Sinking When Swimming Freestyle

by Allison James
(Louisville, KY )

I have a problem with a pupil sinking when swimming freestyle. I'm trying to teach a young lady freestyle, but she tends to kind of sink when we add the arms and legs together.


We've worked on both arms & legs separately and I have been sure to tell her that it's a fluent motion using your entire body together.

I've started working on glides to get her momentum going, then add the flutter kick & she starts sinking or going farther under water getting closer to the bottom of the pool. She feels pretty relaxed when she's doing the glides with the kicks.

How can I fix this problem?


There are a few things you can try to help get this lady swimming on the surface.

First of all make sure you are not placing too much emphasis on the leg kick to provide momentum. The propulsion and subsequent momentum for front crawl comes mainly from the arm action.

Your lady obviously has a body composition that does not naturally float so she has to not only learn to move through the water but also learn how to keep her body at the surface. We swimmers naturally keep ourselves at the surface as we swim regardless of our body composition and ability to float.

Most of the best swimmers in the world have a body composition that does not float and like most people that can swim they make subtle adjustments to their technique to keep them at the water surface (movements of the head, hands and feet). This can be a tricky concept for an established swimmer to pass on to a beginner because we do this stuff without really thinking about it.

A glide is a great place to start but ensure that the head position is level with eyes looking forward and down. If the head is raised even slightly the legs will sink. If the head is too deep the glide will nosedive downwards.

Try a push and glide with a pull buoy between the legs and then add the arm action. The pull buoy may provide some support and if the arm action is relaxed and smooth then a level position could be maintained for longer.

Also try her swimming with some fins on. They will assist the leg action and help propulsion and momentum, so then she can get a feel for moving on a level plane.

Obviously she must not come to rely on fins or a pull buoy but they may assist her in experiencing the right position and correct movements through the water as she learns.

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