I know what you're thinking....! Catchy though you've got to admit! Stay with me...
Drag is your worst enemy in swimming. Here's how to minimise it to swim faster for less effort....
Low lying sinky legs leads to an inverted body position in the water. This results in high surface area moving forwards, causing high drag, slow swimming speed and hard work! I like to think of it as your swimming tube. Keep your tube small and your legs in the tube to minimise your drag, simples!
Step 1: Push off horizontally
The advantage of getting a good push off the wall is setting up the correct horizontal body position every length. A bad push off is hard to recover from, especially if your leg kick isn't great (typical for triathletes!).
2) Bubbles out the front end - ALL THE TIME!
This is what your bubbles out your mouth should look like:
Many swimmers hold their breath in the water. This leads to your lungs inflating like a balloon, raising your top end and sinking your legs, contributing to very high drag and slowing you down. If you feel like you fight the water, this is most likely the reason why!
Breath holding also leads to storage of carbon dioxide, sending a panic bell off in your brain. Often you’ll interpret this as lack of Oxygen. But if you think about it you’ve just had a breath in about one or two seconds ago and we’re not at the top of Everest; the Oxygen content of your air was perfectly good! Storing CO2 reduces your exercise performance, so let it go!
Try learning how to sink down:
If you don't have a deep end in your pool or you're not very confident in deep water, just try standing face down simply blowing bubbles out your nose and mouth:
Ensure you let go of the air with a relaxed face; let your facial muscles relax. See if you can squeeze your diaphragm and let all of the air go right from the bottom of your lungs. Then when you swim, ensure you're breathing out from the moment you finish breathing in, to the moment you next start breathing in, no breath holding in between. It may not seem natural at first, but crack this and you're swim much more relaxed AND reduce your drag, win win.
3) Kick for lift - and make a few BUBBLES!
Ever wondered why kicking with a kick board is so hard?! Seen as most of your propulsion (>95%) comes from your arms and your legs don't face the right way to push water backwards in freestyle, it's pretty pointless trying to train a propulsive leg kick (so bin the kick board). This applies to triathletes and long distance swimmers even more so for energy economy over longer distances.
You should be aiming to kick for lift, kicking with just enough power that your legs stay up. Some people may need to kick harder than others, it just depends how floaty or sinky your legs are (fat floats, muscle sinks).
Kick UP by squeezing your glute (bum muscle) on that side, to raise the leg UP in the water. Keep toes pointed and ankles relaxed and lightly break the surface of the water. Make a few bubbles and you'll hear a satisfying 'SPLOOSH'. This helps generate a kick that LIFTs your legs rather than exhasuting them.
Here's what a good leg kick looks like:
To incorporate good breathing and kick technique into the full stroke, try my new drill Kick3Kick:
Here's a set to try out next time you're in the pool:
'Bubbles both ends!'
Repeat each drill as many times as you like:
Push and glide (swim back to the wall) - stretch
Push glide and kick (swim back) - toes making sploosh
Kick with fins (skip to next drill if your pool doesn't allow fins)
Kick3Kick without fins
Freestyle without fins - bubbles both ends - exhale AND kick UP
Here's Yingshi before and after imroving her body position and kick technique in her video analysis session with me using my stroke technique correction method above:
Let me know how you get on or email any questions to me on: