Swimmers should concentrate working on their kick with flexible ankles in order to swim faster in the pool, reveals study.
Australian sport scientists have established that elite swimmers should use their backstroke and freestyle kick to make themselves go faster, not waste it trying to keep them upright if they wanted to get an edge in the pool. The findings were based on a new computer model of the rotational effects of buoyancy on drag.
David Pease, from the Australian Institute of Sport, said that kicking would be very inefficient at generating propulsion so every little bit that people could get out of the kick would be going to be a good thing.
He further explained that they could work on adjusting the technique of the kick in particular so that it could be more propulsive and the best way to do that was to maintain good ankle flexibility so the swimmers could press water backwards
The researchers calculated the position of each swimmer's centers of mass and buoyancy and found strong evidence to support the idea that a buoyancy torque helps keep swimmers horizontal.
The findings would be most relevant to freestyle and backstrokes which naturally have better buoyancy torque since more of the upper body would be out of the water in these strokes.
According to Pease the findings have important implications for the way swimmers are coached on kicking technique. Less than 10 percent of a kick was propulsive, so even if this gives just a small increase in speed it would be an advantage.
The study is published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics.