An answer to my "problem"

It's always great to learn new things about swimming, even at my age.

In my last blog entry, I said I was working on improving my hip flexibility through yoga because my left and right legs weren't kicking the same way. After every kick set my left leg is more sore than my right one. For the past couple of years, I thought the legs were off-kilter because I had long ago had a slightly uneven armstroke, so I believed my legs were off-balance to compensate for my armstroke.

Last night, we got "Swimming Fastest" by Ernest Maglischo in the mail. I was leafing through the breaststroke chapter, and a lot of it reaffirmed my choice to switch to the wave breaststroke, including a section on loss of velocity during the leg recovery:

The flat-style swimmer ... produces a considerable amount of pushing drag during his leg recovery because he pushes his thighs down and forward against the water. Velocity measurements of many flat style breaststrokers have shown that their forward speed decelerates markedly when they recover the legs in this manner. In fact, many come to a dead stop during this phase of the stroke cycle.
The wave style swimmer ... reduces pushing drag by lowering his hips when he recovers his legs and bringing his lower legs forward without pushing his thighs downward. ... Recovering the legs in this way produces less resistive drag than pushing water forward with the larger thighs.

But I found the most interesting thing on page 227:

The final technical feature of these kick patters that I want to comment on is the slight difference between the movements of the right and left legs. Underneath kick patters show that swimmers' right legs have a longer and wider pattern of motion than their left. Asymmetry of ths type is typical of most breaststroke swimmers (Czbanski and Koszczyc, 1979). Just asall swimmers seem to have one arm that is more effective than the other, so do the legs differ in propulsion efficiency. The left leg is usually the inferior limb (Czbanski 1975).

Wow! This was probably the most insightful thing I've learned in a long time. Essentially, I'm not the only one who has these problems, though I've never heard anyone complain about leg strength differences.

This doesn't mean I won't stop trying to make my legs as close to equal strength as possible through yoga and longer kick sets.

If you want to buy a copy of "Swimming Fastest," go to amazon.com.

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