I had a bad childhood experience and have been afraid of water for many years. Now, in my early 50's, I'm determined to conquer my fear and learn to swim. I am having a TERRIBLE problem with the kicking! I don't get anywhere, even using a kickboard.
I am a runner and have tight hips/ankles etc., anyway, but I can't seem to relax or get the proper form or. I don't know, but I am very frustrated and have tried everything my coach and I can think of... Can you help me? I want to do this SO BADLY!! Thank you!
Your determination is to be admired! The fact that you have returned to the pool and are attempting to kick tells me that you have at least conquered most of your fear.
The problem you are experiencing is a very common one. Believe it or not, kicking with a kickboard is hard work, even for the most established swimmers. The precise kicking technique is needed if you get anywhere because the kickboard creates a resistance that you have to swim against.
An effective leg kick must be relaxed with a very loose ankle joint so the foot can behave like a fin and generate a small amount of power to help you move.
You have not specified which swimming stroke you are learning but either way, consider this: swimming strokes are not all about kicking.
Each component of each swimming stroke goes together to make your body move efficiently through the water. Your body position, arm pulls, breathing, coordination AND leg kicks all go together to make your swimming strokes complete and make you a confident and happy swimmer.
You will progress far quicker if you concentrate on keeping a streamlined body position, use your arms to generate some power and swim in a slow, relaxed way.
One of the most common underlying fears a beginner has is usually to do with submersion. Going underwater either partially or completely can scare live out of some potential swimmers and this then causes a chain reaction through the rest of the body causing them to swim in a very tense and almost robotic way.
If you are one of these people, try some simple submersion exercises, holding on to the poolside for security, then holding your breath and blowing out into the water or just submerging. Wearing some swim goggles can help make this easier and more comfortable.
But the bottom line is that it is not all about kicking. Yes, you have to kick off course and yes it has to be relaxed, but focus on other parts of your swimming stroke and after some practice and patience you will find your leg kick will do its job without you really trying.
Keep practising and soon you will forget you ever feared the water.
My ebook The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains all the help and support you need, from relaxing, floating and breathing to all the technique tips for learning to swim the four basic strokes. Click the link below for more information.