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Thread: So much faster with a pull buoy

  1. #1
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    So much faster with a pull buoy

    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!

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    Very Active Member ALM's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

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    Very Active Member letsrace's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    I just posted a response in this [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=15108"]thread[/ame]. 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.

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    Very Active Member RuffWater's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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!!

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

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    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Quote Originally Posted by letsrace View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by jackieg View Post
    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.

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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?

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    Very Active Member RuffWater's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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!

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Drill with the pull bouy at the ankles to help strengthen the core.

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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

  13. #13
    Very Active Member letsrace's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Quote Originally Posted by jackieg View Post
    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.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Try 4 - 6 kick per cycle.

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    Very Active Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Where can you get a band for your feet? My Masters Team doesn't use them?

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    Very Active Member Ken Classen's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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.

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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramjet08 View Post
    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.

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    Very Active Member RuffWater's Avatar
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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramjet08 View Post
    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.

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    Re: So much faster with a pull buoy

    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

    Thanks so much for all of your tips!

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