Title:
WORKOUT PLANNING AND LAP COUNTING DEVICE FOR SWIMMING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A swimming workout planning and lap counting device includes a rope or band including first and second ends and a middle portion; and a plurality of floatable indicators having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in sequence corresponding to a swimming workout plan, wherein each floatable indicator indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform, kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises or other drills to perform, and rest periods to execute, wherein the floatable indicators move on the rope/band so that after a portion of the swimming workout plan is completed, the corresponding floatable indicator is moveable from a first position to a second position on the rope/band to indicate completion of that portion of the swimming workout plan.



Inventors:
Kotz, Renee (Cabin John, MD, US)
Application Number:
13/650497
Publication Date:
04/17/2014
Filing Date:
10/12/2012
Assignee:
KOTZ RENEE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B31/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Other References:
swimmers turn lane dividers in swimming pool into an abacus by john O'brien # 8479859 original art@newyorkerstrore.com 8/12/2002
Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRIFFIN & SZIPL, PC (SUITE 112 2300 NINTH STREET, SOUTH, ARLINGTON, VA, 22204, US)
Claims:
1. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device, comprising: (a) a rope or band having a length and including a first end portion, a second end portion, and a middle portion connecting the first and second end portions; (b) a plurality of floatable indicators having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion of the rope or band so that each of the indicia indicates an element of a swimming workout plan, wherein each of the plurality of the floatable indicators is moveable on the rope from a first position to a second position on the rope or band to indicate completion of an element of the swimming workout plan; (c) an adjustable cord clamp attached to one of the first and second end portions of the rope or band so as render the length of the rope or band adjustable; and (d) a first fastener attached to the first end portion of the rope or band and a second fastener attached to the second end portion of the rope or band, wherein the first and second fasteners are configured to fasten the first and second end portions of the rope or band to first and second lane guides, respectively, so that the rope or band is extendable across a width of a swimming pool lap lane defined by the first and second lane guides.

2. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, wherein the rope or band is selected from the group consisting of elastic or non-elastic nylon, polyester, polypropylene, braided or twisted rope, and hollow or with a solid synthetic core bands, or polyurethane flexible rope.

3. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, wherein the first and second fasteners are selected from the group consisting of an oval hook, solid rope eye hooks, swivel snap hooks, snap hooks and spring hooks.

4. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, further comprising a fixed cord clamp comprising a first half shell and a second half shell configured so as to securely mate with the first half shell, wherein each of the first half shell and the second half shell comprises a channel formed therein configured to contain and clamp the other of the first and second end portions.

5. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 2, wherein the fixed cord clamp comprises plastic hook fasteners on both ends of an elastic nylon cord or a block of ethylene vinyl acetate foam comprising two separate, parallel cylindrical tunnels extending through the block, and the first end of the rope or band extends through each tunnel and is secured to the block by a plurality of knots tied in the first end portion of the rope or band.

6. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, wherein the adjustable cord clamp comprises a dynamic clamping mechanism attached to one end of the rope or band, wherein the dynamic clamping mechanism is moveable between a first position and a second position, wherein in the first position the dynamic clamping mechanism is disposed to clamp the rope or band so as to hold the length of the end portion constant, and wherein in the second position, the dynamic clamping mechanism is disposed to release the rope or band so that the length of the end portion is adjustable.

7. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 2, wherein the adjustable cord clamp comprises a block of ethylene vinyl acetate foam comprising three tunnels extending through the block, and the second end of the rope or band is disposed in the three tunnels so that the second end of the rope or band is held in place in the three tunnels by an interference fit between the walls of the three tunnels and the rope or band.

8. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of floatable indicators includes first and second end portions, and a central portion disposed between the first and second end portions, wherein when the first end portion of one floatable indicator abuts the second end portion of an adjacent floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators, there is a substantial gap of about one finger-width separating the central portion of the one floatable indicator and the central portion of the adjacent floatable indicator.

9. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 8, wherein each floatable step-shaped indicator has a middle portion having an indicative shape selected from the group consisting of a circle, a square, a hexagon, and a triangle, wherein the indicative shape indicates a work out element.

10. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 8, wherein each floatable indicator comprises ethylene vinyl acetate foam or another type of thermoplastic material.

11. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 8, wherein each floatable indicator further includes a hole formed therethrough along a central axis, wherein the hole is dimensioned to provide an interference fit between the floatable indicator and the rope or band sufficient to hold the floatable indicator in place on the rope or band against water splash and wave motion yet allow a swimmer to manually move the floatable indicator on the rope or band.

12. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 11, wherein the hole formed in each floatable indicator has a triangular, square-shaped, or polygonal cross section.

13. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 11, wherein each floatable indicator further includes a radial slit extending from the hole to an outer surface of the floatable indicator so that each floatable indicator is removable from the rope or band via the radial slit and without having to adjust the adjustable cord clamp.

14. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, wherein each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform, kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises to perform, other predetermined drills to perform, and rest periods to execute.

15. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device comprising: (a) a rope or band having a length and including a first end portion, a second end portion, and a middle portion connecting the first and second end portions; and (b) a plurality of floatable indicators having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion of the rope or band so that each of the indicia indicates an element of a swimming workout plan, wherein each of the plurality of the floatable indicators is moveable on the rope from a first position to a second position on the rope or band to indicate completion of an element of the swimming workout plan; wherein each floatable indicator further includes a hole formed therethrough along a central axis, wherein the hole is dimensioned to provide an interference fit between the floatable indicator and the rope or band that is sufficient to hold each floatable indicator in place on the rope or band against water splash and wave motion yet allow the swimmer to manually move the floatable indicator on the rope or band.

16. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 15, further comprising: (c) a first cord clamp attached to the first end of the rope or band so as to form a first loop from the first end of the rope or band; and (d) a second cord clamp attached to the second end of the rope or band so as to form a second loop from the second end of the rope or band.

17. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 16, wherein the first cord clamp and the second cord clamp are each a fixed cord clamp so that the first loop is a fixed first loop formed from the first end of the rope or band, and so that the second loop is a fixed second loop formed from the second end of the rope or band.

18. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 16, wherein the first cord clamp and the second cord clamp are each adjustable so that the first and second end portions of the rope are adjustable in length.

19. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 16, further comprising: (e) a first fastener attached to the first loop of the rope or band and a second fastener attached at the second loop of the rope or band, wherein the first fastener is configured to fasten the first end of the rope or band to a first lane guide and the second fastener is configured to fasten the second end of the rope or band to a second lane guide so that the rope or band extends across a width of a swimming pool lap lane defined by the first lane guide and the second lane guide.

20. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 15, wherein each floatable indicator further includes a radial slit that extends from the hole to an outer surface of the floatable indicator so that each floatable indicator is removable from the rope or band via the radial slit.

21. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 15, wherein permanent and/or adjustable hook fasteners are directly attached to an end of each of the first end portion and the second end portion of an elastic rope or band.

22. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 15, wherein each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform, kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises to perform, other predetermined drills to perform, and rest periods to execute.

23. A method for planning a swim workout and counting laps during the swim workout, comprising the steps of: (a) providing a swimming workout planning and lap counting device according to claim 15; (b) arranging floatable indicators in a sequence corresponding to a swimming workout plan; (c) connecting the swimming workout planning and lap counting device between two swim lane dividers or guides that define a swim lane having a width so that the swimming workout planning and lap counting device extends across the width of the swim lane; and (d) moving one of the floatable indicators of the plurality of floatable indicators from the first position to the second position on the rope or band in order to record completion of that corresponding portion of the swimming workout plan.

24. A swimming workout planning and lap counting device as recited by claim 1, wherein the adjustable cord clamp and the second fastener are attached together to form an adjustable rope hook fastener.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention pertains generally to a swimming workout planning and lap counting device for use by a swimmer swimming laps in a swimming pool. Thus, the present invention pertains to workout planning and lap counting devices that are, in particular, useful with respect to planning and executing a swimming workout.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the sport of swimming, there are numerous different swim workouts for swimmers depending upon whether the swimmer intends to improve endurance, form or speed. These workouts often involve warm-up laps, a main set of laps directed to particular drills, and cool-down laps. For an example of swim workouts for beginners, one may consider the workouts disclosed at http://beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=528 (last visited Jul. 27, 2012). Swim workouts may also include different types of swim strokes, such as the Australian crawl, the butterfly, the breaststroke, and the backstroke. Drills may include pulls, kicks and breathing drills.

Since various different customized swim workouts involving strokes and drills may be fairly complicated, the swimmer is challenged with keeping track of the lap count and the progress of the swim workout while swimming. Depending on the length of the pool (either 25 meters or 25 yards) a swimmer would have to swim between 32-35 laps (two lengths) just to swim a mile. If the swimmer loses track of the lap count, or of the parts of the swim workout completed, then the swimmer may skip laps or do too many laps, or may miss parts of the planned workout. This compromises the optimal benefit that the swimmer was hoping to achieve from the workout.

To address this problem, swimmers have devised numerous attempted solutions. For example, some swimmers type their swim workout plan onto a piece of paper, then laminate the paper or place the paper into a sealed plastic sheath so that it can be kept at poolside and consulted periodically while the swimmer is in the pool. Of course, swim coaches have been known to write a team's swim workout plan on a whiteboard or like device that is located at poolside so numerous swimmers have a list of the laps, strokes, drills, etc. for a team practice.

However, having a written copy of the swim workout plan at poolside does not help in marking the swimmer's progress through the workout. The swimmer still must keep a tally of the laps swum and keep a mental note of what portions of the workout plan have been completed. For short workouts, this may be relatively easy. However, some workouts may take one or more hours, thereby increasing the likelihood that the swimmer will keep an erroneous tally of laps swum and/or lose track of which portions of the swim workout plan have been completed.

There are many swimming lap counters that have been develop to count the number of laps swum, but none allow a swimmer to plan in advance a workout involving strokes and drills and to count them down. For example, an electronic swimming lap counter disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 7,345,958, issued to Kneafsey, is worn on the swimmer's wrist and includes an input button operable to incrementally increase the lap set number. Kneafsey's lap counter also can keep track of elapsed time during a swim. Smaller versions of such wrist worn lap counters may be worn on the swimmer's finger as disclosed by “Lap Counter Ring—Perfect for Your Triathlon Swim Training, at http://www.cheaptrigear.com/lap-counter-ring.html (2011) (last visited Jul. 27, 2012). A disadvantage to these kinds of lap counters is that they must be worn by the swimmer, and may distract the swimmer while swimming. In addition, these wrist and finger lap counters only count laps. They do not keep a record of the swimmer's progress through a swim workout plan that may involve more than one stroke or drill, nor do they allow the swimmer to plan a more complicated workout beyond setting a target number of laps to complete.

Various mechanical and electronic swim lap counters that attach to the edge (sidewall) of the pool are known. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,285,428 issued to Rosow et al. discloses a swimmer's lap counter that anchors to the pool edge and electronically displays the number of laps swum, which are incremented when the swimmer lightly touches a signal generating touch pad. U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,201 issued to Traen discloses a swimmer's lap counter device, which pertains to a manual, flip-style lap counter and a holding device for the manual flip-style counter. The holding device is held by a poolside assistant while the swimmer swims. A disadvantage of prior art mechanical and electronic swim lap counters is that these devices keep track of only the number of laps swum. They do not keep a record of the swimmer's progress through a swim workout plan that may involve more than one stroke or drill, nor do they allow the swimmer to plan a more complicated workout beyond setting a target number of laps to complete using one stroke.

Another simple swim lap counter is disclosed by Wiles (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2008/0171310, published Jul. 17, 2008). This device is an abacus style lap counter that includes a pair of floatable end blocks that attach to a sidewall of the pool, and a series of parallel rods extending between the two end blocks. Each rod carries a series of apertured beads that are moveable between the end blocks and that are used to keep a tally of the number of laps swum. The Aqua Tally Lap Counter is another abacus style lap counter, which has suction cups to attach to the pool wall, and a plurality of movable beads used to keep track of the number of laps swum (http://www.aquatally.com/How To Use.html (last visited Jul. 11, 2012)). The beads move on a bar and include four beads of one color (blue) followed by one bead that is white. One bead is moved by the swimmer at the end of each lap completed.

However, a problem with such swimming abacus-style lap counters is that the beads are readily moved by splashes and water motion, thereby disrupting the lap count. In addition, lap counters that use suction cups to attached to the pool side wall may not attached properly to pool side walls made up of tile and grout because the suction cups lose their suction on the grout seams. The beads are also not removable and can not be customized to represent an individualized workout plan.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a workout planning and manual lap counting device that may be customized in advance of the workout to reflect a series of exercises involving both strokes and drills. The present invention overcomes the problems and deficiencies of the prior art lap counting devices by providing an indication of what portions of the swimming workout the swimmer has performed, and what portions of the swimming workout the swimmer has yet to complete. It is another object of the present invention to provide a swimming workout planning and lap counting device for use by a swimmer swimming laps in a swimming pool in which the swimming workout planning and lap counting device is easy for swimmers of all ages and abilities to use, and that is simple to customize and inexpensive to manufacture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, the above objects are achieved by a swimming workout planning and lap counting device for use by a swimmer swimming laps in a swimming pool. In accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a swimming workout planning and lap counting device including: (a) a rope or band having a length and including a first end portion, a second end portion, and a middle portion connecting the first and second end portions; and (b) a plurality of floatable indicators having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion of the rope or band so that each of the indicia indicates an element of a swimming workout plan, wherein each of the plurality of the floatable indicators is moveable on the rope from a first position to a second position on the rope or band to indicate completion of an element of the swimming workout plan. In the first embodiment each floatable indicator further includes a hole formed therethrough along a central axis, wherein the hole is dimensioned to be equal in size to, or slightly larger or slightly smaller in size than, the diameter of the rope or band so as to provide an interference fit between the floatable indicator and the rope or band that is sufficient to hold each floatable indicator in place on the rope or band against water splash and wave motion yet allow the swimmer to manually move the floatable indicator on the rope or band.

This first embodiment may be modified so that both ends are fixed with permanent plastic hook fasteners, or so that the first cord clamp and the second cord clamp are each a fixed cord clamp so that the first loop is a fixed first loop formed from the first end of the rope or band, and so that the second loop is a fixed second loop formed from the second end of the rope or band. In further embodiments related to the first embodiment, the first cord clamp and the second cord clamp are each an adjustable cord clamp so that the first loop is an adjustable first loop formed from the first end of the rope or band, and the second loop is an adjustable second loop formed from the second end of the rope or band. The first embodiment may also include: (e) a first fastener attached to the first loop of the rope or band and a second fastener attached at the second loop of the rope or band, wherein the first fastener is configured to fasten the first end of the rope or band to a first lane guide and the second fastener is configured to fasten the second end of the rope or band to a second lane guide so that the rope or band extends across a width of a swimming pool lap lane defined by the first lane guide and the second lane guide. In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the each floatable indicator further includes a radial slit that extends from the hole to an outer surface of the floatable indicator so that each floatable indicator is removable from the rope or band via the radial slit.

In accordance with second embodiment of the present invention, a swimming workout planning and lap counting device, for use by a swimmer swimming laps in a swimming pool, is provided that includes: (a) a rope or band having a length and including a first end portion, a second end portion, and a middle portion connecting the first and second end portions; (b) a plurality of floatable indicators having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion of the rope or band so that each of the indicia indicates an element of a swimming workout plan, wherein each of the plurality of the floatable indicators is moveable on the rope from a first position to a second position on the rope or band to indicate completion of an element of the swimming workout plan; (c) an adjustable cord clamp or hook fastener attached to one of the first and second end portions of the rope or band so as render the length of the rope or band adjustable; and (d) a first fastener attached to the first end of the rope or band and a second fastener attached at the second end of the rope or band, wherein the first and second fasteners are configured to fasten the first and second ends of the rope or band to first and second lane guides, respectively, so that the rope or band is extendable across a width of a swimming pool lap lane defined by the first and second lane guides.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the rope or band is selected from the group consisting of elastic or non-elastic nylon, polyester, polyprophylene (or a combination of these); braided or twisted; hollow or with a solid synthetic core (such as water safety or sailing lines) or polyurethane flexible rope. In accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, the first fastener and the second fastener are each of the same kind of fastener selected from the group consisting of a plastic or (rust proof) stainless steel or chrome plated brass or electrogalvanized snap or spring hook, oval utility hook, solid rope eye hook, or swivel snap hook. In accordance with a still further embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a fixed cord clamp having a first half shell and a second half shell configured so as to mate with the first half shell, wherein each of the first half shell and the second half shell comprises a channel formed therein and a plurality of spikes for fixing the first end of the rope or band in the channel when the first half shell is mated to the second half shell and secured thereto with a plurality of screws. In accordance with a yet another embodiment of the present invention, the fixed cord clamp comprises a block of ethylene vinyl acetate foam comprising two separate, parallel cylindrical tunnels extending through the block, and the first end of the rope or band extends through each tunnel and is secured to the block by a plurality of knots tied in the first end of the rope or band.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the adjustable cord clamp comprises a dynamic clamping mechanism attached to the second end of the rope or band, wherein the dynamic clamping mechanism is moveable between a first position and a second position. In the first position the dynamic clamping mechanism is disposed to clamp the rope or band so as to hold the length of the second end constant. In the second position, the dynamic clamping mechanism is disposed to release the rope or band so that the length of the second end is adjustable. In accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention, the adjustable cord clamp comprises a block of ethylene vinyl acetate foam comprising three tunnels extending through the block, and the second end of the rope or band is disposed in the three tunnels so that the second end of the rope or band is held in place in the three tunnels by an interference fit between the walls of the three tunnels and the rope or band. In another embodiment, the adjustable plastic hook has a loop in the base of the hook in which the rope or band is pulled through to the desired length, then wrapped around the base of the hook through a groove, and fed back though the opening, held in place by a plastic lever.

In accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators includes a first end portion and a second end portion, and a central portion that is disposed between the first end portion and the second end portion, wherein when the first end portion of one floatable indicator abuts the second end portion of an adjacent floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators, there is a substantial gap separating the central portion of the one floatable indicator and the central portion of the adjacent floatable indicator, wherein the length of the gap is about one finger-width (e.g., between 0.75 cm and 1.5 cm). In accordance with a yet further embodiment of the present invention, each floatable indicator has a step-shaped lengthwise perimeter or a fusiform lengthwise perimeter. In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, each floatable indicator comprises ethylene vinyl acetate foam or another type of thermoplastic material.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, each floatable indicator further includes a hole formed therethrough along a central axis, wherein the hole is dimensioned to be the same size as, or slightly smaller or slightly larger in size than, the diameter of the rope or band so as to provide a gentle interference fit between the floatable indicator and the rope or band that is sufficient to hold the floatable indicator in place on the rope or band against water splash and wave motion yet allow the swimmer to manually move the floatable indicator on the rope or band using two or more fingers. In accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention, the hole formed in each floatable indicator has a triangular or square-shaped cross section. In accordance with other embodiments of the present invention, each floatable indicator further includes a radial slit that extends from the hole to an outer surface of the floatable indicator so that each floatable indicator is removable from the rope or band via the radial slit and without having to adjust the adjustable cord clamp and so that an elastic rope or band with permanent hook fasteners may be used. Each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform (four strokes including the option of a “choice” stroke where the swimmer gets to choose a stroke), kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises to perform, drill exercises to perform (such as alternate breathing or breathing every other stroke), and rest periods to execute.

The present invention also includes a method for planning a swim workout and for counting laps during the swim workout. Thus, in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, a method for planning a swim workout and counting laps during the swim workout is provided, wherein the method includes the steps of: (a) providing a swimming workout planning and lap counting device according to the first embodiment above or the second embodiment; (b) arranging floatable indicators in a sequence corresponding to a swimming workout plan; (c) connecting the swimming workout planning and lap counting device between two swim lane dividers or guides that define a swim lane having a width so that the swimming workout planning and lap counting device extends across the width of the swim lane; and (d) the swimmer or the swimmer's assistant moves one of the floatable indicators of the plurality of floatable indicators from the first position to the second position on the rope or band in order to record completion of that corresponding portion of the swimming workout plan.

Further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the Detailed Description of the Invention, which follows, when considered together with the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1a is a front view of a swimming workout planning and lap counting and device, in accordance with the present invention, wherein each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators is arranged in its corresponding first position. With exception of the “rest” indicator, all the floatable indictors in FIG. 1 have the same shape and thus represent one lap (50 yards/meters)

FIG. 1b is a front view of the swimming workout planning and lap counting device shown in FIG. 1a, except that some of the floatable indicators of the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in their corresponding second position indicating completion of a portion of the workout plan and some of the floatable indicators remain in their corresponding first position.

FIG. 2a is a front view of another swimming workout planning and lap counting device, in accordance with the present invention, wherein each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators is arranged in its corresponding first position. FIG. 2 shows a combination of shapes and sizes of floatable indicators representing different distances (50 m and 100 m) and the “rest” indicator.

FIG. 2b is a front view of the swimming workout planning and lap counting device shown in FIG. 2a, except that some of the floatable indicators of the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in their corresponding second position and some of the floatable indicators remain in their corresponding first position.

FIG. 3 is a front view of yet another swimming workout planning and lap counting device, in accordance with the present invention, wherein each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators is arranged in its corresponding first position. Because they have an identical shape and size, each of the floatable indicators in FIG. 3 represents the same distance.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the swimming workout planning and lap counting device shown in FIG. 3 and deployed in a swim lane of a pool for use by a swimmer S.

FIG. 5a is a rear view of a fusiform floatable indicator.

FIG. 5b is a side view of the fusiform floatable indicator of FIG. 5a.

FIG. 6a is a rear view of a step-shaped floatable indicator with a square middle portion in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 6b is a side view of the step-shaped floatable indicator of FIG. 6a.

FIG. 7a is a rear perspective view of a step-shaped floatable indicator with a circular middle portion in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 7b is a side view of the circular step-shaped floatable indicator of FIG. 7a.

FIG. 8a is front perspective view of a floatable indicator variant (star-shaped) in accordance with the present invention used to indicate rest periods.

FIG. 8b is a side view of the floatable indicator variant shown in FIG. 8a.

FIG. 9a is a side view of a fixed rope hook fastener (to be used with elastic cord) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9b is a front view of an adjustable rope hook fastener (to be used with polyurethane flexible rope) in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9c is a plan view of a fixed rope clamp in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a sequence of floatable indicators on a rope in which a varient (star-shaped) floatable indicator is used with step-shaped floatable indicators, in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates distinguishing marks and other features of kick, pull and drill floatable indicators of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to a swimming workout planning and lap counting device for use by a swimmer swimming laps in a swimming pool. The present invention is described with reference to FIGS. 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3, 4, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 9c, 10 and 11 where like parts are referred to using like character references.

First Non-limiting, Exemplary Embodiment

In accordance with one non-limiting exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a swimming workout planning and lap counting device 1, as shown in FIGS. 1a and 1b, includes a rope or band 4 that has a first end 6 and a second end 8 and a middle portion 10, wherein the middle portion 10 of the rope or band connects the first end 4 to the second end 6. The rope is preferably selected from the group consisting of nylon, polyester, polyprophylene (or a combination of these) rope, braided or twisted rope, either hollow or with a solid synthetic core (such as water safety or sailing lines). However, other kinds of rope may also be used in accordance with the invention, including rope that has some elastic properties so that it stretches, such as polyurethane flexible rope. If an elastic cord or band is used, then the band may constitute polyurethane, rubber, surgical tubing or other material possessing a relatively high elasticity so that the band is stretchable. The size of the rope or band 4 in terms of width is not particularly critical, although a ¼ in or less diameter rope is preferred.

The rope or band 4 contributes to the full length L1 of the workout planning device 1, which must be sufficient to stretch between two lane dividers in a swimming pool. For an Olympic sized pool, the regulation width of a swim lane is 8 ft 2 in (2.5 m). However, the width of swim lanes in a public pool frequently range from 6 ft 6 in to 8 ft 2 in. When an elastic rope or band is used with permanent hooks at both ends, the length L1 of the workout planning device 1 may be readily adjusted using the elasticity of the rope or band to allow the device to stretch between two adjacent lane dividers, which are separated by a distance of from 6 ft 6 in to 8 ft 2 in. Because the lane dividers are typically flexible cables or ropes themselves, if the length L1 is not equal to the width separating the lane dividers, the workout planning device 1 may still be attached between the two lane dividers. An elastic rope may also be used with adjustable hook fasteners at one or both ends.

Referring to FIG. 1a, the workout planning device 1 further includes a plurality of floatable indicators 12 having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators 12 are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion 10 of the rope or band 4 so that the sequence of the plurality of floatable indicators 12 corresponds to a swimming workout plan. Each specific floatable indicator 13, 14, 15, 16 of the plurality of floatable indicators 12 indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from one, two, or three swim designations selected from the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform, kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises to perform, other drill exercises to perform, and rest periods to execute.

In accordance with the present disclosure, the term “indicia” refers to distinctive marks, such as visual patterns, printed letters, symbols or words, and/or to color, size, or shape, of the floatable indicators, which are used to distinguish different types of indicators. In accordance with the present invention, “visual patterns” include, but are not limited to, stripes, whether vertical or horizontal, symbols of a kickboard or pull buoy, or a lightning bolt. Also, the examples below, laps are 50 yards or 50 meters, and the terms “yards” and “meters” are used interchangeably in the present description because it does not matter whether the pool length is 25 yards or 25 meters in terms of the use of the swimming workout planning and lap counting device, or the practice of the method according to the invention.

For example, in FIG. 1b, the eight indicators disposed on the rope or band 4 are distinguished from other indicators as follows. Each of the specific indicators 13, 14 and 15 may share the same color, such as green, for example, to indicate that the swimmer should swim freestyle (“Australian Crawl”) during the workout. The indicator 13 will be a solid color of green and may have the term “FREE” written on it so that the swimmer knows to swim freestyle, and not breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly, and the swimmer knows to swim using both arms (stroking) and legs (kicking) Based on the size and shape of the specific indicator 13, the swimmer will know that the workout plan calls for swimming freestyle for 50 meters and not 100 meters (abbreviated as 50 m and 100 m). The indicator 14 is also green, and has the term “KICK” written on it (and may have visual symbols indicating “kick” exercises) so that the swimmer knows to swim by kicking only, using the freestyle kick, for 50 m. Thus, for this portion of the workout plan, the swimmer would swim by performing the freestyle kick without arm strokes for 50 m. The indicator 15 is green and has the term “PULL” written on it (and may have visual symbols indicating “pull” exercises) so that the swimmer knows to swim by pulling only, which means using the freestyle arm strokes without kicking for another 50 m. The next indicator 16 corresponds to a rest period of, for example, 20-30 seconds. The rest indicator 16 may have a different color, such as, for example, black, and it may be smaller in size or different in shape than the specific indicators 13, 14 and 15. Thus, when the rest indicator 16 is in place in the workout plan, it indicates a rest period of, for example, 20-30 seconds. In sum then, the swimming workout plan shown in FIG. 1a, which is merely exemplary and non-limiting, is as follows: swim regular freestyle for 50 m, then freestyle kick for 50 m (no pulling), then freestyle arm strokes for 50 m (no kicking), and then a 20 second rest period, followed by freestyle for another 50 m, then freestyle kicking for 50 m, then freestyle pulling for 50 m, followed by another 20 second rest period

The specific floatable indicators 13, 14, 15 and 16 in FIG. 1a have a fusiform shape, in that they taper from a middle portion towards the ends. However, the floatable indicators may be stepped-shaped and have middle portions with shapes such as circle, square, hexagon, triangle shape, or the like, representing distance intervals so long as there is a substantial gap between the middle portions of neighboring floatable indicators when disposed on the rope or band and abutting one another, as shown in FIG. 1a. The gap, such as M1 between two fusiform indicators 13 and 14 of the same size is 1.5 cm. The gap, such as N1 between two fusiform indicators 15 and 16 of different sizes, is 0.75 cm. It is dimensioned so that it is easy to separate the beads with a flick of a finger, allowing about one finger width wide between the beads. A finger width is known unit of distance equal to about ¾ in, which is about 19.05 mm.

As evident from FIG. 1a, if the gap M1 is substantially about 1 finger width, then the gap N1 will be slightly less than one finger width because the gap N1 between floatable indicator 15 and smaller floatable indicator 16 will be slightly smaller than the gap M1 between the two floatable indicators 13 and 14 that are the same size as floatable indicator 15. The reason for dimensioning the gaps M1, N1 between indicators so as to be on the order of a finger width is so that a swimmer using the swimming workout planning and lap counting device 1 can easily and conveniently move the indicators, one by one, along the rope using one or two fingers. In this way, the swimmer can keep a tally regarding which portions of the workout plan have been completed versus which portions of the workout plan have yet to be completed. If the gaps M1 and N1 are made much smaller than a finger width, then the swimmer may have difficulty easily separating the floatable indicators in order to move them one by one.

As is evident from FIGS. 1a and 1b, the floatable fusiform indicators 13, 14, 15 and 16 are moveable on the rope or band 4 so that after a portion of the swimming workout plan has been completed by the swimmer, the corresponding floatable indicator(s) are moved by the swimmer, or by an assistant, from a first position to a second position on the rope or band in order to indicate completion of that portion of the swimming workout plan. In this way, the swimming workout planning and lap counting device 1 operates much like an abacus. This tallying feature of the invention is appreciable by comparing FIGS. 1a and 1b.

FIG. 1a illustrates eight floatable fusiform indicators aligned to the right on the rope or band, but they could have also been initially aligned on the left if preferred by the user of the device 1, so that they are subsequently moved to the right as portions of the swimming workout plan are completed. The sequence of these eight floatable indicators corresponds to one exemplary, non-limiting swimming workout plan. Each of the eight fusiform indicators is located in a corresponding first position, as shown in FIG. 1a. After portions of the swimming workout plan have been completed, the corresponding floating fusiform indicators should be moved to a second position indicating completion of these exercises.

For example, as shown in FIG. 1b, half of the floating indicators of FIG. 1a have been moved to a second position on the left hand side of the drawing. According to FIG. 1b, the swimmer has completed half of the workout, namely, the swimmer has completed 50 m freestyle, 50 m freestyle (kicking only), 50 m freestyle (stroking only), and a 20 second rest period. The swimmer should now begin swimming 50 m freestyle according to the next fusiform indicator in the sequence of the plurality of floatable indicators corresponding to the swimming workout plan.

The floatable indicators 13, 14, 15 and 16 float because they are made of floatable plastic material, such as closed cell polyethylene foam, or preferably, of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam or other floatable thermoplastic material. All of the floatable indicators 13, 14 and 15 have the same geometry, although floatable indicator 16 has a different shape than floatable indicators 13, 14 and 15. Therefore, the geometry of the floatable indicators of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1a and 1b will be described using floatable indicator 13, because each one of the other indicators 14 and 15 has the same geometry. As evident from FIGS. 5a and 5b, which illustrate a rear view and a side view, respectively, of floatable indicator 13, the indicator has a central portion 13c connected to two tapered portions 13t, which terminate at two respective end portions 13e. The tapered portions 13t are illustrated as linear tapers; however, the tapered portions 13t may instead possess convex or concave tapers as long as they permit a suitable gap for a finger between adjacent floatable indicators.

In the center of the floatable indicator, a circular axial hole 13h is provided that extends from one end portion 13e to the other end portion 13e of the indicator 13. The axial hole 13h is used to attach indicator 13 to the rope or band 4, which slides through the axial hole 13h, like threading a bead on a string. To help hold the floatable indicator 13 in place on the rope or band 4, the hole 13h may be triangular or square in cross section instead of circular, and the same dimension than the rope or band or slightly larger or slightly smaller. As discussed below, preferrably, the hole 13h is shaped and/or dimensioned so that the floatable indicator will be easily moveable, yet stay in place after being moved.

In FIGS. 5a and 5b, the hole 13h is shown as cylindrical, and its diameter is appropriately sized. Preferrably, the hole 13h is equal to, or slightly smaller than, the diameter of the rope or band 4 in order to provide a gentle interference fit between the rope or band 4 and the floatable indicator 13. However, it is also possible for the hole 13h to be slightly larger than the diameter of the dry rope or band 4 when the rope or band 4 is one capable of absorbing water from the pool and expanding to some degree when wet. In this way, it is possible to slide the floatable indicator 13 from one position to another second position on the rope or band 4 so that the floatable indicator remains at the second position (see, e.g., FIG. 1b) due to an interference fit, or due to friction, without floating out of position due to water splash and/or water motion. Likewise, the floatable indicator 13 remains in its first position on the rope or band 4 (see FIG. 1a) without floating along the rope or band due to water splash and/or water motion because of the gentle interference fit, or friction between, the hole 13h and the rope or band 4, which may be slightly compressed by the hole 13h.

It is also worth mentioning that because the floatable indicators 13, 14, 15 and 16 are made of floatable plastic material, such as closed cell polyethylene foam, or preferably, of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, and because the end portions of the indicators are flat, when two neighboring indicators abut one another, a thin film of water may provide an adhesive force between these abutting flat surfaces that helps maintain abutting indicators in position until they are moved. This is another reason for providing the gaps N1, M1 for fingers because it may be necessary to use two or more fingers to pull abutting indicators apart in view of the adhesive water film that may form between abutting end portions.

The indicia “FREE” seen on the front face of floatable indicator 13 in FIG. 1a is not seen in the rear and side views of FIGS. 5a and 5b, respectively. As evident from FIGS. 5a and 5b, the floatable indicator 13 may be provided with a radial slit 13s that extends contiguously from the hole 13h radially to the surface of the indicator 13, and that extends the whole length of the hole 13h from one end 13e to the other end 13e. The slit 13s allows the indicator 13 to be opened up using the front face 13f of the indicator 13 as a spring that couples the upper and lower arms 13a, 13b, respectively, formed on the rear face by the presence of the slit 13s. In this way, the floatable indicator 13 can be pried open so that the rope or band 4 can be placed in the hole 13h via the slit 13s. In this way, the floatable indicators may easily be placed on, and removed from, the rope or band at any time.

However, it is within the scope of the present invention that the indicators are not provided with the optional slit. In such a case, the indicators are threaded onto the rope or band 4 using the hole 13h, just like threading a bead on a string, and are not interchangeable unless the device 1 is provide with an adjustable cord clamp or hook fastener, such as is a component of other embodiments of the invention to be described later.

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 1 further includes a first fixed cord clamp 20 attached to the first end 6 of the rope or band 4 so as to form a fixed first loop 26 from the first end of the rope or band, and a second fixed cord clamp 22 attached to the second end 8 of the rope or band 4 so as to form a fixed second loop 28 from the second end of the rope or band. In this example, the fixed cord clamps 20, 22 include wire or nylon 30 wrapped around the ends 6, 8 of the rope or band 4 to form a fixed loop 26, 28, respectively, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,544,155, which is incorporated herein by reference. A sheath 32 made of latex covers the wire or nylon 30 to protect it and to keep it from unraveling. However, other fixed cord clamps may be used such as the Rope Clamps, SKU:0217, available from Knot & Rope Supply Ltd., Perrysburg, Ohio.

Another fixed cord clamp useable in device 1 consists of a block of floatable plastic material, such as closed cell polyethylene foam, or preferably, of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, provided with two elongated holes 24 extending therethrough so that the rope or band 4 is threaded through the each one of the holes to form a loop 29 as shown in FIG. 9b. As shown in FIG. 9b, the loop 29 is fixed by four knots 11 tied in the rope or band 4, which secure the loop because the knots are substantially larger in diameter than the diameter of the elongated holes formed in the block. As shown in FIG. 9a, another fixed cord fastener is made from plastic and attached to the both ends of an elastic rope without the use of loops or knots. The fixed cord fasterer 500 of FIG. 9a is fixed directly to the end of an elastic rope or band 4 without the need to form a loop. In the context of this disclosure, a “fixed cord clamp or fastener” is a cord clamp or fastener that fixes an end of the rope to form a permanent end or fixed loop that is either not adjustable at all, or that cannot be adjusted without substantially disassembling the cord clamping structure.

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 1 further includes a first fastener 40 attached to the loop 26 formed by the first end 6 of the rope or band 4 and a second fastener 42 attached to the loop 28 formed by the second end 8 of the rope or band 4, wherein the first fastener is configured to fasten the first end of the rope or band to a first lane guide FLG and the second fastener is configured to fasten the second end to a second lane guide SLG so that the rope or band extends across a width U of a swimming pool lap lane defined by the first lane guide and the second lane guide (See, e.g., FIG. 4). The fasteners 40 and 42 of FIG. 1a are illustrated as oval snap hooks, and may be made of rust proof metal or plastic. However, fasteners 40 and 42 could also be a snap hook or carabiner with or without a screw nut, or a non-swivel hook.

Second Non-Limiting, Exemplary Embodiment

In accordance with another non-limiting exemplary embodiment of the invention, a swimming workout planning and lap counting device 100, as shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b, includes a rope or band 4 that has a first end 6 and a second end 8 and a middle portion 10, wherein the middle portion 10 of the rope or band connects the first end 4 to the second end 6. This second embodiment employs the same kinds of rope or band 4 as employed with the first non-limiting, embodiment discussed above. The second embodiment, however, has the advantage that it is provided with an adjustable cord clamp 130, which will be described in more detail below. For now, suffice it to say that the adjustable cord clamp 130 makes it possible to adjust the length L2 of a non-elastic rope shown in FIG. 2a so that the device can extend across the width of a typical swimming lane, which generally ranges from 6 ft 6 in to 8 ft 2 in.

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 100 further includes a plurality of floatable indicators 102 having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators 102 are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion 10 of the rope or band 4 so that the sequence of the plurality of floatable indicators corresponds to a swimming workout plan, wherein each floatable indicator 113, 114, 115, 116 of the plurality of floatable indicators 102 indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from one, two, or three swim designations selected from the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform, kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises to perform, other drills to perform, and rest periods to execute, wherein the floatable indicators 113, 114, 115, 116 are moveable on the rope so that after a portion of the swimming workout plan has been completed by the swimmer, the corresponding floatable indicator is moveable from a first position, as shown in FIG. 2a, to a second position on the rope or band, as shown in FIG. 2b, in order to indicate completion of that portion of the swimming workout plan. In this way, the swimming workout planning and lap counting device 100 operates much like an abacus, and the tallying feature of the device 100 is appreciable by comparing FIGS. 2a and 2b.

FIG. 2a illustrates nine floatable indicators 113, 114, 115 and 116 aligned to the right on the rope or band 4. Of course, these floatable indicators could begin lined up on the left-hand side instead, depending on the preference of the swimmer. The sequence of these nine floatable indicators corresponds to a second exemplary, non-limiting workout plan involving both 50 m and 100 m distance indicators. Each of the nine indicators is located in a corresponding first position, as shown in FIG. 2a. After portions of the swimming workout plan have been completed, the corresponding floating indicators should be moved to a second position indicating completion of these exercises.

For example, as shown in FIG. 2b, four of the floating indicators of FIG. 2a have been moved to a second position on the left hand side of the drawing. According to FIG. 2b, the swimmer has completed just less than half of the workout, namely, the swimmer has swum 50 m, then rested for a substantial period (i.e., at least 20-30 seconds), and then swam 100 m and then rested for another substantial period (i.e., at least 20-30 seconds). In this case, the substantial rest periods can be set periods of 20 seconds or longer. If these are to be swum as sprints, the indicator would be marked as “SPRINT” (or, for example, using a visual symbol such as “lightening bolt” markings). The next exercise for the swimmer to perform is 100 m before taking the next rest.

As evident from FIGS. 2a and 2b, the size of the rest indicators 114 may be the same and equal to the length of indicator 113 (5 cm); wherein, the only difference is that its width is smaller (1 cm vs. 2.5 cm). The size of the indicators 113, 115 and 116 could vary depending on the distance they represent (as shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b), or alternatively, the size could remain constant among all beads and just the shapes of the middle portion of the indicator could be different depending on the distance it represents: for example, a circular middle portion represents a 50 m and a square middle portion represents a 100 m (as shown in FIGS. 6a/6b and 7a/7b); other shapes could represent other distances, such as a hexagon for 200 m, a triangle for 300 m and so on. Thus, in this example, the size or shape of the indicator may be used as an important indicia distinguishing the different distance indicators. Whereas the swimmer would move the 50 m bead from first to second position for every lap completed, the swimmer would move the 100 m bead every second lap completed.

In this example, the stroke for the swimmer to perform is not specifically indicated based on the FIGS. 2a and 2b. Stroke may be indicated by the color of the floatable indicators. For example, the surface of the distance indicators 113, 115, 116 could be painted or coated green to indicate that the stroke is freestyle, and the indicia 50, 100, 200, etc. may be designated by the shape of the middle portion of the bead and may be written thereon in black or dark lettering to indicate the distance the swimmer should swim the freestyle stroke. In the alternative, the plastic material used to make the distance indicators 113, 115, 116 could be colored green to indicate that the stroke is freestyle, and the black or dark lettering is then disposed on the surface of the colored green plastic material.

On the other hand, if the stroke should be backstroke, or butterfly, or breaststroke, instead, then the coloring of the indicators could be, for example, blue, or yellow, or red/pink, respectively. A indicator that allows the swimmer to choose a stroke is purple and labeled “choice.” However, the present invention is not limited to any particular color scheme. In accordance with the present invention, different colors may be used as indicia to distinguish different stroke floatable indicators. It is also possible for the swimmer to determine his/her own color and stroke association if the beads are not marked. Furthermore, the surface of the rest indicators 114 could be painted or coated black, with or without the word “REST” written on the painted or coated surface in white lettering, or, in the alternative, the plastic material used to make the rest indicators 114 may be colored black with the white lettering painted on the black surface. The rest bead may also be easily distinguished by a unique star shape (see FIGS. 8a and 8b), thus rendering labeling with the word “REST” unnecessary.

In sum, then, the swimming workout plan shown in FIG. 2a, which is merely exemplary and non-limiting, constitutes the following work-out plan: swim 50 m, then rest (e.g., 20 seconds), then swim 100 m, then rest (e.g., 20 seconds), then swim 100 yards, then rest (e.g., 20 seconds), then swim 100 m, then rest (e.g., 20 seconds), then swim 50 yards. Although the stroke is not indicated based on the structure and geometry shown in FIG. 2a, the distance indicators 113, 115 and 116 could be colored red if the stroke should be the breaststroke, or the distance indicators could be colored blue if the stroke should be the backstroke, or the distance indicators could be colored green if the stroke should be the freestyle, or the distance indicators could be colored yellow if the stroke should be butterfly or purple if the swimmer should choose a stroke.

The material used to make the floating indicators 113, 114, 115 and 116 is the same material used to make the floating indicators 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the first non-limiting embodiment. However, the geometry of the 100 m indicators 115 and 116 is substantially different from the geometry of the 50 m indicators 13, 14, 15 and from the geometry of the rest indicator 16 of the first non-limiting exemplary embodiment. In the first exemplary embodiment, the geometry of the indicators 13, 14, 15 and 16 is fusiform as shown in FIGS. 1a, 1b, 5a and 5b, whereas the geometry of the indicators 113, 114, 115 and 116 is characterized as “step-shaped” in view of the stepped cross section profile of these indicators, as shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b, 6a, 6b, 7a and 7b.

FIGS. 7a and 7b are perspective and side views of a standard (circular) step-shaped 50 yard/meter floatable indicator 113. The distance indicator includes a middle portion 113m and two side portions 113s attached to opposite sides of the middle portion 113m. Each of the middle portion 113m and the two side portions 113s constitute cylindrical disks having different diameters. As evident from FIGS. 7a and 7b, the diameter of the middle portion 113m is substantially larger than the diameter of the side portions 113s, and each side portion 113s has the same diameter as the other side portion 113s. An axial hole 113h is formed through the centers of the middle portion 113m and the side portions 113s, and constitutes one continuous hole extending from one side end 113e of the indicator 113 through to the other side end of the indicator 113.

FIGS. 7a and 7b include a non-limiting size scale for the floatable 50 m indicator 113. For example, the middle portion 113m may be 5 cm in diameter and have a width of 1 cm, and the side portions 113s may be 3 cm in diameter and each have a width of 0.75 cm. The hole 113h, through which the rope or band 4 is thread, is shown as a triangular hole, and is dimensioned so that its equivalent diameter 120 is equal to, or slightly larger or slightly smaller than, the diameter of the rope or band 4 so there is a gentle interference fit between the hole 113h of the floatable indicator 113 and the rope or band 4.

According to the present disclosure, the “equivalent diameter” of a non-circular hole, such as a triangular or square hole, is the diameter of the corresponding imaginary circular hole that fits within the walls of the non-circular hole. Of course, hole 113h could have been made as a circular hole or a square hole, instead of as a triangular hole. Non-circular holes have the advantage of providing a better interference fit with a flexible rope or band than a circular hole with respect to providing an interference fit that holds the floatable indicator in place on the rope or band against splash and waves when in water, yet allows the swimmer to easily move the floatable indicator along the rope or band when it is time to move the floatable indicator from its first position to its second position, thereby indicating completion of a portion of the swimming workout.

The other distance indicators, such as the 100 m indicators 115 and 116, may be larger in size as shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b, or they may have the same dimension of 50 m indicator 113, but the shape of the middle portion may be different, so that, for example, the diameter and width of the circular middle portion of the 50 m indicator 113 is the same as the length and width of the square middle portion of the 100 m indicator 115 and 116 as shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b and 7a and 7b. An advantage provided by all the step-shaped indicators of FIGS. 2a, 2b, 6a, 6b, 7a, and 7b, is that the side portions may be standardized for all of the floatable indicators 113, 115 and 116 so that the gap N2 between adjacent, abutting indicators is the same regardless of which two indicators abut one another on the rope or band.

For example, if the side portions of all of the indicators 113, 115 and 116 have the same width, namely, 0.75 cm, then any two abutting side portions will create a gap N2 that is 1.5 cm or about one finger width wide. If the distance indicators abutt to the “rest” indicators, a gap of 0.75 cm is created by the side portions of the distance indicators. As discussed above, having a gap between adjacent, abutting indicators facilitates separation of the indicators using one or two or more fingers when it is time to move successive indicators from the first position to the second position as the swimmer completes successive portions of the swimming workout plan.

A radial slit 113r may optionally be provided in the floatable indicator 113 that extends contiguously from the hole 113h radially to the surface of indicator, and that extends from one end 113e to the other end 113e of the indicator. With this structure, the indicator 113a is provided with arms 113a, 113b that are separable, using rear face 113f as a spring, which biases the arms 113a, 113b together. In this way, the floatable indicator 113 can be prised opened so that the rope or band 4 can be placed in the non-circular hole 113h via the slit 113r. This structure provides a mechanism for easily placing the floatable step-shaped indicators on the rope or band, or removing them from the rope or band, at any time. In those embodiments without the radial slit 113r, the step-shaped floatable indicators must be placed on the rope or band 4 by threading the rope or band through the axial hole 113h. Of course, the other distance indicators 115, 116 have the same axial hole structure and, optionally, the same radial slit structure that the floatable indicator 113 possesses, which would apply to all other distance indicators as well (for 200 m, 300 m, 400 m and so on).

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 100 further includes a fixed cord clamp 124 attached to the first end 6 of the rope or band 4 so as to form a fixed first loop 126 from the first end of the rope or band. Preferably, the fixed cord clamp 126 is a rope clamp available from Knot & Rope Supply, LTd., Perrysburg, Ohio, which is comprised of two mating half shells, each provided with a plurality of internal spikes, so that the two half shells are position on the first end of the rope or band to form a fixed loop, and the two shells are matingly secured together using a plurality of screws. However, other fixed cord clamps may be used, such as the fixed cord clamps illustrated in FIGS. 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 9a and 9c. As illustrated in FIG. 9a, permanent plastic hook fasteners 500 may be used on the ends of elastic ropes (as is available from AquaJogger, Excel Sports Science, Inc, Springfield, Oreg.). When a plastic hook fastener 500, as shown in FIG. 9a is used, the fastener 500 fixes directly to the end of the rope or band 4 without forming a loop.

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 100 also includes an adjustable cord clamp 130 attached to the second end 8 of the rope or band 4 so as to form an adjustable second loop 132 from the second end of the rope or band, and wherein the adjustable cord clamp 130 is detachable from the rope or band. The adjustable cord clamp 130 permits adjustment of the size of the loop 132, which will make the length L2 of the workout planning device 100 adjustable as well. Thus, when the device 100 is attached to swim lane dividers FLG and SLG, the length of the device may be adjusted using the adjustable cord clamp 130 so that it fits the width of the swim lane, which may range from 6.5 feet to 8.16 feet. In the context of this disclosure, an “adjustable cord clamp” is a cord clamp that adjusts an end of the rope so that the length of the rope can be readily adjusted without substantially disassembling the cord clamping structure.

The adjustable cord clamp 130 may be a dynamic adjustable cord clamp or a passive adjustable cord clamp. A dynamic adjustable cord clamp has one or more moving parts, such as a clamping mechanism that attaches to the end of a rope, wherein the clamping mechanism is moveable between a first position and a second position, wherein in the first position the clamping mechanism is disposed to clamp the rope so as to hold the diameter of the a loop constant, and wherein in the second position, the clamping mechanism is disposed to release the rope so that the diameter of the loop is adjustable. An example of a dynamic adjustable cord clamp includes the apparatus disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 5,408,729, which is incorporated herein by reference for all that it discloses. Another example of a dynamic adjustable cord clamp is the rope lock available from Accutex Sales and Services, http://www.indiamart.com/accutex/rope-locks.html.

A passive adjustable cord clamp works to clamp a rope to form a loop without the use of moving parts. Examples of passive adjustable cord clamps, such as may be employed as the adjustable cord clamp 130, include the devices disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 5,339,498, U.S. Pat. No. 5,987,711, or U.S. Pat. No. 6,094,783, which are incorporated herein by reference. A passive adjustable cord clamp is shown in FIG. 3, and consists of a floatable block of plastic material, such as closed cell polyethylene foam, or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, provided with three holes or tunnels formed in the block and extending through the block so that the rope or band 4 can be threaded through the block to form an adjustable loop. The block may be relatively small, about 4 cm long by 3 cm wide by 3 cm deep. Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 9b, a preferred passive adjustable clamp (that does not involve moving parts or forming a loop) is the adjustable plastic hook fastener 501 that may be used on one or both ends of polyurethane flexible rope (as is available from ProFlex, ProFlex MFG Inc, Macon, Ga.).

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 100 also includes a first fastener 136 attached to the first end 6 of the rope or band 4 and a second fastener 138 attached at the second end 8 of the rope or band 4. The first fastener 136 and the second fastener are configured to fasten the first end 6, and the second end 8, of the rope or band 4 respectively to a first lane guide and a second lane guide so that the rope or band 4 extends across a width of a swimming pool lap lane defined by the first lane guide and the second lane guide (See, e.g., FIG. 4). In the embodiment of FIGS. 2a and 2b, the first fastener 136 and the second fastener 138 are embodied as simple metal or plastic hooks provided with an eyelet 137, 139, respectively, through which the rope or band 4 is threaded to connect each fastener to its respective loop. However, other fasteners may be used, such as a oval snap hook or carabiner with or without a screw nut, or a swivel snap hook.

Third Non-Limiting, Exemplary Embodiment

FIG. 3 shows a third non-limiting, exemplary embodiment, in which a swimming workout planning and lap counting device 200 is provided with a rope or band 4, and a plurality of floatable fusiform indicators 202 arranged in sequence on the rope or band to form a swimming workout plan. The plurality of floatable indicators 202 include floatable indicators 13, which indicate that the stroke to swim is freestyle for 50 m, and floatable indicators 212, which indicate that the stroke to swim is breaststroke for 50 m. If desired, the floatable indicators 13 could have a green coloring and the floatable breaststroke indicators 212 could have a red/pink coloring as indicia of stroke in addition to the lettering indicia identifying the stroke. The swimming workout plan also includes floatable rest indicators 16, which may be colored black with white lettering, if desired. According to the swimming workout plan shown in the embodiment of FIG. 3, the swimmer is to swim 50 m freestyle, repeated five times, for a total of 250 yards freestyle, followed by a single rest period of, for example, 20-60 seconds, followed by swimming 50 m breaststroke, repeated ten times, for a total of 500 yards breaststroke, followed by three successive rest periods for a total rest period of 60-180 seconds.

FIG. 3 shows the plurality of floatable fusiform indicators 202 disposed to the right-hand side of the middle portion of the rope or band 4, in a first position, before the swimmer has begun to execute the workout. Of course, the plurality of indicators 202 could have been aligned on the left-hand side, so that the indicators are moved from left to right, instead of right to left, when in use. In this embodiment of FIG. 3, the swimming workout planning device 200 is provided with two adjustable rope clamps 230, one disposed on each of the first end 6 and the second end 8 of the rope or band 4. Each of the adjustable rope clamps 230 is a passive adjustable rope clamp fashioned from a block of plastic material, such as closed cell polyethylene foam, or EVA foam, in which three separate parallel, elongated cylindrical holes or tunnels 235 have been formed to extend completely through the block.

As shown in FIG. 3, each end 6, 8 of the rope or band 4 is thread through the three holes 235 of one of the two adjustable cord clamps 230 in a serpentine manner so as to form an adjustable loop. The three holes 235 each have a diameter that is equal to or slightly smaller than the diameter of the rope or band so that the rope or band is compressed by the holes 235 in order to provide a gentle interference fit between the block and the rope or band. In this way, a first adjustable loop 238 is formed in the first end 6, and a second adjustable loop 240 is formed in the second end 8, of the rope or band 4. Thus, the swimmer may use one or both of the adjustable cord clamps 230 to adjust the length of the swimming workout device 200 so that it matches the width U of the swim lane defined by two swim lane dividers or guides FLG, SLG, as shown in FIG. 4.

The swimming workout planning and lap counting device 200 further may include fasteners 250 attached to each of the first adjustable loop 238 and the second adjustable loop 240. The fasteners 250 in this embodiment are illustrated as oval snap hooks or carabiners provided with a screw nut 252 that is used to secure a moveable hinged pin 254. The fasteners 250 are typically plastic or metal, which is advantageous because the swim lane dividers or guides to which they attach may be metal cables. Such metal cables may place excessive wear on the rope or band 4 if the rope or band is connected directly to the swim lane dividers or guide. However, it is within the scope of the present invention to employ the swimming workout device 200 without the fasteners 250 so that the first adjustable loop 6 and the second adjustable loop 8 of the rope or band 4 are attached directly to the cables of the swim lane dividers or guides.

Method Embodiment of the Invention

The present invention includes a method for planning a swim workout and counting laps during the swim workout. This method includes the steps of: (a) providing a swimming workout planning and lap counting device, such as one of the swimming workout planning and lap counting devices 1, 100 and 200 described above; (b) arranging floatable indicators in a sequence corresponding to a swimming workout plan; (c) connecting the swimming workout planning and lap counting device between two swim lane dividers or guides that define a swim lane having a width so that the swimming workout planning and lap counting device extends across the width of the swim lane; and (d) moving one of the floatable indicators of the plurality of floatable indicators from the first position to the second position on the rope or band in order to record completion of that corresponding portion of the swimming workout plan. FIG. 4 illustrates this method in action.

Miscellaneous Additional Embodiments and/or Variations According to the Present Invention

In those embodiments of the present invention in which the ends 6 or 8 of the rope or band 4 are free, the ends may be capped off with either a plastic cap or with a dipped plastic or latex coating 260 in order to prevent the rope or band from fraying or unraveling at its ends.

With respect to the plurality of floatable/floating indicators, it is preferred that the floatable indicators are molded EVA foam or other thermoplatic material that have a maximum circular diameter or length of 5 cm, and a preferred color scheme as follows: yellow corresponds to butterfly stroke, blue corresponds to backstroke, pink corresponds to breaststroke, green corresponds to freestyle stroke, purple corresponds to a swimmer's “choice” stroke, and black corresponds to a rest period. Although, if the beads are not marked, a swimmer is free to make his/her own color and stoke association. A standard bead corresponding to 50 m or 100 m (or other distance) (colored according to stroke) is 2.5 cm wide. A “rest” bead, however, is thinner, such as 1 cm wide as shown in FIGS. 8a and 8b. Lettering on the standard distance beads is preferably black, and lettering on the rest bead is preferably white.

A set of 50 m floatable indicators (beads) representing various strokes and drills includes twenty-five different swimming beads. As described above, there are four different strokes (i.e., butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle) represented by four different colored beads (e.g., yellow, blue, pink, green) plus a “choice” bead, represented by purple, to indicate the swimmer may choose his stroke. There is also one pull bead for each of the four different strokes, and there is one kick bead for each of the four different strokes, and there is one drill bead for each of the four different strokes, and there is one sprint bead for each of the four strokes, for a total of twenty-five beads. A sprint bead indicates that the swimmer should sprint the distance (50 m or 100 m depending on the bead shape). A drill bead corresponds to a particular muscle exercise executed with a particular stroke, as are known in the art of swimming. The set of 100 m beads also contains twenty-five beads as described above. These two sets representing two distances (50 m and 100 m) may be used in combination. There is one rest bead that can be used for both sets making it 26 beads in total per set.

As described above, a preferred set of beads (i.e., a preferred plurality of floatable indicators) includes at least 26 different beads. Of course, a set of beads employed by the present invention may include one or more duplicates of one or more of the different types of beads listed above, so that sets of more than 26 different beads may be used together. In addition, it is within the scope of the present invention to use the 50 m floatable indicators and 100 m floatable indicators together on the same rope or band.

FIG. 10 illustrates a plurality of floatable indicators (beads) demonstrating the use of indicia in accordance with the present invention in order to designate different types of beads. For example, bead 300 is a 50 m backstroke bead employing the color blue, black lettering, a step-shape, with circular middle portion to distinguish this bead. Next to it, bead 310 is a 100 m butterfly bead employing the color yellow, black lettering, and configured with a 5 cm square shaped middle portion of the indicator to distinguish this bead as 100 m. The bead 320 is a 50 m breaststroke bead that employs the color pink, black lettering, a circle-shape to distinguish this bead as 50 m. Bead 330 is is a rest bead colored black and may be marked “rest” with white lettering, and that is configured as a 5 cm diameter star with a width of about 1 cm. Bead 340 is a 50 m freestyle bead that is the color green, configured with a 5 cm circular middle portion, with the “lightening bolt” design to indicate a sprint.

FIG. 11 illustrates exemplary configurations for pull, kick, drill and sprint beads. Bead 350 is a 50 m pull bead indicating breaststroke because it is colored pink, and has the size and shape of a 50 m bead. The pull bead 350 may include the word “PULL” and/or have a visual symbol such as a pull buoy or one or more continuous white lines 355 running along the circumference of the middle portion to indicate that the bead is a pull bead. Of course, choosing another color changes the pull bead's stroke and choosing another shape changes its distance designation. For example, bead 380 is a 100 m pull bead indicating freestyle because it is colored green, has the size and square shape of a 100 m bead, and includes the word “PULL” and/or has a visual pull symbol, e.g., one or more continuous white lines 385 running along the circumference of its middle portion. The pull beads 350 and 380 indicate that the swimmer should perform only the arm movements of the stroke with or without the use of a pull buoy. Similar pull beads for the butterfly, backstroke and “choice” stroke would have the word “PULL” and/or the same distinctive visual symbols (e.g., circumferential white line marks) but would be colored yellow, blue and purple respectively, and be the shape of either a 50 m or 100 m bead.

In FIG. 11, the bead 360 is a 50 m kick bead indicating backstroke because it is colored blue, and has the size and shape of a 50 m bead. The kick bead 360 may include the word “KICK” and/or include a visual symbol, such as a kickboard or a plurality of while axial lines 365 arranged along the circumference of the middle portion of the bead to indicate that it is a kick bead. The kick bead 360 indicates that the swimmer should perform only the kick movements of the stroke with or without the use of a kickboard. Of course, choosing another color changes the kick bead's stroke designation and another shape changes the kick bead's distance designation. Similar kick beads for 50 m butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke and “choice” kicks would have the same shape, size, and may be marked “KICK” with or without distinctive visual symbols (e.g., axial white line marks), but would be colored yellow, green and pink/red or purple, respectively.

Bead 370 is a 50 m drill bead indicating butterfly stroke because it is colored yellow, and has the size and shape of a 50 m bead. The drill bead 370 includes a plurality of while circles 375 arranged along the circumference of the middle portion of the bead to indicate that it is a drill bead and may include the word “DRILL” on it. The drill bead 370 indicates that the swimmer should perform a drill related to that stroke. Of course, choosing another color changes the drill bead's stroke designation and another shape changes the drill bead's distance. Similar 50 m drill beads for the backstroke, freestyle, breaststroke and “choice” stroke would have the same shape, size, and distinctive visual symbols (e.g., circle marks along the circumference of the middle portion), but would be colored blue, green, pink and purple, respectively.

The sequence of beads on the rope or band 4 of the swimming workout planning and lap counting device constitutes a swimming workout plan. The sequence can be repeated (in the reverse order) if a swimmer wanted to double his distance without using twice as many beads. Two non-limiting workout examples are as follows.

In Sample Workout A, the swimmer begins with alternating swimming 50 m crawl, then 50 m flutter kick, until the swimmer has swum 150 m, then the swimmer rests for 20 seconds. The swimmer repeats this sequence for another 150 m, then rests for 20 seconds. Next, the swimmer swims crawl stroke for 300 m then rests for 20 seconds, followed by swimming 150 m crawl, then rest 20 seconds, then swims another 150 m crawl, then rest 20 seconds, followed by six 50 m sprints, followed by a 20 second rest. Next, the swimmer kicks breaststroke for 50 m, pulls backstroke for 50 m, swims butterfly for 50 m and then freestyle for 50 m, followed by a rest of 20 seconds, and then butterfly 50 m sprint, then backstroke 50 m sprint, rest for 20 seconds, and then swim a warm-down with freestyle for 50 yards.

The corresponding sequence of floatable indicators on the rope or band using only 50 m distance beads would include the following: 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m kick freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, rest bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m kick freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, rest bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, rest bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, 50 m freestyle bead, rest bead, 50 m sprint bead (crawl), 50 m sprint bead (crawl), 50 m sprint bead (crawl), 50 m sprint bead (crawl), 50 m sprint bead (crawl), 50 m sprint bead (crawl), rest bead, 50 m kick breaststroke bead, 50 m pull backstroke bead, 50 m butterfly bead, 50 m freestyle bead, rest bead, 50 m sprint butterfly bead, 50 m sprint backstroke bead, rest bead, and 50 m freestyle bead.

In Sample Workout B, the swimmer swims five laps (each lap is 50 m or 50 yards) of fast freestyle, then rests for 20 seconds, then swims ten laps of breaststroke, and rests for one minute, then either repeats the workout substituting “choice” stroke for free and backstroke for breaststroke. Using a combination of 50 m and 100 m distance beads, the corresponding sequence of floatable indicators on the rope or band would include the following: 50 m freestyle sprint bead, 50 m freestyle sprint bead, 50 m freestyle sprint bead, 50 m freestyle sprint bead, 50 m sprint freestyle bead, 20 second rest bead, 100 m breaststroke bead, 100 m breaststroke bead, 100 m breaststroke bead, 100 m breaststroke bead, 100 m breaststroke bead, 20 second rest bead, 20 second rest bead, 20 second rest bead, 50 m choice bead, 50 m choice bead, 50 m choice bead, 50 m choice bead, 50 m choice bead, 20 second rest bead, 100 m backstroke bead, 100 m backstroke bead, 100 m backstroke bead, 100 m backstroke bead, 100 m backstroke bead.

The present invention is not limited to the Sample Workouts A and B. These sample workouts are provided to shown how the swimming workout planning and lap counting device of the present invention may be used to both plan and count complicated swimming workout plans. In the above examples, laps are 50 yards or 50 meters, and the terms “yards” and “meters” are used interchangeably in the present description because it does not matter whether the pool length is 25 yards or 25 meters in terms of the use of the swimming workout planning and lap counting device, or the practice of the method according to the invention. There is almost no limit to the workout permutations that may be accommodated by the various floatable indicator beads of the present invention.

An important feature of the present invention that permits such versatility in providing workout plans that can be monitored during a swim is due to the use of a plurality of floatable indicators having a plurality of indicia, wherein the plurality of floatable indicators are arranged in a sequence on the middle portion of the rope or band so that the sequence of the plurality of floatable indicators corresponds to a desired swimming workout plan, wherein each floatable indicator of the plurality of floatable indicators indicates, based on indicia, a portion of the swimming workout plan selected from one, two, three or more of the group consisting of one or more specific numbers of laps to swim, stroking techniques to perform (freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly or “choice” stroke), kicking techniques to perform, pulling exercises to perform, other drills (e.g. breathing) to perform, and rest periods to execute, wherein the floatable indicators are moveable on the rope so that after a portion of the swimming workout plan has been completed by the swimmer, the corresponding floatable indicator is moveable from a first position to a second position on the rope or band in order to indicate completion of that portion of the swimming workout plan.

In accordance with a preferred, non-limiting embodiment of the present invention, the embodiment according to FIG. 1 is modified so that the fixed cord clamps 20, 22, fixed loops 26, 28, and fasteners 40 and 42 are replaced with the permanent plastic hook fasteners 500 of FIG. 9a and/or adjustable plastic hook fasteners 501 of FIG. 9b. Thus, in accordance with this embodiment, plastic hook fasteners 500 and 501 are directly attached to each one of the ends 6 and 8 of the rope or band 4 without the use of any loops. (Either of the plastic hook fasteners 500 and 501 can be used on one or both ends of a flexible rope).

While the present invention has been described with reference to certain embodiments, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize, that additions, deletions, substitutions and improvements can be made while remaining within the scope and spirit of the invention as defined by the appended claims.