Coaching, Training, Camps.

Cause and Effect Swimming
By Coach Stacee Seay
Swim Smooth Certified and Bolton Endurance Master Coach


Why do I feel out of breath when I swim? Why does it feel like my legs are dragging in the water? Why can’t I swim straight? These are a few very common questions asked by triathletes since the invention of the sport. Simple laws of physics say there must always be balance in the water.  Lets address these questions one at a time to understand the cause and effect.

Why do I feel out of breath when I swim?  The reality is, a lot of athletes were taught to hold their breath while swimming to create buoyancy in the chest. True, it does cause lifting of the chest but the effect of buoyancy in the chest is often low sinking hips and legs.


As a triathlete you would never hold your breath on the bike or while running. Don’t do it in the swim. Solution: Breathe in quickly and blow out constant and steady to create balance in your entire body that will help keep your legs closer to the surface.

Why does it feel like my legs are dragging in the water?  In addition to breath holding, there are several causes that create sinky legs in triathletes.  When kicking with bent knees or leaning on your lead arm as you breathe the effect is sinky legs that can actually stall you in the water or stop you all together.

Tight hip flexors caused by long hours in aero position or dorsal flexed feet from being a strong runner can also affect your sinky legs.

Solution: Stretch the hip flexors, calves and shins. Pop on some big floppy fins and focus on kicking with straighter legs with the power coming from the thighs and hips and lightly brushing the big toes together.

Why can’t I swim straight?  One of the main causes for not swimming straight is a significant cross over in the front of your stroke affecting you alignment and causing you to snake down the lane or swim several yards off course adding significant distance over the course of your race.  Solution: Sculling with arms out in front of your shoulders improving your catch.

Stretch the front of the shoulders and the scapula between the shoulder blades allowing the arms to comfortably extend forward from the shoulder creating the necessary rotation to propel you through the water straight.

The list of cause and affect for swimming keeps going on. You can learn more about your swim stroke through a comprehensive video analysis with several views from multiple angles to spot stroke flaws. Then learning the cause and effect stroke correction techniques. Most questions can be answered and corrected simply once you see what is happening. The effect of learning and performing specific stroke correction and muscle memory drill sequences is a faster, stronger easier swim with lots of gas in the tank for the other two disciplines in your race.

Contact Coach Stacee to schedule your video analysis either in person or by remote.