First time I learned to swim properly, the coach showed how easy it was to float and said everyone can do it. I tried and failed. I couldn’t float on my back without my legs sinking and pulling my head down. and if i face downward it is still the same. By taking a big breath before holding it I could almost float, i would be in 45 degree position, my legs still pulling down. The moment I breath out, my body would sink to the bottom. I disregarded what my coach said about everyone can float <like he did>, But throughout the training, I learned by myself that I needed to add forces pushing up to float in addition to moving forward. But my body in swimming is usually slanted, which causes a bit more drag. As I learned physics and biology, I accepted that my body composition caused my density to sink in water. In general, runners have dense leg bones and muscle and therefore their legs sink while their chest floats do to the air inside the lungs. In the case of body builders they have a dense body due to more muscles overall. so they would generally sink flat to the bottom.
It was when I learnt Total Immersion swimming I learned how to “balance” my body. I still sink if I stop, but I now am able to keep my body horizontal in the water and therefore reducing my drag effectively. The trick is simple, and it comes in different parts. The basics is in free floating my legs would sink and my lungs would keep my up, but when i place my arms forward, and look down to the floor, the angle of my body flattens a bit. Now when I do a glide, where i kick off from the wall and just glide without using my legs and hands, i keep the same position, head facing down, hands forward, maybe slightly lower. I find that my forward hands allows my body to flatten horizontally, until i slow down and my legs start to sink again.
So in swimming, total immersion adapts a front quadrant stroke, which ensures that one hand is always in front, where the other hand recovers and spear in before the other hand pulls down and back. In this technique the strokes allow for the hands to tilt or turn the body position. In essence, letting the body lie on its sides with every stroke. This actually allows for the sinking legs to turn to the side and maintain the horizontal body position. This interestingly makes me look like a floater, for which i am not, I just learned how to deflect the sinking motion of my legs to the sides and add to forward motion instead.
I noticed when I swim for long distances in the pool some people trying to balance in a static position, probably trying to emulate what they see, when it is actually my forward motion and tilting from side to side that helps me keep horizontal. Especially when i practice the 2 beat kick from the total immersion swimming, there is a significant amount of time that makes it look like we are gliding effortlessly in the water.
I hope that this article helps sinkers out there swim effortlessly.
If you are interested to know more about total immersion, then google it up or even better youtube it. It is the most graceful and yet still fast and enduring swimming I have experienced. you can probably find the books on it. I personally teach beginners how to swim, and I focus on how easy it can be, instead how to swim faster.
note: i’ll put in the links later,for now i just want to get this article out there.