Ideally you want to be swimming in as narrow a tube of water as possible so you're streamlined. By this we mean just outside the width of your arms, or elbows as they pull back in the catch and pull underwater phases and no deeper than your leg kick, which should be 30cm deep and not too wide with your feet staying close together.
This will also help you to reduce turbulence in the water, slipping and gliding through it as smoothly as possible!
If you do swim "outside of your virtual tube" then your balance is affected and you slip / drop in the water from a few areas such as:
• Head turning too much to breathe
• Lifting head to turn prior to breathing
• Legs scissor kicking or going too deep / bending
• Over rotating
• Arms catching and pulling too deep
• Arms crossing over the mid-line of the body pushing water laterally
Here's 3 simple things to help you increase your balance:
3.Lead arm positioning
1. Head position
"Where your head goes, your body will follow".
If you look forwards your legs will drop, if you lift your head too much and also lift sideways when breathing your legs will drop.
Imagine you are holding a grapefruit between your Adam's apple and chin so your head is in neutral.
2. Legs position
If your legs are bending too much, kicking too fast or too deep you'll be exponentially increasing your drag and resistance in the water.
You can see this with a swimmer who kicks like this with a kick-board, as they will either stay still or go backwards in the pool. Translate this to how you're trying to propel yourself in the water with a good catch and pull phase and you're effectively fighting yourself and the water.
Your legs should be kicking about 30cm deep, big toes tapping as they cross, legs close, kicking from the hips with a very slight bend on the down stroke, and legs straight on the up stroke, with flopping ankles and your feet acting as the fins. For longer distance swimming your leg kick should aim to balance your arms. If you kick too hard, then they use too much oxygen!
3. Lead arm positioning
If you lean on your lead arm and allow it to drop too soon your body will be unbalanced and you'll most likely be struggling with inhaling and exhaling sufficiently enough to sustain your efforts.
Keep your lead arm high in the water by placing your ear on your shoulder as you glide following the entry.
Find out more and book yourself a Swim Video Analysis Session: