View Full Version : How to lift the legs?

March 24th, 2018, 09:24 PM
I'm a relative newbie, 70 yrs old. Lifelong runner, but arthritis put a stop to that. Now trying to improve swim technique. I have a waterproof camera so I had someone else shoot me for a lap so I could see what I was doing wrong. I have no kick, which I've mentioned before, but worse than that, the legs sink 1-2 feet below the surface. I look like a dying walrus. What I want to do, whether the kick provides any propulsion or not, is raise my legs toward the surface to get more streamlined. What needs to be done???

March 25th, 2018, 09:00 AM
I would guess your head position is probably too high and upright. You need to be looking straight down to even slightly rearward. I would go so far as to say that if you can have your head such that some water goes over it, it would be even better. When you breathe, you want to be looking slightly behind you, so say at your 4:00 on the right and 8:00 on your left, and be looking where your elbow comes out of the water. Most people I see just lap swimming looking anywhere between slightly ahead, and way ahead.

I've seen littler kids taught how to do this by placing a tennis ball under their chin and making them hold it there. Obviously it is hard to do that for any period of time as you need to breathe. Someone makes a foam ball for that purpose, I think either TYR or Dolphin, can't recall which, and I can't find the darn thing. At any rate, perhaps using one wiht a snorkel may help you keep your head down. I actually use a snorkel with a kickboard to help make sure my hips are high during the set.

March 25th, 2018, 10:08 AM
Right you are, thanks. 11506

March 25th, 2018, 10:21 AM

There are a couple of things that I compare a swimmer's body to - an iceberg or a see-saw - depending on the technical point I am trying to make with a swimmer.

67King hit the iceberg example. In the same way that most of an iceberg's mass is below the surface so it supports that little bit above, the higher your head is out of the water, the deeper the rest of your body will be to support it. So, as 67King suggested, looking down will help.

The see-saw comparison involves body balance. Your torso/lung region is the "fulcrum" of your body. The more time you can have one of your arms in front of your head, the easier it will be for your legs to be closer to the surface. This will only work if you keep your body fairly rigid from head to toe.

The best exercise to feel the "tension" that is necessary to swim well is as follows: Lie on the floor face down in a streamline position. Your forehead/nose or nose/chin should be in contact with the floor. Your arms & legs are in a "relaxed" streamline position on the floor. Next, keeping your arms straight, list them off the floor a couple of inches. Feel the contraction through your shoulders/back? Do the same thing with your legs - lift them until your knees are an inch off the ground. Feel the contraction of your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings?

Now your body is like a see-saw. Remember what happened on the playground when the kids were not the same weight and they would sit on the see-saw - one side dropped. Same concept in swimming. The more time your arm(s) are in front of your body, the more balanced you are and the higher your legs will be in the water - provided you maintain the tension in your body. If you do not maintain that tension, your legs will sink.

This is why there is so much discussion about distance per stroke (DPS). The longer your stroke, the more time you are spending in this streamline (or semi-streamline) position which means the more time your legs are higher in the water which means less drag.

You can also practice this in the pool to find the right amount of tension to keep your feet at the surface - practice face down streamline floating. Synchro swimmers are very good at this. If you have trouble finding someone to help you, I can give you a contact in your area.

Sorry for the lengthy post - good luck.


March 26th, 2018, 12:38 PM
Another way to think about the advice above (fantastic, BTW), is to press down with your chest, which should also help push your legs higher in the water.

March 27th, 2018, 04:34 PM
OK, so I slowed down and concentrated more on head and body position today, thinking about both analogies, iceberg and seesaw. I could feel the legs rising up. The kick is still very weak, but I'll focus on this in the next few weeks. Thanks crew.

March 27th, 2018, 05:03 PM
Sumo, post a video if you can get somebody to shoot one for you. It helps to see what you are doing to provide even more effective feedback.

Good luck!

March 28th, 2018, 11:02 AM
I second Elaine's suggestion - if you could post a video that would be very helpful, as it is difficult to determine the exact issue without seeing you swim.

Head position may certainly be a factor in sinking legs, but simply bearing your head and chest towards the bottom is not the only key to helping you with body position and balance in the water (and having a head position that is too law also creates a lot of drag).

Have you noticed your hips sinking when you kick on your back or on your side or is it just when you are swimming fullstroke?

Some common reasons for sinking legs include kicking from the knees as opposed to from the hips, lack of swimming-specific core strength that would otherwise allow you to maintain a stable body position in the water, and finally, pushing down with a straight arm during the initial phase of the pull instead of getting a good catch to support and propel yourself forward.

Good luck and hope you can post a video for the forumites to see and help you with!

March 28th, 2018, 02:10 PM
I second Elaine's suggestion - if you could post a video that would be very helpful, as it is difficult to determine the exact issue without seeing you swim.

Good luck and hope you can post a video for the forumites to see and help you with!

Perhaps after I get a few weeks of practice making some adjustments I'll get another vid. I also had the right hand coming in toward the chest during the pull, that I'm in the process of fixing. I'm something of a newbie, but have improved a lot in the last year or so. I do have issues with spinal arthritis that may effect the arch of the back & hip rotation. I've mentioned before the difficulties I have with kicking. My ankle will NOT flex.

March 28th, 2018, 03:22 PM
It's great to hear that you are making the most of your swimming despite some limitations! Perfect swimming isn't necessary in order to swim - you just have to do your best to make your swim as efficient as you can. Keep practicing your kick because consistent practice is the only way to develop a good kick. You can try kicking for a short period of time on one side of the body and then switch to fullstroke, and keep alternating between the two. Hopefully that will be easier to keep your legs up and after a period of time your kick will become stronger. Good luck and hope to see your video in the future!