If you have this problem don't worry, you're not alone. Many triathletes suffer in this way - particularly females with a swimming background as a child. The reason is that when swimming without a wetsuit you already have a very good body position with the legs sitting up very high in the water. The extra buoyancy from your suit actually takes your legs too high leaving you feeling very unbalanced in the water.
|If you already have a fantastic body position, a wetsuit can|
leave you feeling unbalanced in the water.
An important adaptation for Kicktastics is to lift your head higher and look further forward when you swim in your wetsuit. This lifts you slightly at the front and brings your legs down a touch, redressing the balance in your stroke. Experiment with a range of head angles, from looking 1-2 meters in front to looking right ahead with the goggles just beneath the surface.
Pro Example: Kate Bevilaqua
Paul Newsome is coaching double Ironman winner Kate Bevilaqua who also suffers from this frustrating problem in the water. Prior to working with Kate she swam around 62 minutes for 3.8km. Our first breakthrough was a 58 minute swim at IM New Zealand in March this year, followed by a 53 minute swim at IM Lanzarote in May. Paul worked on two aspects of her stroke:
- Strong 6-beat kick
- Often female
- Long limbs
- Hates wetsuits!
The better view forwards also helped Kate's drafting which is something we worked heavily on in April. Given that this can save her up to 38% of her energy expenditure if performed well, or allow her to sit with the faster age-group men, this is a major benefit that is essential for her to exploit.
2) Kate often complained of tired shoulders when using her wetsuit. She was coached to maintain a very high elbow during the recovery phase but inevitably the suit's resistance lead to premature fatigue at the start of her races. To improve this, Paul worked with Kate to swim with a straighter arm recovery which led to more hand clearance over the water (ideal for rougher swims) and also allowed her to tap into her ability to maintain high stroke rates in excess of 85 SPM (strokes per minute). This change gives her rhythm and purpose in a tightly packed open water swim.
If you are slower or feel unbalanced in your wetsuit then don't despair, try the the changes above and we're sure you'll instantly feel a lot more comfortable in your wetsuit and faster too. Let us know on the comments section of this blog how you go! You will also find plenty more specific advice to improve your stroke in the Kicktastic Swim Type Guide here.
If you are a swimmer who loves their wetsuit and you gain significant speed from the buoyancy, then you may find this hard to believe. It just shows how different we all are and why modern swim coaching is moving away from traditional one-size-fits-all methods to an individual approach.