Swimming and Not Moving

I've been having swimming lessons for the last 8 weeks now, my problem is that I am swimming and not moving. Whenever I start swimming, I will get halfway, and no matter how hard I try kicking my legs and holding a float or using my arms, I’m not moving. Can you help?

Kicking the legs whilst holding a float is a tough exercise, even for established swimmers, let alone for someone learning to swim.

I will presume that you are kicking with an alternating front crawl type leg kick.

The trick is to have both a relaxed leg kick and a flat body position, preferably with your face in the water.

Your leg kick must be relaxed, with a slight knee bend and a very loose ankle, so that your foot acts much like a flipper. The downward beat of the leg kick provides the propulsion, and your kicks must be shallow.

This type of exercise is energy-consuming and requires a degree of stamina, particularly in the legs.

There is no need to pursue this exercise until it is perfect because other aspects of your swimming are just as important.

Perfecting the body position, arm action, and breathing will all affect and help your leg kick technique.

When you introduce your arms into your swimming stroke, it is important to remain relaxed and streamlined. By streamlined, I mean making your body as long and narrow in the water as possible to help you move through the water efficiently.

Relaxing into your swimming is the key, as sometimes the harder you try, the less relaxed you become, and then the more you sink!

You could try swimming in slow motion. You will definitely be relaxed, and you may be surprised at how far you get without really trying

Everything you need to MASTER Freestyle Swimming Stroke!

Simple basic drills with professional technique tips, covering all stroke parts from body position, leg kick, breathing and coordination.  

Download a copy of my book today. 


Do my bending knees make me sink?

Do my bending knees make me sink when swimming? I've had two lessons swimming so far, and I can't seem to propel my body forwards while swimming face down, and after a while, I sink. Observers say this is because I bend my knees and I can't seem to stop this. Also, after a couple of meters from the pool wall, I feel that my feet don't break the surface, and therefore, I start sinking. I'm not athletic, and can't raise my entire leg horizontally for long. Do you have any advice for me to get better?

From the information you have given me, I will assume you attempting to swim a freestyle type stroke rather than breaststroke. This type of leg kick must be relaxed with only a slight knee bend. If your leg kick is rigid or robotic in any way, then sinking legs will be the result!

With all adult beginners to swimming, the key is to feel your way through the water, not fight it. Sometimes swimming in a very relaxed slow motion without attempting to get anywhere will give you a better feel for the water, a better understanding of your own buoyancy, and result in you moving without you really trying. You can start off with a push away from the pool wall to give you some momentum to start, but even then, still only swim slowly so as to feel your way. When you get used to this feeling, only then can you add your own power to maintain your momentum.

Relaxed and effective front crawl leg kick

If a lack of flexibility in your legs is an issue that prevents you from straightening them sufficiently, then maybe consider learning breaststroke. The success rate of adults learning to swim using breaststroke is far greater than that of freestyle. This is because breaststroke is slower, more relaxing and requires less effort.You will find a basic guide to swimming breaststroke by clicking here.

If you are determined to pursue freestyle, then you may want to consider wearing some fins on your feet. They will help your propulsion and leg kick technique but be warned, they must be only temporary. Do not become reliant on them.

Basic drills for learning how to swim front crawl
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Problem Kicking Front Crawl Legs With A Float

I have a problem kicking front crawl legs with a float. I have a strange swim stroke of breaststroke legs with front crawl arms. This has never been an issue as I only ever used to swim across the pool to the bar on holiday to get a pina colada. But I have recently started doing sprint triathlons and wondered if there are any good techniques to practice my leg kick. I have tried the float in front and just kicking legs but get nowhere. My time for 400m is@ 8 min. Or do I need to get myself a few lessons?

The question you are really asking is to do with the timing and coordination of front crawl. You have been so used to kicking breaststroke legs that your front crawl legs now kick with the same 1 kick, 1 arm pull timing that they have been used to.

Before you kill yourself by kicking with a float and getting nowhere, think about the rest of your front crawl technique.

The speed and power of the leg kick is of the least importance to the rest of your swimming stroke. The majority of the power and propulsion for front crawl comes from the arm pull. The overall efficiency of the stroke comes from the horizontal and streamlined body position. The leg kick, therefore, is required to give the stroke balance and stability.

Yes, in some cases, the leg kick provides power but only over short sprint distances of 50 or 100 metres. You are competing in sprint triathlons, and despite its name, it is still essentially an endurance event.

Most of the best long-distance front crawl swimmers in the world swim using one kick for one arm pull. It uses far less energy for the distance required. This is much needed in your case as you will be cycling and running straight after!

Just be sure your leg kick comes from the hip with a slight knee bend and a very relaxed ankle joint. Kicking with a float will help you focus on this. Then, let the power of the arms and the efficiency of the body position get you easily through the water.

My eBook How To Swim Front Crawl contains over 20 separate exercises to help correct all parts of your swimming technique. You can print out the exercises you need and take them to your pool to try out. The exercises are very clear and easy to follow and you can download them instantly. Click the link below for more details.

Everything you need to MASTER Freestyle Swimming Stroke!

Simple basic drills with professional technique tips, covering all stroke parts from body position, leg kick, breathing and coordination.  

Download a copy of my book today.