PAN Am Aquatics Swimming (Open Water) Footwork

pan am aquatics open water swimming    Onshore, we see… waves lapping, freestyle arms pulling the swimmers ahead, 3K…4K…5K…back-and-forth…surge and slow…lead, draft, fall-back, one swimmer sprinting ahead of the pack with a strong kick to get to clear water, round the buoys smoothly, a sudden herd of swimmers at the lead swimmers’ feet, trying not to touch them…10K of open water swimming… a marathon.

Sprint Flutter Kick

This fast, up-and-down motion alternates feet. Toes pointed, feet stay submerged, rotating as the body rotates. Feet stay in the narrow path that the head and shoulders have cut through the water. This kick uses a lot of energy so it is best saved for the last part of the open water swim.

Distance Crossover Kick

This slower, less taxing kick is helpful for long events. Swimmers cross their ankles with each (or every other) kick.  The crossover kick is used less for propulsion and more for keeping swimmers in their rhythm and afloat.


Etiquette dictates that free riders have to stay back a few inches and not irritate the lead swimmer’s feet. If a competitor keeps touching his feet, the lead swimmer’s gives a few extreme kicks. The competitor gets the message.

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Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)


The Biomechanics of Your Walking Gait

Gait Stance Phase Feet on Ground

Whether you are conscious of it or not, your feet move your body forward to where you want to go at the pace you want to take. They use the least amount of energy by moving in as straight a line as possible, and adjust their movement to avoid pain if you have a painful foot condition.  They act as shock absorbers for your body. And unless you are hopping, your feet alternate on the ground as you go forward with the lower one propelling the one in mid-air forward.

The alternating of your feet as you walk happens in two phases:

  • The ‘Stance phase’ is when the foot is on the ground. It comprises about 60% of the walking cycle. For part of the stance phase both feet will be on the ground for a period of time.
  • The ‘Swing phase’ occurs when one foot is on the ground and one in the air.

Even during the ‘Stance phase’ a single foot goes through five sub-stages:

  • Heel strike
  • Early flatfoot
  • Late flatfoot
  • Heel rise
  • Toe off.

The defining difference between walking and running is that during running there is a period of time when both feet are off the ground (the ‘Float’ phase).  Also, as running is associated with greater speeds, the forces that go through the foot when it lands can be substantially greater than during walking; it is often 4-5 times body-weight during running and even up to 6-7times body-weight during sprinting.