I think there is a myth out there about swimming and where the power comes from. I see so many people at the gym and at the beach doing circles with their arms using upper body power strokes to push themselves through the water while they frantically kick to compensate for a lack of balance.
Bottom-line, when you are balanced and coordinated in the water, you really don’t need to kick, especially in a calm pool (there are exceptions like rough ocean water where a slight kick helps stabilize the body in the waves). In fact, once you are balanced, you can move quickly through the water with minimal force.
How many people rotate to the point where the hips move a full 180 degrees? Not many, as a lot of swimmers I’ve seen rotate 25 – 40 degrees from a flat position, hence they use their arms and legs for power forward. This is inefficient.
I hereby argue that a true swimmer that is efficient and powerful with endurance propels themselves from the HIP!
Dude: “Woh…. hold on there landlubber! Power comes from the arm stroke and kick doesn’t it?.”
Me: “No… when fully rotating the hips drive the arms forward and you use your arms for stability and guidance (and maybe a little bit of power). You see, when you rotate from the hip, the body becomes something like a corkscrew and squeezes its way through the water. The biggest problem for a number of swimmers is that they don’t understand this and don’t experience the power of a full rotation.”
I guess when your swim coach tells you to “drive from the hip,” you better try harder and rotate more.
What prompted this crazy rant on swimming technique and power? This evening’s swim workout, one of my focal points was driving from the hip, using the arm stroke strictly for stability. You know, not only was I more relaxed, buy I shaved an average of 2.5 seconds off my lap time (which over 25m laps, is a lot at 500m). Simple story here, don’t work more than you have to, but don’t tell the guy swimming next to you… 😉
Cheers! Go strong or go home!