In my next life, I want to be a mermaid, and no Prince Charming – however big his pecs – will ever make me trade my tail for anything else in the world! My legs are my tail in this life, and I’ve come to love them!
Once upon a time I was one of those newcomers blindly relying on the buoyancy of my wetsuit. I’d let the neoprene do the job in the open water. After all, it makes it so much easier to swim, so why bother working on my legs? God must have created the pull-buoy for a reason!
Well, I now know better. It’s nothing but counterproductive bullshit. Neglecting your kicking is as brain-dead as saying you don’t need your arms when you run. Try and tie up your arms alongside your body before your next run and tell me how it goes. Make sure you have a good front teeth and nose insurance though before you try this experiment…
Our body is one full unit, firmly attached together, and what happens (or doesn’t happen) in one end does have an effect on the other end. It’s all about improving efficiency and making all the bits of the chain work together. That’s what my trainer Susanne has taught me from the very first day we met. And today I’m so grateful she’s been hammering it into me, especially now that I’ve gone “speedos only” in the ocean.
Learning to kick properly has helped me maintain my balance and an effective body position in the water, streamlined with my legs lifted up. Doing so reduces the treacherous drag produced by my legs lagging behind and it helps stabilize and drive my rotation thanks to well-targeted power and regular timing. The bottom line is I can now use my legs to support my stroke effectively and adapt my swimming to the prevailing conditions (currents, wind, etc.). At the end of the day it minimizes my energy use and makes me swim stronger with less effort.
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