I will be away this week and Chrissie has kindly offered to coach on Saturday instead.  It will be my session though (sorry!) and this week I would like you to focus on your legs.

Legs are not something we do a lot of work on as they are less important for distance swimming than good arms and body position, especially when you have a wetsuit to help keep them afloat.  However, they do play an important role in stroke timing and rhythm so are especially useful to think about when we start to try and pick up the pace leading into race season.

I think your legs are a great way to ensure an even stroke tempo and increase your stroke rate without rushing the pull and slipping water.  If you have a constant leg-kick, without pauses, then you will naturally have a constant arm-stroke without any pauses, too, as your arms and legs need to stay in sync.  So if you have any pauses in your stroke then thinking about keeping your legs moving continuously can, somewhat counter-intuitively, help correct this and keep your arms moving continuously.

Also, if you want to increase your stroke rate a great way to do it is to kick faster, as your arms will naturally speed up to stay in sync.  You don’t want to kick fast the whole time, though, as it is too tiring but kicking hard at the start of a race, or even the first few strokes on each length, is often a good way to start with a nice high stroke rate.  This higher stroke rate is often easier to maintain once started, even when you put less effort in with your legs and drop back to a sustainable pace.

This week you will have three opportunities to work on your legs.

  • There will be some kick in the warm-up, where you should focus on kicking with straight legs and pointed toes.  Backstroke legs is great for this – make sure your knees stay in the water.  Many of you are very poor at this so please think about it!
  • The main set has some progressively-paced swims.  Use an increased leg speed to set the tempo for your arms as you increase the pace in this set.
  • The final set this week is 25m sprints.  A fast and powerful leg kick is a key part of sprinting so please, please, please don’t do these like I normally see most of you do with a hardly visible leg kick.  Make your leg kick look like you have an outboard motor attached to you and use this to blow away the person you are racing in your lane!

Have fun and see you next week.