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