Sink­ing legs that slow your swim speed can be frus­trat­ing. Here, we show you how to avoid it

Triathlon Plus - - Contents -

Cor­rect body po­si­tion­ing in the wa­ter is of­ten all you need for great re­sults.

Many begin­ners to high-level triath­letes strug­gle with sink­ing legs when swim­ming. It’s more com­mon in men than in women, due to the greater pro­por­tion of lean mus­cles mass to fat, how­ever, women can face the same dif­fi­cul­ties.

When your legs sink in the wa­ter, the re­sult is your body po­si­tion be­comes less stream­lined, be­cause you’re ef­fec­tively drag­ging your legs through the wa­ter, which de­creases your swim speed. The knock-on ef­fect of this is in­creased fa­tigue go­ing into the bike, or to­tal ex­haus­tion come the run, be­cause of the ex­tra ef­fort it takes to get through the swim.

Two main causes 1. In­cor­rect kick­ing tech­nique

Of­ten, ath­letes with­out a swim­ming back­ground have never needed to ex­tend their feet like you should with front crawl kick. Ex­tended feet with pointed toes and flex­i­ble an­kles al­lows you to flick wa­ter off the end, much like a dol­phin would. How­ever, feet flexed the other way not only sink legs, but ul­ti­mately trans­fers en­ergy down­wards and to­wards your head, slow­ing you down.

2. In­cor­rect up­per body po­si­tion

A high head po­si­tion will lower your leg po­si­tion. A good ex­am­ple of this phe­nom­e­non is a see­saw; if one side is lifted, the other side drops. Con­se­quently, a high head po­si­tion can force the legs too far un­der the wa­ter, re­gard­less of how pro­fi­cient the kick ac­tion is.

With this in mind, here are some tips for cor­rect­ing your sink­ing legs:

• Stretch your feet off

You don’t need to be in the wa­ter. Kneel on your knees with your shins against the ground, then stretch your feet so your toes are point­ing be­hind you. Grad­u­ally aim to get the top of the feet flat against the floor.

• Prac­tise, prac­tise, prac­tise

There’s no sub­sti­tute for prac­tice, so grab a kick board and do some widths or lengths of kick only. Keep your legs straight with a con­trolled flex at the knee and your toes pointy. Work on en­gag­ing your core, kick­ing from the hip and trans­fer­ring that en­ergy down your legs to flick the wa­ter off the end of your toes.

• Try stream­line rolls

With one hand on the other and arms ex­tended in a stream­lined po­si­tion, kick on your front. When you need to breath, do a con­trolled turn onto your back. Make sure you re­main stream­lined the whole time – the whole body rolls as one. Use fins to take ad­van­tage of the ex­tra lever­age they give, then progress to do­ing it with­out fins and rolling ei­ther way to breath bi­lat­er­ally.

• Try a lower head po­si­tion

If you’ve nar­rowed down the cause to your up­per body po­si­tion, do a few easy lengths of full stroke, fo­cus­ing on your heels just break­ing the sur­face of the wa­ter with ev­ery kick.

Do 4x 25m 1. Head out of the wa­ter 2. Nor­mal po­si­tion for you 3. Head tilted slightly lower 4. Head buried down so your chin is al­most on your chest

Try to feel which po­si­tion com­ple­ments the legs best; is it some­thing in be­tween?

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