The chest, hips, legs and feet are all in a horizontal line on the surface of the water. This represents a good body position. Water is 754 times denser than air. Don’t be fooled. Get out of position and it will drag you down. Let’s see how to stay in position.
WHY DO MY LEGS SINK WHEN I SWIM?
Heavy muscles sink. Our legs are mostly muscle and bone. They are less buoyant than fat. Your upper body will float better and for longer because your lungs contain air which helps keep your thorax afloat whereas your legs will be the first to sink.
The center of gravity is different for men and women and this is why we also see different levels of body position proficiency between men and women. Women’s center of gravity is in their hips and men’s a little higher up in the navel which means that men are more unbalanced in the water and their legs are more likely to sink.
So really, body position is about balancing our bodies in the water to minimise drag. If we can learn to balance our legs and torso so that we lie as flat as possible on the water, then we have achieved a great step towards swimming more efficiently.
HOW DO I IMPROVE MY BODY POSITION?
The first step to finding your balance in the water and improving your body position is to find your natural floating position and see how much the legs sink. From what we just said above, it may be a little or a lot, remember, each person and their body type is different and certainly no one size fits all. Floating outstretched on the water is a great way to get good feedback on our ability to float and balance. We have a few great ways to do that, like some of our floating drills.
A neutral head position creates a favourable body position. A neutral position is where the head is floating on the water and you are looking down into the water. You should not look up while swimming. This puts undue pressure on the spine and sinks the legs. For the same reason it is important not to lift your head up out of the water but use split-screen breathing.
Core tension is very important to maintain balance and body position. Streamlining and stretching through the core helps to create and teach our bodies to apply this tension. This is why it is very important to push off every time from the wall in a streamline position and stretch through the torso while swimming. Don’t underestimate the positive effect streamlining can have on your body position.
And lastly, we mustn’t forget kicking. Kicking is great for improving our body position because it activates and strengthens the core muscles and helps us to balance our centre of gravity so that we lie flatter in the water. Always incorporate kicking into your swimming as a great way to improve your line, balance and posture and this is why it is so popular at SwimGym.