February 28, 2006

The Traitor Within

I have been trying to keep my two blogs' content separate, but my triathlon training has gotten weird on me and I need some help. I was at the pool today with my new waterproof watch to time laps as I tried different stroke techniques.

- If I only kick, it takes me 40 seconds to get across the pool.
- If I only use my arms, it takes 22-23 seconds.
- If I kick and use my arms, it takes 27-28 seconds. What??

It turns out I am a faster swimmer if I don't kick at all. All this time I have been trying to increase my speed by pulling harder with my arms and kicking bigger and faster but this technique has just been slowing me down and wearing me out. Are there any swimmers out there who could posssibly explain what's going on? How could added propulsion make me slower? Don't professional swimmers kick?

I have never had personal swim coaching so maybe my kicking technique is just horrendous. I feel so betrayed. I'm been busting my rear for the past 6 weeks trying to improve my speed and now find that I've been doing it all wrong. I have always hated my legs anyway because of their pillowly mushyness. Now on top of that I find that under their doughy exteriour lie treacherous sabatours willing me to fail. I'm right to hate them. I want to cut the two offending limbs off with an old butterknife. If I'm just going to lifelessly drag them in the water after me during the triathlon it seems to be the right thing to do. Just when I thought I knew what was going on a couple of my limbs staged a revolt and humiliated me.

I'm going to talk to the swim coach at the Y and see if she can give me a lesson just to tell me what the heck is going on. The triathlon is on March 29th so hopefully that's enough time for me to fix this problem. These are the same trecherous legs that are supposedly going to get me thorugh the biking and running segments as well. Scary thought. Anyone have any tidbits about kicking technique for swimmers? I am dying to know. I'm off to hunt for butterknives.


Doug Taylor said...

I can't claim to be an expert swimmer, but many moons ago when I was on a swim team I was taught that when you kick keep your legs straight, kick hard, and try to have just your heels come out of the water.

Of course, that might explain why I'm not on a swim team anymore.

Jared said...

One thing that I have done is to have someone videotape me swimming. It really helps to see exactly what you are doing wrong, but kicking should definitely increase speed. Are you thinking so much about using the legs that you aren't pulling as hard with your arms? Good luck

Adrienne said...

I'm not an expert either, but it may be that your hip rotation is not quite right. I was told by a swim coach once that when doing your basic freestyle, your hips should actually rotate out of the water to reduce drag and increase the power coming from your kick as well as your arm stroke by engaging your back muscles. There are actually little belts with fins on them (swimoutlet sells them here: http://www.swimoutlet.com/Hip_Rotators_s/394.htm) that allow you to self correct your body roll.

Also, my triathlete friends say that
http://www.trisportepping.co.uk has good advice on form.

Sarah said...

Wow! Great tips, guys. I'll test them out next time I do my swim practice at the gym. I'm going to try practicing in the ocean (tri will be in ocean) for the first time on Saturday and probably won't be able to time distances but will report on the tri blog how it went. Thank you so much!

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