A swimming kickboard is a device used most often by people learning to swim. It is a buoyant foam board that a person can grasp while in the water, and it allows the new swimmer to concentrate on his or her kick stroke rather than on the entire body movement. A swimming kickboard sometimes features handles or slots for gripping, and the thickness of the board can vary. They are usually quite thin and lightweight, though larger kickboards intended for use by adults or larger children may be both thicker and longer than other types of boards.
The most common place to see a swimming kickboard is during a swimming class for children. This device is used to help children understand buoyancy, and it is also used to help them develop a strong kicking stroke. As the child becomes a stronger swimmer, he or she will leave the swimming kickboard behind and learn to use his or her arms during the swimming stroke. Weaker swimmers may continue to use the kickboard both as a safety device and as a learning tool. The front edge of the kickboard is usually peaked or rounded for less drag through the water, and the back end is curved inward to account for a person's torso being pressed against it. This makes the kickboard easier to handle in various situations.
Closed cell foam is often used to construct a swimming kickboard, though others may be made from lightweight hollow plastics. These materials tend to be inexpensive, lightweight, and durable enough for regular use in a pool or other body of water. These materials are also quick drying and resistant to water damage such as rot, cracking, or mold build-up. The swimming kickboard made from foam is likely to be bendable to accommodate different body shapes as well as the force of swimming through the water.
Experienced swimmers may use a swimming kickboard to improve their technique, especially when learning a new stroke. The kickboards that an adult will use are generally larger than the ones that children will use, though the smaller kickboards may be useful as well. The general purpose of a kickboard is to keep the head above water and allow the swimmer to focus on a certain part of a swimming stroke. The board can also be used to develop strength in certain parts of the body by isolating individual elements of a swimmer's stroke.