When you see hardcore lake or ocean swimmers who are far from shore, you've gotta wonder – what happens if they get tired, or get a cramp? Well, there are flotation devices that they can use, although some of them are cumbersome. The Tekrapod, however, is designed not to be.
Currently, open-water swimmers sometimes tow an inflated buoy behind them, or they wear an inflatable device on an appendage such as a leg or arm. The user may get tangled in the tow cord of the former, though, while the latter can make them feel "asymmetrical" as they move through the water.
With these limitations in mind, Irish swimmer and engineer John Hanley created the Tekrapod.
Featuring a laminated neoprene body and adjustable elasticized straps, the streamlined device sits snugged up against the user's back. Should they get into trouble, they just stop and pull a red toggle at the bottom. Doing so releases a replaceable CO2 cartridge, which inflates an internal bladder that is pulled out of the backpack unit through a Velcro closure.
The swimmer then holds onto the floating bladder, which remains attached to the backpack via a tether. They can subsequently alert rescuers by blowing an attached whistle, or they can resume swimming, towing the bladder behind them. Once they get to shore, it can be deflated and stuffed back into the pack, along with a new CO2 cartridge.
For added safety, an optional waterproof LED strobe can be fitted to the top of the backpack unit, alerting boaters and other people to the swimmer's presence.
Should you be interested, the Tekrapod is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of €94 (about US$106) will get you one, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is €135 ($152).
It's demonstrated in the video below.
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