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jackieg
September 14th, 2009, 10:01 PM
Can anyone suggest drills to help me swim as fast without a pull buoy as I do with one?

I work hard at practice 5 days a week and make incremental gains every so often. But my improvement over the past year can't compare to the amount I improve when I grab a pull buoy.

So - I need to be working on my body alignment? Keeping my legs high in the water? Strengthening my abs? I try to work on all of those things but I would really appreciate any drill or workout ideas.

Thanks!

ALM
September 14th, 2009, 10:35 PM
I will be watching the replies with interest. I am also much faster with a pull buoy - about 10 seconds per 100 yards. Swimming takes about 1:50-1:55, while pulling is more like 1:40-1:45.

It drives my coach crazy. He says it's because I don't kick enough when I swim.

letsrace
September 15th, 2009, 08:31 AM
I just posted a response in this thread. You might find my post helpful with this question.

It may not be that you are kicking too little when you swim. Sure you might not be kicking A LOT, but you're not kicking when you are pulling either, right?

So what's the difference? I like to think about this the way doctors think about practicing medicine. To paraphrase, the kick should first, do no harm.

The pull buoy will often help a swimmer move faster through the water because it will lift the legs out of the way, helping to reduce drag. This is the most obvious benefit. The less obvious benefit is that the buoy helps you form a tighter axis in the water, thereby allowing you to rotate more freely.

Try having a friend watch you swim underwater. Have them note how low your legs are in the water when you swim and when you pull. Also have them check to see how far you are splaying your legs when you kick. Often, weak kickers will use a 2 beat kick as counter weights to their arms. When that happens they create more drag, inhibit rotation and give no leverage to the pull.

One of two solutions is likely to help you. Either you will need to work on body balance like what Total Immersion promotes (there are many discussions on here about how to do that) or you will need to work on kicking with a smaller tighter kick which allows you better rotation and reduces drag.

RuffWater
September 15th, 2009, 09:56 AM
I'm with Mike. Agree with what he says.

As for a "drill": When I wear a buoy, I almost always wear a strap around my ankles. The buoy keeps my legs afloat, and the strap keeps me from kicking even a little. This quickly exposes any imbalance issues you have in your stroke - the ones that are counterbalanced with a split of the legs (the kind of split that creates drag and slows you down). For me, it's the best way to keep my stroke in check and in line.

The reactions I get from people who do this "drill" for the first time are remarkable. Most only take a few strokes before they stop and exclaim how "out of control" they feel. Many end up rolling over on their back because they don't have that crazy countering, split leg kick to keep them on their stomachs.

jackieg
September 15th, 2009, 10:44 AM
I definitely use a 2 beat kick when I get into a long set, with the excuse that I mostly compete in open water. I had not made the connection between using the kick to stabilize (which I know I do) and impeding my rotation. I will try swimming with a strap around my feet tonight and report back.

I used to do a drill when I was working on pacing where I counted kicks per stroke, changing the number each 50. I might try that again, to think about isolating my kick from my stroke and cutting back on compensation. Does that seem useful?

Thanks for the suggestions!!

Ripple
September 15th, 2009, 11:33 AM
Try pushing down ever so slightly on your chest. Your lungs are full of air, so that part of your body automatically bobs up to the surface, which pivots your legs downward. You can compensate with the slight pressure on the sternum. (Or, if it's back stroke, on the shoulder blades.)You may have to experiment a bit, by kicking without a board, to find out just how much pressure you need to get horizontal.

ourswimmer
September 15th, 2009, 12:21 PM
Often, weak kickers will use a 2 beat kick as counter weights to their arms. When that happens they create more drag, inhibit rotation and give no leverage to the pull.

Oh, so true. And the cruel irony is that a wide 2-beat kick, maybe with a cute little crossover, can make the swimmer feel as if she is accomplishing a lot of powerful hip rotation even though it is not making her go any faster.


I definitely use a 2 beat kick when I get into a long set, with the excuse that I mostly compete in open water.

I compete most successfully in open water too but I have become even more successful since I put my mind to mastering the six-beat kick and using it as often as I can in workout. (I should do it every single moment but sometimes my mind does wander.) In a straight 5K I am sure I switch to a more relaxed 1/1 or 3/1 pattern in the middle, but it is nice to have that extra gear for starting, passing, and finishing.

__steve__
September 15th, 2009, 12:35 PM
I think the 2-beat kick is for highly skilled swimmers who can actually accomplish it with minimal drag. For endurance it's called "hip driven" swimming I suppose. For me a 2-beat kick means I'll be kicking the person next to me in the face or scraping the wall, even though it's slow I could swim for hours.

jackieg
September 16th, 2009, 11:26 AM
Swam with the buoy and strap last night and found my feet fish-tailing back and forth. It was interesting, and definitely drove home the fact that I use my feet to stabilize. I am going to keep up with that drill and work on stabilizing from my core. I also thought a lot about rotating on an axle (and taking my legs with me) which felt helpful. Thanks for that suggestion!

This thread lead to an actual in person conversation last night after practice, and the main question we all had was this:

Do those of you with strong kicks feel a connection between the timing of your kick and the timing of your stroke, or are they independent?

RuffWater
September 16th, 2009, 11:54 AM
Glad to hear you found the strap helpful (other than a kickboard, it's my one and only training device). Some of that fish-tailing is probably due to hand placement and possible crossover in your stroke. Straighten that out and you'll be golden!

waves101
September 16th, 2009, 12:05 PM
Drill with the pull bouy at the ankles to help strengthen the core.

SolarEnergy
September 16th, 2009, 01:42 PM
First off, if your full stroke is built around 2beat kicking, the odds of getting as fast over longish distances without a pull as you would be with the pull are very low.

If you want to gradually try to get there, my favorite drill for this is band around the ankle. No pull.

Try to learn to swim with a constraint around the ankles, preventing you from using your legs. Often we use a rubber band, hence the name of the drill.

By doing so, you are forcing your body to improve its natural balance. The fun begins when you remove the band a try the 2beat kick again. You'll notice how easy it will feel.

So typical sets of these involve switching with/without the band to see how well you're doing with the two beat.

Also, to avoid one of the most common flaw related to 2beat (wide scissor kick), there's this very simple drill I like so much. You just get into a relaxed full stroke state, almost catch up. Two beat kicking with an emphasis put on making sure your two big toes are always close to each other. You gently touch the right big two with the left foot big toe and make sure the feet stay close, then the left foot big toe touches the right foot big toe etc...

Best if to combine both drills. Like 50min of band around the ankle followed with 100m of smooth 2beat touching toes stuff. That should feels great.

letsrace
September 16th, 2009, 02:56 PM
Do those of you with strong kicks feel a connection between the timing of your kick and the timing of your stroke, or are they independent?

Hmm... I would be interested to hear what others say. For me, the kick is a subconscious thing, so I was tempted to say it is independent, but that is not quite right. I think it is so close to the foundation for my stroke that I don't think about it and often have to actively think to reduce the kick. Given that reasoning, I would argue that it is fundamentally connected with the timing of the stroke.

orca1946
September 16th, 2009, 03:00 PM
Try 4 - 6 kick per cycle.

nkfrench
September 17th, 2009, 03:19 PM
I am a goes-faster-pulling person. With the pull-buoy I don't have to use much energy to maintain body position so it's more energy for getting propulsion. I probably get a little body dolphining with the pull-buoy on to help me finish the arm-pull, which is all that my kick normally accomplishes anyhow. I don't use the ankle strap - my feet would rather just go along for the ride instead of working.

The biggest difference is that I get to wear my great big paddles when I pull. I make a high-elbow, deep catch and they don't seem to bother my shoulder joints (but do tire the muscles). I have a much higher turnover rate with the paddles and pull-buoy than I ever get with a 6-beat or 4-beat kick.

When coming up w/ seed times for my occasional meets, I can typically just use my practice times for intervals done with paddles/pull-buoy.

Ramjet08
September 17th, 2009, 04:39 PM
Where can you get a band for your feet? My Masters Team doesn't use them?

Ken Classen
September 17th, 2009, 05:28 PM
I'm in agreement with what has been said so far i.e. if the kick isn't within the streamline created by the upper body it can be an issue. In addition to this, a pull buoy acts like a wetsuit and or tech-suit etc. It creates an improved body position floating the legs towards the surface allowing the swimmer to feel like there going downhill so to speak (more horizontal to the surface) A drill to try to compensate for lack of a pull buoy is to do kicks and swims trying to engage your core muscles so that it gives you the feeling of trying to pull your belly button up through the small of your back. This help raise your hips which in turn helps the legs follow along closer to the water surface.

SolarEnergy
September 17th, 2009, 09:19 PM
Where can you get a band for your feet? My Masters Team doesn't use them? I don't get to remember how they tailor them. Rubber material, maybe one of those tubes kids like to play with in the pool? The black ones?

Otherwise, anything works I guess. I use whatever straps I may find on the deck usually. Sometimes borrow them from some safety jackets stored in a depot.

RuffWater
September 18th, 2009, 10:02 AM
Where can you get a band for your feet? My Masters Team doesn't use them?

Anything will work. I would avoid the old fashion innertube twisted around your ankles - too much drag and bouyancy. But I have seen plenty of people use an old, deflated bike tire innertube (ask a triathlete for one).

I use the nylon strap found on your backpack. You know - the one that is supposed to go around your waist (who uses that?). Cut it off, and use the handy plastic clasp on it. It's a perfect "belt" for your feet.

jackieg
September 29th, 2009, 09:56 PM
I have been doing the band drill regularly and have been finding it really helpful. Tonight at practice, at the end of a 200 sprint, the coach said "that was really fast." I have never gotten that reaction before :bliss:

Thanks so much for all of your tips!

funkyfish
September 30th, 2009, 08:03 AM
Do those of you with strong kicks feel a connection between the timing of your kick and the timing of your stroke, or are they independent?
I have a somewhat strong kick and when it becomes wholly integrated into my stroke I can definitely feel the connection. It feels like there's less of a load on my arms and shoulders, yet my legs don't feel overworked either. Unfortunately I don't always achieve this while swimming (maybe 40-50% of the time). Also, I swim slower when using a buoy and just pulling.

onefish
September 30th, 2009, 08:16 AM
For me, and it's a repeat of some of the other astute posters above, it's all about head position. If my head is up, as happens in short course crowded 5-second sendoff workouts, my back/butt sags so that when I rotate, there's an automatic fishtail. It's hard to feel, but makes me so "angry" when I can tell, usually happens as I tire out towards the end of a workout. The buoy exaggerates that feeling if you try to keep your legs in alignment, so it makes it easier to feel the corrective action of putting your head down and pushing down a bit with your chest. Personally, spine alignment seems to be the key concept, and kebab seems the appropriate visual metaphor.

Good luck, happy laps.

SwimStud
September 30th, 2009, 09:38 AM
Work on/play around with your hip to chin alignment and swimming downhill. I've tried focusing on raising my butt up to kick. You could just be cursed with muscly and heavy legs which means you're more of a sprinter type than a distance type.
Float with no kick:
if you float like this __ you're a distance swimmer
if you float like this \ you're a drop dead sprinter
if you're somewhere between __ and \ you're mid distance.

if you float like this ~ you're a butterfly expert
if you float like this V you're future is in synchro swimming
if you float like this & you're a noodler so move over to the open swim area

the last 3 are jokes but the first three came from a coach...doesn't mean you cannot overcome them.. but it takes work.

nandestafney
September 30th, 2009, 09:47 AM
I don't get this at all. I'm a bouy hater. I pretty much just flop from one side to the other like a fish out of water with the bouy. I'm a very small older woman and I can't sink a bouy or a kick board into the water even if I use the childrens' size. Suggestions?

ourswimmer
September 30th, 2009, 01:13 PM
Do those of you with strong kicks feel a connection between the timing of your kick and the timing of your stroke, or are they independent?

Arms and legs are coordinated. When I first started to work seriously on a six-beat kick, though, I felt as if my legs were just flailing around. To feel as if I had the right arm/leg timing, I had to go pretty slowly and think. My snorkel helped. Eventually after months of just making myself do it I started to feel more organized.

funkyfish
September 30th, 2009, 02:33 PM
if you float like this \ you're a drop dead sprinter

Guilty! It's kinda funny because my wife teaches swim lessons for kids & adults…she knows not to use me as an example of "how to float". Every time I try to float on my back I sink completely, starting with my legs.
:banana:

SolarEnergy
September 30th, 2009, 07:07 PM
Do those of you with strong kicks feel a connection between the timing of your kick and the timing of your stroke, or are they independent? The less you kick hard (e.g. 2beat kick) the more important this connection becomes. IOW, when you kick as little as possible, these kicks (2 per cycle) must fall at the right time (timing wise).

I have a strong kick, but I do not use it in a distance swimming scenario. Although this connection is important even for sprinting, I find it is even more crucial for 2beat kick free style.

Rob Nasser
September 30th, 2009, 07:46 PM
Where can you get a band for your feet? My Masters Team doesn't use them?

Ram -

Of all of the odd things you can use, try a vacuum belt. They make them in varying sizes and they give just enough to get them around the feet/ankles. I get them for the kids I coach. They hate me for it, becaues they work, but it's because they hate me that I know it's doing the right thing - preventing much of any movement at the feet. They are usually only a couple of bucks and very little drag at all. Life is hard enough without adding more drag... I usually go to a vacuum shop, but I think they may even be at a grocery store or Target/Wal-Mart.

Rob Nasser
September 30th, 2009, 07:54 PM
There's one thing that I don't think has been mentioned.. Why do you do a split kick?? My guess is because you're off balance somewhere in your stroke and you are naturally trying to counter-balance for it with that kick. Do you cross over the midline of your body at some point of the pull? Do you pull wide somewhere?? Action-Reaction.

Some of the suggestions here are valid. Kick smaller and more consistently, better body balance starting with your head and working your way down. Press your body against a wall and get your entire spine to make contact with the wall. Not easy - is it? What muscles are you using to do it? Abs? Lower Back? Probably both. Good swimming posture requires both.. Engage those exact same muscles, now in the water and think about swimming taller and not looking to low or high. You should be able to kick with the tip of the heels at the surface - 2, 4 or 6 beat kick. If the kick is small/tight enough, you can't get too low if your heels are that high. Food for thought..

__steve__
September 30th, 2009, 09:01 PM
I float more like this /

-&- is very funny, striking resemblence to what I saw this morning.


Do you cross over the midline of your body at some point of the pull?

The day someone told me my hands crossed at the front was the day that I started to improve (3 weeks ago:)). I've always had crazy legs, but when I first corrected the crossover, I was then able to effectively press the "T" popping the feet up by pushing armpit/chest, and use a 2 kick properly. Result, 40 seconds faster 500M than one month ago, this is with just a moderate effort! Even though it's still slow by intermediate standards (8:50), I'm finally improving. My 50M also dropped 2 seconds to 0:34.

I never tried a bouy yet.


Breathing will be the next thing for me to fix, I drift at times.

slowfish
October 3rd, 2009, 04:44 PM
very interesting thread..so much so that i got a tire tube and wrapped it around my ankles today while pulling. while there was no dramatic "ah ha" moment, when i took off the band and just swam, i was much straighter. i plan to add this to my toy pile from now on.

i had a completely different experiece when i decided to take off the pull buoy and swim with just the band. this proved to be fairly impossible. my legs went straight to the bottom. i couldn't keep my feet up for anything. is this something i *should* be able to do and there is something about my stroke that is limiting my ability to do this? Or, are the physics of such a stunt just impossible?

jackieg
October 11th, 2009, 02:24 PM
I found swimming with just the band very difficult at first, but with practice and a focus on using my abs to keep my legs high and balancing by pressing my chest down, it has gotten much easier (and has really helped my swimming beyond the drill). Another thing I found helpful when I first started the drill was rotating my whole body when my legs started to sink, so that I could translate that downward motion of the legs more into rotational momentum. That's not a very good description, but that's the way I thought about it while I was swimming and it helped.

Swimming with the band might come really easily to people who have swum their whole lives and feel completely impossible to people who haven't. I have found that to be true of a lot of drills and advice from veteran swimmers. The nice thing is that as I work at swimming and develop the muscle memory and little stabilizing muscles that lifelong swimmers have, advice that made no sense for a long time can become clear all of a sudden.

Sharpsburger
October 11th, 2009, 03:22 PM
Do those of you with strong kicks feel a connection between the timing of your kick and the timing of your stroke, or are they independent?

Either/or. I 6-kick as a habit, although I can bump it up when I have to. When I'm swimming my best, everything's coordinated. When I'm fatigued, I notice my kick pace can become disconnected from my stroke pace.

My advantage in the kick is that I have a long torso and short legs, so I can expend less energy for a faster kick.

SolarEnergy
October 11th, 2009, 07:55 PM
I found swimming with just the band very difficult at first, but with practice and a focus on using my abs to keep my legs high and balancing by pressing my chest down, it has gotten much easier (and has really helped my swimming beyond the drill). Another thing I found helpful when I first started the drill was rotating my whole body when my legs started to sink, so that I could translate that downward motion of the legs more into rotational momentum. That's not a very good description, but that's the way I thought about it while I was swimming and it helped.
This is a great description I find, absolutely.

The purpose of this drill is to get you to find YOUR own way to improve body balance. You know, with several drill come several side effects. So called Catch Up may favor dropped elbow bug.

With the band around, there's not any side effect that I can think of. Translating leg sinking momentum into rotational momentum is great (it just can't be bad).

However, like you smartly pointed out, the real benefit becomes apparent when you remove the band and experiment a smoother than usual full stroke.

Congrats!

ande
October 11th, 2009, 09:45 PM
here's a T I BEFORE & AFTER Video
YouTube - TI Freestyle Before and After


Can anyone suggest drills to help me swim as fast without a pull buoy as I do with one?

I work hard at practice 5 days a week and make incremental gains every so often. But my improvement over the past year can't compare to the amount I improve when I grab a pull buoy.

So - I need to be working on my body alignment? Keeping my legs high in the water? Strengthening my abs? I try to work on all of those things but I would really appreciate any drill or workout ideas.

Thanks!

mattson
October 12th, 2009, 02:22 PM
here's a T I BEFORE & AFTER Video


Ande, thanks for pointing out the videp. I was thinking that his "before" swim looked pretty good. Until I saw the "after". Now I'm going to have to think about what I'm doing, and where I'm wasting energy with "slop".

ande
October 12th, 2009, 02:32 PM
in the "AFTER" he's moving with much less effort & much more ease,
which allows him to hold a better pace over longer swims,
his legs are still most of the time and
he's doing a quick flick kick to get a little propulsion & maintain body position.

figgskzoo
February 5th, 2010, 12:06 PM
I'm faster with the buoy - and *totally* eff'n frustrated by it. As far as that TI before & after video - I'm totally the 'before' swimmer which sucks. I guess I need to get the TI book and learn and do what it says - I sooooh want that style. Help! Thanks!

Lump
February 5th, 2010, 01:15 PM
I'm faster with the buoy - and *totally* eff'n frustrated by it. As far as that TI before & after video - I'm totally the 'before' swimmer which sucks. I guess I need to get the TI book and learn and do what it says - I sooooh want that style. Help! Thanks!

I've always been faster with a buoy & paddles. Its all about that extra floatation you get with the buy to lift your hips and butt....you are expending any energy to keep them up. As far as the stoke, pull "can" make you swim a little too "flat" rather than really working on the extension of your hands/arms and rotation of the hips.

As far as the kick, being a distance swimmer I've always swam little the "after" swimmers with the little flick kick. Having just started back 18 months ago after 15 years off its starting to come back to me.

__steve__
February 5th, 2010, 02:00 PM
I wonder if the problem IS the bouy itself, by becomming dependant on aft quadrant floatation.

I tried a bouy once for the hell of it, and sure enough, swimming was effortless. I immediately stopped, thinking this can't be productive.

I'm sure it may be beneficial with certain drills for concentration in other areas though, but I'm staying away from pull bouys.

shane
February 5th, 2010, 06:12 PM
hey Steve, don't give up on the pull bouy yet, they can be pretty useful.
there are probably a lot more good reasons but here are a few.

you will learn how it feels to swim with proper body position. then you can use different head position or other technique change to get that feeling back when swimming full stroke.

after a tough set, pulling is one way to keep the aerobic work going without your stroke falling apart from fatigue.

using a bouy even without paddles overloads the arms.

breaks up monotony of swimming thousands of yds freestyle.

forces a faster turnover.

stillwater
February 6th, 2010, 03:34 PM
The main reason why I use a pull bouy is that it forces a tempo change.

I feel that one should adjust their stroke draw and turnover rate according to the distance of the race and exhaustion factor.

Pull bouys make me change my stroke.

Flurpo
September 28th, 2017, 04:11 PM
I'm with Mike. Agree with what he says.

As for a "drill": When I wear a buoy, I almost always wear a strap around my ankles. The buoy keeps my legs afloat, and the strap keeps me from kicking even a little. This quickly exposes any imbalance issues you have in your stroke - the ones that are counterbalanced with a split of the legs (the kind of split that creates drag and slows you down). For me, it's the best way to keep my stroke in check and in line.

The reactions I get from people who do this "drill" for the first time are remarkable. Most only take a few strokes before they stop and exclaim how "out of control" they feel. Many end up rolling over on their back because they don't have that crazy countering, split leg kick to keep them on their stomachs.

I like to use a dolphin kick to balance my stroke. I'm afraid of getting an addiction to the buoy, as some put it. I'm also very aware of the leg spreading technique associated with maintaining balance. Using a dolphin kick in warm up help me to stay aware of imbalances caused by my legs....

orca1946
October 2nd, 2017, 10:41 AM
Think of a log when swimming. a straight position with out any "hanging" branches [legs] and that seems to help me keep a better position.