One of my favorite shows is Myth Busters.
And one of my favorite topics to blog about it swimming.
So let’s combine the two, shall we? Today, we are going to bust two myths about swimming faster. And then we are going to report two truths about swimming faster.
Ready, set, go:
Yes, muscle weighs more than fat. I can see why people might think that having a certain percentage of body fat might make you more buoyant, possibly.
Or that if a person is thinner, they may not sink quite as fast because they don’t weigh as much. Or that it might take less effort to keep a thin person afloat. Apparently sports scientists used to think this too. But they don’t anymore.
In the past, athletes used to fret over skin folds and meeting a certain body fat percentage. But now, it’s all about YOIPS- Your Optimal Individual Performance State.
It may be true that the pulling of the arms accounts for most of the propulsion in swimming. However, that does not mean that the legs don’t matter. The kick still contributes a lot.
There is a lot of credible research out there that dispels this myth. In an article written by a respected swimming coach, it’s mentioned,
“Although many open-water swimmers and multisport athletes choose to limit the use of legs, it’s about energy conservation, not ability for the legs to help propel.”
This guy has been coaching for over fifteen years. And he swears that all of his fastest swimmers have had one thing in common: they were also his fastest kickers. So, work on improving that kick. Every little competitive trick makes a difference when you want to shave off seconds.
Which leads me to the first fact…
It’s not all about kicking quickly. Having an efficient kick is just as important for fast swimming. Also, having a compact kick is really important.
The terms “quick” and “efficient” and “compact” might all seem like the same concept but they all add something unique. I’ll explain why.
In order for the kick to contribute to speed, it must not simultaneously cause drag. That means that it should not break the surface of the water. Also, it should not move too low below the body line. If either of these things happen, drag will slow you down. And a lot of that fast kicking then becomes wasted energy.