One of the biggest causes of drag and swimming inefficiency is sinking legs. This syndrome is pretty easy to spot. A swimmer’s lower body seems to bend at the waist so that their toes seem to scrape the bottom of the pool. If the ideal swim position is 180 degrees (a flat line) then those whose legs sink are more like 190-200 degrees in the water.
There are many causes of sinking legs in swimming. The most frequent that I see is when swimmers raise their whole upper body to breathe instead of rotating to the side to breath. By moving the shoulders up to take a breath, the lower body automatically sinks.
Obviously, the way to correct it is to focus on lowering your upper body, finding your balance point, and working on hip rotation for breathing. Easier said than done though. Here are some ways to help you get aligned:
- Flip over: By swimming backstroke, you become more conscious of your lower body in the water. Including some backstroke on your cooldown and warm-up can help you bring your lower body up out of the water while lowering your upper body so that you get the feeling of becoming more aligned.
- Ditch the pull buoy: Pull buoys have their place in a swimmer’s pool bag but correcting sinking legs is not one of them. If you use a pull buoy to help your swim form, you are cheating yourself from learning proper posture. Ditch it till you master proper position.
- Play dead: A drill called the dead man’s float where you lie on your stomach and try to stay level can make your proper form come alive. Without kicking, you become instantly aware of when your legs begin to sink, so your body automatically tries to correct itself to stay afloat. Moreover, you have to rotate to breath instead of jerking up. Just make sure you alert the lifeguards of what you are doing.
Coach Chris and Kev