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Beginner's 1-Arm Drill - From Buoyancy to Efficiency

 
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SolarEnergy




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Beginner's 1-Arm Drill - From Buoyancy to Efficiency Reply with quote

The purpose of this article is to propose a simple progression leading to a sound execution of the Beginner's 1-Arm Drill. It's been said (and I definitely agree) that UNCO is the King of Drills. That though isn't true for all swimmers' levels. Beginners should first master their version of 1-Arm Drill which is done with the *other arm* leading forward in the front.

The benefits of Beginner's 1-Arm drill are manyfold. Helps your posture, your breathing, your leg kick, your body rotation, etc... What we often forget though, is that it's also an excellent drill to learn to tame Buoyancy/Gravity. So the question that's worth asking in tackling on this drill is: Can you at least Float?

Therefore Part #1 of this article addresses the Buoyancy component, which is largely underdocumented on the Web at the moment.
- - - - - -

Part #1 - Can you at least Float??


If you're still early into your swim career, at the stage where you are almost able to swim perpetually with ease.. Either you can swim 2kilos but it's pulling out a lot of energy or you have to stop once in a whilst. Well this post might be for you. Or... If you think you can't float, this post is definitely for you too Wink

What's buoyancy? From you guys' perspective? It's a force. Like your biceps or legs... especially your legs. Here. Have you ever been asked to float without moving? Or worst? Have you been asked to float entirely at the surface (ie, in horizontal position) without moving? What have you felt? A "Force" that's bringing you down? Usually your legs would sink first so we could conclude that this Dark force (Gravity by the way) is taking you down legs first. Well then Buoyancy could be defined as the Bright force that can fight (hopefully) against the dark one. This is how Buoyancy can be considered as a force. Without it, you have to find some force elsewhere to oppose against Gravity, which again tries to bring you down.

I recently had a 90-min long 1-on-1 session with a triathlete wanna be. Subject is a runner that registered to an Ironman Event held next Autumn. Started swimming this autumn and have put several weeks of hard efforts to it. Yet, before the 1-on-1 session this subject was convinced that he could not swim perpetually without being forced to stop to compensate for an oxygen deficit. I had had a group session with this subject a few weeks ago which allowed me at the time to realize that he suffered from a major issue: He was misusing Buoyancy whilst swimming. He would rather spend more energy kicking than simply trusting the water as being an environment capable of supporting him... at least in part. When I saw this, I invited him for a 90min long 1-on-1 session with the intention of really getting back to basics; ie "Can you at least Float?"

For me, there's only one valid test to perform in order to assess your buoyancy potential, and it's this simple one here. That I consider as being Step 1...

Lungs full of air, body regrouped (sorry, missing the appropriate translation here), do you stay at the surface yes or not. If you're like 95% of the population, you'll stay at the surface. The subject on this clip was surprised to learn that he could actually float.

Then the next step (2) is to try to float in a natural and relaxed position. This should replace the (stupid) idea that we should try to float on our belly, body perfectly horizontal etc... If you're a male with a relatively low body fat percentage, you're not likely to be able to float on your belly, maintaining a perfectly horizontal position without moving. It's almost impossible and you can not improve this (or very very little)...

Notice here that near the end, when the subject brings his arms at the front, it has a favourable impact on his balance. The legs naturally tend to move up. That the Quest. That's the feeling we should aim for when working on Buoyancy in this position. This become even more important when we reach Step 4.

Floating in back position (that's Step 3) is more difficult, but equally important. The problem here is that when the Dark force is taking you down, you may end up with your face underwater and end up with salt/pepper in your nose. Just be careful at how you begin trying to float in back position. Don't give any swing, or momentum. Start in a standing position and play with head position. Lungs full of air. Be careful when you breathe as it is often enough to end up face covered with water. Make it quick and clean.



Now the last and again very important step in improving buoyancy is to try and transfer this whilst moving forward. Momentum will greatly help buoyancy...


The great thing that happened when we reached this stage with the subject featured on these clips, is that he started realizing then describing that in order to retain his horizontal position as long as possible, he had to become aware of core engagement. Bare with me.

Your buoyancy center, this is where the Bright Force is felt, happens to be at the upper body level. Gravity, the Dark Force is taking you down by the lower body. In order to try and transfer some of the Bright Force down to the lower body, there needs to be some Core muscle engagement.

And this is this very particular element that made the whole difference. Something big happened. First the subject realized he could float, thanks to the first few exercises which by the way should be worked on on a regular basis, then he realized that some of the Bright Force could be transfered whilst moving forward.

My goal was then reached. The Bright Force was now with him!


Last edited by SolarEnergy on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SolarEnergy




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject: Part #2 - The actual Drill Progression Reply with quote

Part #2 - Now we know you can float, use this Buoyancy as a force to help your swimming


Part two of this article involves moving a bit. In part one, we went up until moving forward by executing a push off the wall, but we weren't moving any limbs. Part two deals with it.

What was asked to the subject, all the way throughout the entire session and it's been a recurring theme: Move as little as possible. Otherwise, you'll fall back to your old habits, making no room to your new friend, the Buoyancy. So move as little as possible, just enough to get your body moving foward. Remember the Step #4 of the Buoyancy progression? We could realize that by gaining just a bit of momentum, it was easier to keep the body at the surface. Only when momentum drops, the Dark force brings you down pulling you by the toes.

So here in Part #2, we keep this in mind. The momentum we generate during the drilling is enough to help the body to float better. So it ain't only working on 1-Arm Drill, but doing it from an entirely different angle. That will explain the variation of this drill I'd like to propose. This variation promotes taking time to play with parameters that affect buoyancy at very specific points. Without further ado, let us look at a clip...



OK. I'm sure you got it, as well as the slight differences between your typical 1-arm drill and that version. Starting position in my mind is on the side. That is the most important position to master for beginners here as it's where you can learn to gain ease in breathing.

1. Find a great breathing position. For this, you may need to look at the seilling. You end up almost on your back. It's a good way to learn, certainly not swimming like this forever, but it really feels home this position. Notice how the swimmer in the demo has her face well exposed to the air. So that's step one. It's possible that you may need to work on kicking on your back first. If you really started swimming like, two weeks ago? Possible that you need this. Subject on Part #1's clip had to. The next 2 clips will show our Subject learning these two abilities. This all took place in one 90min session. If you find a quiet pool, it may go that fast for you too!






Notice how on the second clip, the side position is almost back position? This is actually quite easy to achieve. Look up at the seilling, put the arm that's by your side further back, turn your shoulder toward the back too, like open it. You'll notice all that on the second clip since it's what I asked the subject.

Then. Next step is to turn the shoulder inward, bring the arm in front of you as opposed to more off in the back, and try to get a side position without sacrifying too much comfort breathing wise. The best that our subject could do here, given the time spent (10min or so) is this...



Notice on this last clip how the subject seemed to struggle as he was getting more and more on the side. Perfect side position is not something optimal for Buoyancy. That's probably because the body is presented to the water differently, exposing its mass differently. That affects Buoyancy. But here. And it's very important. Subject was asked to tolerate the sinkage as much as possible, trying to fight it with BUOYANCY, not kick. Get in a quiet lane, and learn to float whilst moving, even when things get rough.

Next? You add the breathing. The in-and-out movement of the face. Why? Because in itself, it is a major cause of discomfort whilst swimming. Gotta get used to water leaking on your face and in your mouth ect. Leaving the comfortable position and then finding it back. Very important drill here. SwimSmooth's side kicking.



Notice that dropped elbow? Subject did not hear about it not even once. It's as if this flaw was not there for him. One thing at the time. Get to float first, that's the number one priority along with breathing. Lastly he will worry with dropped elbow, like in 2 or 3 months from now or so.


Then you're all set. Now the execution of the drill goes as follow.

1. Get into the side-back position, find perfect breathing position. both googles outside water, smiling at the sun.

2. As soon you get it you can now move on the side, slowly. Very little kick all the way, use buoyancy to float, not your kick. Wide kick we don't care. Just get moving forward a bit.

3. Then put your face in the water and stay on the side. Start to exhale. You have plenty of time to control your breathing, you're not moving your arm yet.

4. Then recover the arm and adopt flat position, both arms in the front.

5. Quickly take a pull (as staying on your belly has very little value)

6. And you're back almost on your back if this is required to find good breathing position

Focus on Popeying your mouth as this will allow to more easily find a proper breathing position. Here's how our subject did...



Obviously, the subject is rotating too much on his back. But he was asked to perform the drill on both his good and bad side. We were at the end of the session, so that's something to work on. If you notice, expanding that little energy in kicking was making breathing difficult after having performed the rotation back to breathing position. Sometimes his face was covered with water. This subject had a very nasty flaw of pulling out his whole head to breathe... I mean big big time. So the execution is not perfect, but it still allowed us to meet the subject's goal for that day.

One other thing. And that's sad. When people like this subject come at me for private session, sometimes by looking at them I know in advance that there's only so much I can do. This subject has very limited upper body flexibility. As soon as he tries to extend one arm, you see this. Ankles flexibility are that of a marathon runner that never swam before. Zero (0). That explains these ultrawide movements. In order to push a bit of water backward with his feet, he has to open wide like they say. And that. You can only very strongly suggest to work on flexibility. And only with time, posture flaws will totally disapear.

I have been convinced that every one of you could and should work on your swimming 7 days a week, just not at the pool all the time. Anyone of you that have poor ankle flexibility would improve both kick and overall stroke more by getting those ankles flexible than actually training at the pool with a board.

Try 10 minutes per day, 5 spent on the ankles, 5 spent on upper body. A 30 day challenge. Just be careful specially with the ankles not to hurt yourself.

Enjoy and feel free if you have any questions or comments. Also this stuff is all open for debate I don't bite.


Last edited by SolarEnergy on Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:36 am; edited 3 times in total
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SolarEnergy




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:02 pm    Post subject: Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually Reply with quote

Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually

At the end of this session, it became obvious to me that the subject was now exploiting his Buoyancy, at least to a very large extent. Therefore I'd see no reason why he wouldn't be able to swim.

Did we improve his leg kick? No. Did I teach him how to kick less? Indirectly yes, but not by asking him directly. Did he become more fit all of a sudden? Impossible.

At the end of the session, his perception was still that he wouldn't be able to swim non stop. That's normal, he'd been struggling for weeks to achieve this. Still. I asked him why don't you go in a quiet lane and try a kilo? He tried. I went to train in the gym in the mean time. Almost a full hour after (which meant for him that he had now spent a total of 2h30min in the water) we met in the lockers. I was surprised to see him there. Well not only could he swim a kilo, but he did 2. He reported waiting to see by which time he'd loose breath? Well that just never happened.

Do not build fitness if you can't swim perpetually. Build technique. And do not build any technique if you're still not clear on the Buoyancy side. Learn to tame this Force instead, then build technique upon it, then build fitness on all that.

Work on your Buoyancy in a quiet environment. Normal training time in this regard should be at least 20min of work. Add some stretching to it and core work by the side of the pool, you're up to a 40-50min long session which, I like to believe, might pay off far more than just diving in the pool and struggle against the water.

All this sounds like "hey Charles, we knew all that". In my opinion, it shouldn't take more than 2 weeks to learn to swim perpetually without running out of air, and that regarless of age and gender. The subject on the clips had been spending weeks and weeks with no result. It's a non sense. This should be the signal that it's time to get back to basics.

When you work on Buoyancy:
- Be as relaxed as possible
- Some of this relaxation will transfer in your swimming so it's a great thing
- Be aware of your core engagement and learn to use it to improve body position and posture
- Then when you drill and swim, connect with this feeling of Buoyancy.
- The end result should be that you'll need less kick which in turn means better efficiency
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zl




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

definitely seen that fear that if you aren't busy moving arms or legs you will sink, watching breaststrokers. Many of those could go as far and as fast with less effort if they tried

Also racking my brains to remember who introduced me to the floating vertically in the water though I was shown it will the arms out in a crucifix like position. Suspect it must have been at school doing some life saving stuff since had very little tuition in the period between school and taking up triathlon. Never really thought of it and core muscles as a kid you just do it

I guess the other thing we did at this stage that has stood me in good stead now I need to learn FC having been a long term breaststroker is sculling. We used to still things like widths of feet first sculling on the back (I always found more fun than head first). Little did I know it at the time
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SolarEnergy




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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zl wrote:
definitely seen that fear that if you aren't busy moving arms or legs you will sink, watching breaststrokers. Many of those could go as far and as fast with less effort if they tried

Also racking my brains to remember who introduced me to the floating vertically in the water though I was shown it will the arms out in a crucifix like position. Suspect it must have been at school doing some life saving stuff since had very little tuition in the period between school and taking up triathlon. Never really thought of it and core muscles as a kid you just do it

I guess the other thing we did at this stage that has stood me in good stead now I need to learn FC having been a long term breaststroker is sculling. We used to still things like widths of feet first sculling on the back (I always found more fun than head first). Little did I know it at the time
My bad you read the whole thing? Thanks!! Very Happy

Yeah, I guess these things though they may apear obvious and are certainly of no interest for faster swimmers, are worth a little paper. The number of times I hear : "I sink if I don't move therefore I can't become a good swimmer", or read "How can I learn to use less kick", or even "been spending the last 21 months learning how to swim. I'm doing fine but I have to stop once in a while to catch my breath, how can I improve my fitness"...

Besides a fair number of tri coaches which may not have had the chance to actually learn the basics of swimming may sometimes overlook these things. As a proof, the subject on this clip had been training with a team (and he still is, and he has no hard feelings against his coach). When you come from a running/cycling background, the relation between Buoyancy and performance may not be that obvious. Yet, we saw a few years ago how major this Force can become. Think of this as your natural innexpensive always permitted wetsuit.

OK. Must write the Part#2 now. Thanks anyway zl!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner's 1-Arm Drill - From Buoyancy to Efficiency Reply with quote

[quote="SolarEnergy" (and I definitely agree) that UNCO is the King of Drills. ![/quote]

Hi Mate Sorry to rock the boat but as we both accept different views (As does Paul) I do not teach UNCO or do it

The rest is great stuff just going through it all. You do not train/teach enough or do not sleep? Very Happy

Ta
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SolarEnergy




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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Beginner's 1-Arm Drill - From Buoyancy to Efficiency Reply with quote

Speedo Swimmer wrote:


Hi Mate Sorry to rock the boat but as we both accept different views (As does Paul) I do not teach UNCO or do it
Different point of view, that's awesome. May I ask you why?

Speedo Swimmer wrote:
You do not train/teach enough or do not sleep? Very Happy
Yeah I know... I'm addicted. It sucks sometimes... but not too often Smile
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MoonMountain




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:39 am    Post subject: Re: Beginner's 1-Arm Drill - From Buoyancy to Efficiency Reply with quote

SolarEnergy wrote:
Have you ever been asked to float without moving? Or worst? Have you been asked to float entirely at the https://deadliftdonkey.com/my-crazy-bulk-review crazy bulk surface (ie, in horizontal position) without moving?


I'm a great swimmer now and I still can't float horizontally like that. lol.

Great post by the way. I'll send this to my nephew who is learning to swim at the moment.


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Chrace




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually Reply with quote

SolarEnergy wrote:
The great thing that happened when we reached this stage with the subject featured on these clips, is that he started realizing then describing that in order to retain his horizontal position as long as possible, he had to become aware of core engagement.

SolarEnergy wrote:
Be aware of your core engagement and learn to use it to improve body position and posture

Any chance you could elaborate on this part? If buoyancy is in the upper body, engaging core muscles will make you sink link a plank rather than an L-shaped figure? I don't think I can engage the core so hard that it'll push air in my feet. Shocked

I haven't been in the pool to try this out yet so it might come naturally, but as a long term 2:00/100m on any distance from 400m to 4km I'm now, finally, open to trying new stuff. Smile

Thanks for posting!

(Another one who read it all...)
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Castleman




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure if SolarEnergy is still around (great guy, met him when he was over in UK once) as this thread is quite old now.

RE: core engagement - try to swim whilst pretending* to hold a coin between your buttocks and keeping your core taut and stretched as you rotate and catch on each side.

* you don't have to pretend, but is maybe awkward if you do actually use a coin.
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Pedro Peru




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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually Reply with quote

Chrace wrote:
SolarEnergy wrote:
The great thing that happened when we reached this stage with the subject featured on these clips, is that he started realizing then describing that in order to retain his horizontal position as long as possible, he had to become aware of core engagement.

SolarEnergy wrote:
Be aware of your core engagement and learn to use it to improve body position and posture

Any chance you could elaborate on this part? If buoyancy is in the upper body, engaging core muscles will make you sink link a plank rather than an L-shaped figure? I don't think I can engage the core so hard that it'll push air in my feet. Shocked

I haven't been in the pool to try this out yet so it might come naturally, but as a long term 2:00/100m on any distance from 400m to 4km I'm now, finally, open to trying new stuff. Smile

Thanks for posting!

(Another one who read it all...)


I wandered about this for a long time too and couldn't figure it out and the idea of engaging your glutes, as some suggest, to keep your legs up whilst kicking just doesn't make mechanical sense to me at all. The thing that explained it to me was an interview with Gerry Rodrigues explaining body position (IIRC) and he explains it as reaching forward and keeping the body taught and for whatever reason that made sense to me combined with Solar's great advice. I can keep my feet up no problem now when swimming but still struggle to keep it going when doing band only so still need to improve this.

In practical terms doing lots of Solar Energy's 0 arm - full swim and band only drills are what helped.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:43 am    Post subject: Re: Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually Reply with quote

Chrace wrote:
SolarEnergy wrote:
The great thing that happened when we reached this stage with the subject featured on these clips, is that he started realizing then describing that in order to retain his horizontal position as long as possible, he had to become aware of core engagement.

SolarEnergy wrote:
Be aware of your core engagement and learn to use it to improve body position and posture

Any chance you could elaborate on this part? If buoyancy is in the upper body, engaging core muscles will make you sink link a plank rather than an L-shaped figure? I don't think I can engage the core so hard that it'll push air in my feet. Shocked

I haven't been in the pool to try this out yet so it might come naturally, but as a long term 2:00/100m on any distance from 400m to 4km I'm now, finally, open to trying new stuff. Smile

Thanks for posting!

(Another one who read it all...)


Float in the water, like a star float but with legs in swimming position. Then try to get those legs up without kicking. Engage the core and they come up. Try different things. Then once in decent body position use your arms (and legs) to propel yourself forward. Ian thorpe used to do this before every swim! Good enough for him good enough for anyone!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:57 am    Post subject: Re: Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually Reply with quote

hammerer wrote:
Chrace wrote:
SolarEnergy wrote:
The great thing that happened when we reached this stage with the subject featured on these clips, is that he started realizing then describing that in order to retain his horizontal position as long as possible, he had to become aware of core engagement.

SolarEnergy wrote:
Be aware of your core engagement and learn to use it to improve body position and posture

Any chance you could elaborate on this part? If buoyancy is in the upper body, engaging core muscles will make you sink link a plank rather than an L-shaped figure? I don't think I can engage the core so hard that it'll push air in my feet. :shock:

I haven't been in the pool to try this out yet so it might come naturally, but as a long term 2:00/100m on any distance from 400m to 4km I'm now, finally, open to trying new stuff. :)

Thanks for posting!

(Another one who read it all...)


Float in the water, like a star float but with legs in swimming position. Then try to get those legs up without kicking. Engage the core and they come up. Try different things. Then once in decent body position use your arms (and legs) to propel yourself forward. Ian thorpe used to do this before every swim! Good enough for him good enough for anyone!


Thanks - this is the kind of thing that actually makes me want to get in the pool.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Castlemon wrote:
Not sure if SolarEnergy is still around (great guy, met him when he was over in UK once) as this thread is quite old now.

RE: core engagement - try to swim whilst pretending* to hold a coin between your buttocks and keeping https://effectivephen375.com my phen375 review will help you decide how does phen375 works and what stores sell phen375 your core taut and stretched as you rotate and catch on each side.

* you don't have to pretend, but is maybe awkward if you do actually use a coin.


I met him once, i had his number too he was the one introduced me to couple of my good friends, i had his number but its out of reach now, although i hope he is doing great.


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Chrace




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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Conclusion - The subject can now swim perpetually Reply with quote

hammerer wrote:
Chrace wrote:
SolarEnergy wrote:
The great thing that happened when we reached this stage with the subject featured on these clips, is that he started realizing then describing that in order to retain his horizontal position as long as possible, he had to become aware of core engagement.

SolarEnergy wrote:
Be aware of your core engagement and learn to use it to improve body position and posture

Any chance you could elaborate on this part? If buoyancy is in the upper body, engaging core muscles will make you sink link a plank rather than an L-shaped figure? I don't think I can engage the core so hard that it'll push air in my feet. Shocked

I haven't been in the pool to try this out yet so it might come naturally, but as a long term 2:00/100m on any distance from 400m to 4km I'm now, finally, open to trying new stuff. Smile

Thanks for posting!

(Another one who read it all...)


Float in the water, like a star float but with legs in swimming position. Then try to get those legs up without kicking. Engage the core and they come up. Try different things. Then once in decent body position use your arms (and legs) to propel yourself forward. Ian thorpe used to do this before every swim! Good enough for him good enough for anyone!

Yup, I have since then figured this one out. I can do arms forward easily, arms straight out to side just about, but as soon as they drop back past the head the whole think sinks. Not that I thing that is actually wrong, just an observation.
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