Legs Sinking Whilst Swimming
– Right, I’ve got a question for you. When you’re swimming and you look down, can you see your toes almost dragging along the bottom of the pool? – Okay I’m going to put money on this one. I think that the most common problem for newbie swimmers is getting their legs to float on the surface.
Now I know there are lots of other problems to overcome when you’re learning to swim. But if you are a cyclist or a runner who’s new into the sport then I can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to struggle to get your legs to stay on the surface.
– Yeah, but on the plus side once you’ve solved this issue your swimming is suddenly going to become a heck of a lot easier and far more enjoyable. So today we’re going to be sharing with you a few tips and pointers to get your feet away from the bottom of the pool and more in line with the rest of your body on the surface.
(fast-paced music) – Triathletes tend to be more susceptible to sink legs than others. Running and in particular cycling promote more muscle mass in the lower body compared to the upper. And then combine this with the fact that triathletes, on the whole, have a lower body fat percentage than the general population.
And I’m afraid this problem does seem to be worse for men compared to us women. As apparently we’re quite good at floating. – Well those are the aspects that we can’t really control but there are a number of other things that we can perhaps see, our head position, our catch, our rotation, and even an inefficient kick can all be rectified.
Let’s start at the other end with your head. Now put your body like a seesaw. So if one end goes up, the other end must go down. And if your head is too high, then automatically your hips and legs are going to sink, making it much harder to keep your body in a horizontal position and your legs close to the surface.
Then if you flip that around and have your head too far down or buried into the water, you could actually run the risk of your hips and bottom being too high in the water to be efficient. As well as obviously creating too much drag at the front of your stroke.
Play around with positioning your head lower in the water and feel the effect on your hips and legs. Aim to look one to two meters ahead of you or at a roughly 45-degree angle. And think of the waterline as coming just above your hairline as a guide.
– Now this one is closely related to head position because we do have a poor or limited rotation with our stroke. What we might find happening is that we feel the need to lift our heads up a little bit higher out of the water to clear the water to take a breath.
So this in turn is going to end up with our legs sinking down in the water every time we want to take a breath. So if we can improve our rotation, it’s going to help to make us stroke a little bit smoother and help to get our body in a slightly more neutral position in the water.
So the six-kick one pull drill can really help with this rotation. Start with one arm extended and one arm by your side. Turn your body to face the wall or lane rope with the extended arm being underneath and the resting arm facing the ceiling.
Take six kicks in this position and then pull with the extended arm whilst taking the other to the front and rotate onto the other side. Repeat this down the rest of the lane. Now in triathlon obviously, we don’t want to tire our legs too much given that we do have a cycle and run to come.
So we really wouldn’t recommend you kicking as hard as you can for the full duration of your swim. That said, it does really help to balance our stroke and also aid in that propulsion to a certain degree.
– Yeah, and the propulsion phase from the kick comes mainly from that downward pressure of your lower leg and your foot. And this counteracts and helps naturally lift your hips and make it easier to keep your legs close to the surface.
If you’re swimming with no kick, however, then it’s going to be pretty much impossible to get your legs into that horizontal position. So you need to experiment and find the two or four-beat kick that’s going to give you maximum return for minimum effort.
– Yeah, and doing some kick with fins can really help to relax our ankles which can often be a big issue with people out there and actually is a real key element to an efficient kick. So with your kick, you really want to make sure that it’s quite a small movement.
It’s a subtle bend from the knee and we’re getting a lot of that power from our hips and our thighs. And try and think that almost like our feet are acting like flippers. (upbeat bouncy music) – The front of your stroke will also have an impact on the other end, your legs.
Now the catch is obviously the first part of the stroke and it’s vital for getting hold of the water. And your hand is placing a downwards and a backward pressure during that movement. And it’s that downward pressure that actually is going to naturally help to lift your body and give you a much better chance of preventing your hips and legs from sinking.
Including some sculling drills into your training can help with this phase of your stroke. For this one place a pull buoy between your legs to help with the buoyancy. And it also allows you to focus purely on your arms and hands.
Now with your arms extended in front of your face, a very slight bend in the elbow, and slight flex of the wrist, fingers together, you want to practice moving your hands from side to side like this. A useful way to explain this is to imagine a pile of sand in front of you and you’re making two mounds by sweeping over the top.
It should move you forwards as you’re applying downward and backward pressure to the water, But it will be slow. This is an instant yet, admittedly only a temporary solution to sinking legs, but popping on a wetsuit can make all the difference.
Neoprene is less dense than water so it’s naturally going to help you float. And you can even get wetsuits with thicker panels around the hips and the legs which are really going to aid that better body position.
– Which is all well and good for a cold water swim but if we end up training or racing in a pool or even in warmer outdoor water and it ends up being a nonwetsuit legal swim, then we could find ourselves in trouble.
Because if we become too reliant on this added buoyancy from a wetsuit, then it could even end up exasperating these issues of sinking legs. (instrumental music) Now again this is another temporary training aid that can only be used in training, not in racing.
But it does tend to be many triathletes’ best friend. Phrases included. And when we place this between our legs it automatically lifts our hips with no effort from ourselves. – Yeah, it can be a great benefit for training as it automatically puts the user in that better position as you said.
And also allows them to focus purely on the arm stroke. But it is still important to remember that you need to include a certain amount of swimming unaided as well. (instrumental music) There is no magic answer but a lot of small factors that if corrected will make a significant difference to your overall body position And reducing those sinking legs or just change your stroke dramatically.
So it really is worth putting that effort in now. – Yeah, absolutely. Now if you have enjoyed today’s video, please do hit that thumbs up button. And if you would like to see more videos from GTN you click on the globe, subscribe to the channel, and hit that little bell icon down there and you’d be notified when all our new videos come out.
And if you’d like to see some top tips from super swimmer Lucy Charles you can see that by clicking just down here. – And if you want some tips to overcome your open water swimming fear, there’s a video that can help you just here.