As Ödyssey SwimRun Austin approaches, I’ve gotten tons of questions about, of all things, tethers. Since it is a required item for the upcoming race, and lots of new folks will be racing this event, there seems to be a lot of chatter about them.
A tether is nothing more than a rope or cord that can be used to attach two swimrun teammates together. Outside of having an obvious safety benefit, especially in very cold, long swims, it is also something that can make you faster as a team. In the swim, the tether can be used for the stronger/faster swimmer to tow the other. Think of this as the same sort of concept of riding a tandem bike.
No, this doesn’t mean that the towed swimmer gets a free ride, instead, both swimmers still swim. What it does is to help normalize the swim speed of the two, and keep them together. Not only does the towed swimmer stay in the front swimmer’s draft, but it also provides some motivation to “keep up”. Additionally, it allows the front swimmer to stay warm by doing a little extra work as opposed to swimming, waiting (treading in cold water), swimming and waiting some more.
Some teams also use the tether on land, using the same concept on the run.
I’ve been asked through various channels a variety of questions, so I figured I would provide instructions on how to make your own.
This is something that is best explained with a video, so I quickly threw this one together for you: