Interesting. I never swim alone in open water and usually trade-off with someone in a kayak. A bit of a hassle, I imagine, to flip the flag belt from your back to front when doing a few backstrokes. Good luck, I'm sure it would be useful to some folks here.
I had some friends who just tied a big yellow rubber duckie to their ankle.
I personally just keep my ears and eyes out for boats.
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Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. If you can, the buddy system. Even with a flag, you still have to look out.
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A few people in my group swim with a buoy that pulls behind them:
I just swim with a partner, wear a bright cap, away from any boats.
Looks like a good idea. If I don't go with a group, I usually pull a bright orange boogy board behind me with a simple loop around my shoulders. Helps with the visibility and if I have a problem in the middle of the lake, at least I have something to hang on to.
I have one on the bright colored lifeguard buoys (from Keifer), attached with a waistbelt. Haven't needed it, but does make swimming alone in the local lake (no motorized boats allowed) feel more comfortable.
I often swim in Lake MI and do not have a training partner out there. The buoy is an interesting idea. I normally only swim if it is relatively flat, fairly early in the morning along the swim zone, so boats are not an issue. I also almost always wear my wetsuit with the floatation incase I do manage to get into trouble. Even when it is relatively calm, it is surprising the amount of current you can feel, especially when you get near objects such as the pier!