Water is almost 800 times denser than air. If your legs are sinking when you swim, you’re making things much harder for yourself.
When we do video analysis for athletes in the Effortless Swimming Membership and at our freestyle clinics, one of the first things we look for is the heels breaking the surface every couple of kicks. This indicates a good body position – horizontal in the water.
So what if you’re a ‘sinker’, what can you do? These are the six main reasons your legs might be sinking in freestyle.
1. Lifting your head to breathe
In swimming it’s all about balance. Your head weighs about 8 kilos and when you lift that above the water, as a result of pure balance, your legs and feet are going to sink.
When you take a breathe, be sure that you are breathing to the side and not lifting your head above the surface. Ideally, you want to have at least part of one goggle in the water.
2. Pressing down on the water during the entry or catch
During the catch phase you should be tipping your finger tips down to press back on the water. If the first part of your catch is pressing down on the water with a dropped elbow, your feet and legs are going to sink.
When you enter and extend forward the next phase of stroke should be tipping the finger tips down to the bottom of the pool. s
3. Holding your breathe when you swim
This can create extra buoyancy in your torso and lungs which can cause your feet and legs to sink down. What’s the first thing they teach babies in swim school? Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles. Exhale when your face is in the water for better body position and relaxed swimming.
4. Poor posture and bad connection through your core
Our mantra when it comes to swim posture is ‘swim tall’. The chest is out, your shoulders are back, drawing your belly button into your spine and squeezing your bum cheeks together.
This will create great connection through your core instead of being like a wet noodle in the middle of your body!
5. Looking forward
If your eyes are looking directly forward, for most people, that will cause your legs and hips to sink down. It all comes down to balance again. Most swimmers are most comfortable looking around 45 degrees or slightly further down. This is different for different swimmers though.
6. Kicking from the knees
Are you kicking like you’re riding a bicycle? Are your toes pointing down to the ground instead of behind you. This is another cause of sinking legs.
In the Effortless Swimming membership we have drills and exercises to correct each of these. Sinking legs are normally caused by a combination of a few of these reasons, there’s no one size fits all solution. We recommend uploading a video of your swimming to our forum in the the membership so one of our coaches can provide you with a personalised stroke correction plan to help you become a better swimmer.