University of British Columbia professor and Masters swimmer Dr. Phil Evans has created an environmentally-friendly pull buoy made entirely out of balsa wood. The pull buoy presents a more durable and attractive materials alternative to the traditional pull buoy typically constructed of EVA foam (ethylene-vinyl acetate), a petroleum product which contains formamide. Users of the wood pull buoys feel that the tactile qualities of the wood is an improvement over the traditional foam buoys.
Dr. Evans is the BC Leadership Chair in Advanced Manufacturing Technology in the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia and former director of the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, where he produced the wood pull buoys. In an email to SwimSwam, Dr. Evans said that he has no commercial interest in producing the balsa buoys and has only made a few as gifts for coaches at UBC Masters Swim Club, Savannah King, Rebecca Terejko and Erin Stamp, who have patiently helped him with his swimming. Dr. Evans developed the balsa buoys as a way of bringing attention to the urgent need to start using materials derived from sustainable resources (e.g. plantation grown trees) instead of ones derived from fossil fuels, but he has been delighted by the response to the balsa buoys. Dr. Evans took up swimming 4 years ago and has been using his prototype for 18 months.
More information on the balsa wood pull buoy is available here.
Thank you to University of British Columbia Thunderbirds swimmer Jonathan Brown for contributing the information for this story.