It’s true that God made all of us unique and we all have different abilities. However, swimmers sometimes fall prey to “that’s just the way I swim” syndrome. The 1st type of swimmer I would like to discuss who falls prey to this syndrome is the swimmer who asks the questions: “Why should I use my legs if I’m faster when I just use my arms (pull)???” Let’s shed some light on this commonly asked question:
Many swimmers will self-identify as being a pulling or kicking dominated freestyle swimmer. It is true that swimmers seem to have a natural propensity toward arm or leg strength. However, that doesn’t mean that we should try to pretend that our “weaker” body parts don’t exist. You’re kind of stuck with them…sorry. Many male swimmers complain that their legs sink and are “useless”. Therefore, a popular easy fix used by many swimmers is to develop an obsessive reliance on the use of a pull buoy (flotation device) while swimming. Sorry gentlemen (and some ladies), I’m going to make the painful suggestion that you should focus on fixing the foundational issue instead of using a band aid (AKA – your pull buoy friend) to mask the issue. Swimming is a full body sport. It is essential that you learn to properly integrate your body parts within each stroke in order to achieve your potential in the pool. When executed correctly, kicking should do nothing but fulfill your need for speed. If your kick seems to be slowing you down, here are some common reasons:
* Your legs are sinking in the water which puts your body in the diagonal position and creates unnecessary drag (please refer to the “Body Position” article to learn how to fix this issue).
* Your legs are bending when you kick. Every time your knee bends, your knee caps act like weights that sink your body into an inefficient diagonal position.
* Your legs are too straight and stiff when you kick (Frankenstein legs). I know what you’re thinking: “Wait…I’ll sink if my legs are too bent AND if my legs are too straight? How the heck am I supposed to figure it out?” My suggestion is to try to keep your legs straight but relaxed. When your legs remain relaxed, your knees should remain “soft” which means there will be a slight bend on every kick but nothing too noticeable.
If you have ever thought that you’re faster when swimming with a pull buoy, you are probably creating unnecessary drag due to one of the above 3 reasons. Unless you plan to surgically implant a pull buoy into your legs (I would seriously advice against this course of action, but I guess it’s an option), I would recommend trying to resolve your drag issue so your legs can start contributing to your speed and efficiency in the water instead of detracting. I would like to issue a challenge to all of you pull buoy addicts: just say no to the pull buoy temptation for a while…stay strong…YOU CAN DO IT! :)