General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit? Rss Feed  
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2013-01-24 11:09 AM

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Subject: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?

I'm a newbie triathlete and a horrible swimmer.

Specifically, I have a real problem with "uphill swimming" - I have heavy legs and poor torso flexibility due to some historical back issues so no matter what I do, my hips sink.

Here's the thing: if I correct the buoyancy issue by swimming with a pull buoy between my legs, I fly through the water. Which seems to indicate that - apart from my sinking hips - my form is otherwise pretty good.

My question - obviously I can't compete with a pull buoy! But would a good wetsuit provide me the same kind of buoyancy as a pull buoy?



2013-01-24 11:13 AM
in reply to: #4592862

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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
smallard - 2013-01-24 1:09 PM

I'm a newbie triathlete and a horrible swimmer.

Specifically, I have a real problem with "uphill swimming" - I have heavy legs and poor torso flexibility due to some historical back issues so no matter what I do, my hips sink.

Here's the thing: if I correct the buoyancy issue by swimming with a pull buoy between my legs, I fly through the water. Which seems to indicate that - apart from my sinking hips - my form is otherwise pretty good.

My question - obviously I can't compete with a pull buoy! But would a good wetsuit provide me the same kind of buoyancy as a pull buoy?

The answer to your question is "probably, likely even more so" but I would suggest not going with the bolded above and giving up.  

2013-01-24 11:30 AM
in reply to: #4592862

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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
How is your kicking? Try going the opposite and get a kick board and work on kicking and positioning in the water.
2013-01-24 11:32 AM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?

What helps me 'train" my body not to sink (I have a poor kick) is one-armed drills.

I have a two piece wetsuit (DeSoto T1) and when races are wetsuit legal but the water is above 72 degrees I will only wear the bottoms.  Does provide a similar effect to the pull bouy.

2013-01-24 11:54 AM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
smallard - 2013-01-24 12:09 PM

I'm a newbie triathlete and a horrible swimmer.

Specifically, I have a real problem with "uphill swimming" - I have heavy legs and poor torso flexibility due to some historical back issues so no matter what I do, my hips sink.

Here's the thing: if I correct the buoyancy issue by swimming with a pull buoy between my legs, I fly through the water. Which seems to indicate that - apart from my sinking hips - my form is otherwise pretty good.

My question - obviously I can't compete with a pull buoy! But would a good wetsuit provide me the same kind of buoyancy as a pull buoy?

When you find a weakness like this, fix the weakness, don't rely on equipment to fix it.  There is probably something simple going on that a coach or even a decent swimmer could see.  One thing that pulls legs down is your head being up.  Focus on looking straight down at the bottom of the pool and make sure you're kicking, at least a little bit.  

Relying on a wetsuit will just make you a weaker swimmer.

2013-01-24 12:15 PM
in reply to: #4592950

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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
RookieIM - 2013-01-23 12:54 PM
smallard - 2013-01-24 12:09 PM

I'm a newbie triathlete and a horrible swimmer.

Specifically, I have a real problem with "uphill swimming" - I have heavy legs and poor torso flexibility due to some historical back issues so no matter what I do, my hips sink.

Here's the thing: if I correct the buoyancy issue by swimming with a pull buoy between my legs, I fly through the water. Which seems to indicate that - apart from my sinking hips - my form is otherwise pretty good.

My question - obviously I can't compete with a pull buoy! But would a good wetsuit provide me the same kind of buoyancy as a pull buoy?

When you find a weakness like this, fix the weakness, don't rely on equipment to fix it.  There is probably something simple going on that a coach or even a decent swimmer could see.  One thing that pulls legs down is your head being up.  Focus on looking straight down at the bottom of the pool and make sure you're kicking, at least a little bit.  

Relying on a wetsuit will just make you a weaker swimmer.

 

What he said x2!   The problem is technique related and can be fixed.  Dont rely on equipment to try and fix it.  It may actually lead to other issues and compound the problem.  Fix it at it's source. 



2013-01-24 12:16 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
band aid solution...you probably swim with your feet dorsi flexed.
2013-01-24 12:27 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
to add what would you do if a race was deemed to be non wetsuit? It happens and depending on where you are there may be no such thing as wetsuit optional like you see at races like Ironman Texas. This happened at our age group nationals in Canada and I watched people argue with the TriCan/ITU officials about this point some took their bikes out and didn't race and I assume the rest just sucked it up. The one guy kept saying he was going to wear it anyway and he was told he would not be allowed entrance to the starting area (waves are formed up in a marshalling area and then marched down to the lake through a controlled gate, anyone in a wetsuit would have been asked to leave). You have to solve the problem not invent a workaround.
2013-01-24 12:48 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
I was completely new to swimming last year ... the end of 2011 is when I began my commitment to becoming a better swimmer. I've been a runner all my life, and I had NOTHING in the pool. I was exhausted quickly and had zero propulsion to my kick. Zero. I still don't have all that much ... hardly any, but I've learned to kick less and am able to keep them up.

And I asked the very same question you just asked to my coach. I started wondering if my wetsuit would be giving me the same buoyancy as the pull buoy did. I was convinced I was just not a swimmer.

While the knowledge that my 2012 races were all likely to be wetsuit legal offered me solace at the time, I want you to consider the fact that you don't know, just yet, how much improvement is to be found.

The short answer, for new swimmers, is that you are going to see crazy amounts of improvement if you stick with it for another 6 months. You really will. I kept hearing that "it will click" and waited and waited for that to happen. Finally, it did. I can't describe a specific day, but I was suddenly swimming and celebrating various milestones ... 1500 completed in one workout ... then 1750 ... then 2000. My times were coming down and I was beginning to keep up with the Masters group for longer and longer each workout.

But you need to stick with it. I find that if I go 2 times per week, I pretty much maintain where I am. If I go 3 times per week, I start noticing obvious improvements. If i can get in the water 4 times per week, those improvements are screamingly obvious within only a few weeks.

And you really do need to do balance drills. The one-arm drill was also helpful to me. So was the kicking exercise where I rotate to one side and kick through the the length with my hips rotated to one side (keeping my face pointed down to the bottom of the pool and my arms to my sides). I then rotate my hips so that my body is facing the other direction ... back and forth, keeping your face down and breathing as necessary. I do this while wearing fins.

I wear fins for most of my kick sets and find that the Aqua Sphere Alpha fins have actually helped to slowly increase the flexibility in my runners' ankles. They were suggested by somebody on here, and I find that they don't serve as the crutch that the long rubber fins so clearly were for me. I'd guess that sets with fins make up, at most, 400 yds of my 3000 yd workout. Most days, it's usually only 200 yds.
2013-01-24 1:04 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?

i would advise you to start with some kick drills/exercises. Find the balance between your breathing and kicking. A proper breathing and 2 beat kicks are enough for your hips not to sink.

2013-01-24 7:10 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
Keep your head down. One piece of advice that clicked with me was to pretend you holding a tennis ball between your chin and chest while looking down. Your legs should follow suit.


2013-01-24 7:19 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
Also concentrate on pushing your chest down and arching your lower back. With this, a "light" kick can keep your legs up.
2013-01-24 7:30 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
That sinking can also come from a weak core.  Try some dry land core strengthening.. sounds like you're lacking body awareness.
2013-01-24 8:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?

pvfd304 - 2013-01-24 7:10 PM Keep your head down. One piece of advice that clicked with me was to pretend you holding a tennis ball between your chin and chest while looking down. Your legs should follow suit.

+1. If your back issues prevent you from staying parallel to the water surface that's probably because your neck is curved and not in a straight line with your spinal column. Like the above advice, except you can try to actually bring tennis ball to swim with by keeping it tucked with your chin and clavicle, and don't drop it rotating to breathe.

2013-01-25 8:34 AM
in reply to: #4593072

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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?

BernardDogs - 2013-01-24 12:48 PM
The short answer, for new swimmers, is that you are going to see crazy amounts of improvement if you stick with it for another 6 months. You really will. I kept hearing that "it will click" and waited and waited for that to happen. Finally, it did. I can't describe a specific day, but I was suddenly swimming and celebrating various milestones ... 1500 completed in one workout ... then 1750 ... then 2000. My times were coming down and I was beginning to keep up with the Masters group for longer and longer each workout.

But you need to stick with it. I find that if I go 2 times per week, I pretty much maintain where I am. If I go 3 times per week, I start noticing obvious improvements. If i can get in the water 4 times per week, those improvements are screamingly obvious within only a few weeks.

Nice post. There are no shortcuts, and that's a bummer for a lot of people who are into this wacky sport as a hobby, who want to "enjoy" the hobby "more" by being faster. Unfortunately, the way to be a better swimmer is to swim a lot, and the way to be a better triathlete is to swim, bike, and run a lot. You WILL become a better swimmer, but not because of gear - because you'll be a better athlete.

2013-01-25 10:07 AM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?

Thanks to all of you for the many helpful and supportive comments.

It so happens that I just picked up this month's Triathlete magazine and by coincidence, there's an article in there called Six Common Swimming Myths. Number 3 is "If you always race in a wetsuit, it's OK to always train with a pull buoy"!

It further says "over-training with a pull buoy will never allow you to learn how to balance your body in the water. Instead, do drills targeted on floating and arching your back to keep your body horizontal along the surface of the water".

So there you go! :-)



2013-01-28 3:35 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
Learning to swim is just hard. It takes time, sometimes allot, to see even any results. IMO a pull buoy should be used as a tool to maybe work on upper body form issues and not to be used as a crutch for lower body form issues.  I would just focus on tweaking your form a bit at a time. Maybe focus on a few laps with head position..a little higher or a little lower, see what happens.  I would focus on arching your lower back a tad, see what happens.  The hard part of swimming is you don't know you are doing it right, just wrong because you are slower then someone next to you or just getting the laps in is like running 10 miles.  For hips sinking, you want to look for few things.  As you bring you hand back past your hips, give a feel if your upper hip is touching air as it rotates.  I do this every now and then to check my form. Look for the feeling when you feel cold on your calves and feet.  I can tell how high/low my legs are by feeling cold water.  The colder the water, the closer to the surface.  Using these clues will help you dial in your position.  As in nemo, just keep swimming.
2013-01-28 4:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
Ankle band swimming FTW.
2013-01-28 5:06 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
RookieIM - 2013-01-24 12:54 PM
smallard - 2013-01-24 12:09 PM

I'm a newbie triathlete and a horrible swimmer.

Specifically, I have a real problem with "uphill swimming" - I have heavy legs and poor torso flexibility due to some historical back issues so no matter what I do, my hips sink.

Here's the thing: if I correct the buoyancy issue by swimming with a pull buoy between my legs, I fly through the water. Which seems to indicate that - apart from my sinking hips - my form is otherwise pretty good.

My question - obviously I can't compete with a pull buoy! But would a good wetsuit provide me the same kind of buoyancy as a pull buoy?

When you find a weakness like this, fix the weakness, don't rely on equipment to fix it.  There is probably something simple going on that a coach or even a decent swimmer could see.  One thing that pulls legs down is your head being up.  Focus on looking straight down at the bottom of the pool and make sure you're kicking, at least a little bit.  

Relying on a wetsuit will just make you a weaker swimmer.

The best advice. I assumed that my legs sank because I'd always been a runner. Spent some money on coaching and now my legs don't sink! And I'm not utterly wiped out when I get out of the water from kicking so much to compensate for poor body position. Still slow, but that's all drills now.

And what will you do if you rely on a wetsuit, and come race day the water is 80 degrees?

2013-01-28 6:16 PM
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Subject: RE: Sinking Hips - Pull Buoy v Wetsuit?
In 2011 I was where you are, probably worse.  It started to click after swimming with a group fo 5-6 weeks.  It was the little things that add up and my kick really needed work.  Lots of good advice and I concur with not counting on the wetsuit.  It'll come with proper practice.
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