When swimming we can often expend a lot of unnecessary energy maintaining body position. In a short swim event such as 50 or 100M our kick will contribute a maximum of 15-20% of your total propulsion. Over our longer open water swims the investment in oxygen we need to provide to our legs is far in excess of the return we get in propulsion. Therefore we employ minimal kick , using kick primarily to assist in maintaining body position.
Body position is of fundamental importance to go through the water efficiently. The ideal body position is a flat position relative to the surface of the water. This doesn’t mean you are straight as a ruler; our spine contains natural curves which should be maintained when swimming. In general, if water is flowing over the top of your head your head position is too low. If your head position is too high your centre of gravity will move further down the body creating downward force on your hips and legs. The end result is wasted energy as we work harder to maintain body position.
A good drill to help you establish a good head position is to place one hand on the other, raising your arms straight over your head in the streamline position. Push off the bottom, do not kick. You are literally trying to float. Adjust your head position so that your body ‘floats’ on the surface as long as possible. Your eyes should be looking at a spot either directly below you, or ever so slightly ahead of you. Repeat this a number of times trying to find the head position that allows you to float on the surface of the water the longest.
We are all physiologically different therefore our most ideal position will be slightly different. By taking the time to get your body position correct you are laying a good foundation for the rest of your swimming technique and fitness training and will be setting yourself up for a good start to the open water swimming season. Happy swimming, Dan Abel - FitandAbel.com