A beginning swimmer can be easily accommodated as well as a skilled swimmer, or an injured person undergoing therapy. If a swimmer is hesitant to swim in a large pool or in a pool with many people, the device of the present invention can be used in a swim spa. If a swimmer requires buoyancy assistance, the device of the present invention is easily adapted to using buoyant pads for such assistance.

The device can have a numerous amount of embodiments, mostly related to the tether ends and how it attaches to both the belt at one end and the swim spa at the other end. The present belt size is designed as a one-size fits all, and uses a neoprene material which is soft and forms to the swimmers mid-section in a way that eliminates chaffing to the skin and gives a very comfortable fit and feel. The tether is designed to adjust in length, since the length of a swimmer and the swim spa can vary. This can be achieved in various ways. The material of the tether in the present invention is bungee cord, this provides some elasticity to any slack that may occur.

It is understood that while certain forms of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, it is not to be limited to the specific forms or arrangements of parts as described and shown.





 
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