The Frog Crawl
The kick in swimming the crawl adds little to forward momentum, maybe ten or fifteen percent of the power. All the power comes from the arms. In the breaststroke the frog-like movement of the legs adds much more to propulsion, about forty percent I would estimate. The arms have less power than in the crawl (question: why?). Reflecting on these facts the other day it struck me that combining the arm movements of the crawl with the leg movements of the breaststroke would maximize power. Yet nobody ever does it, recreationally or competitively. I surmised that the reason is that this combination is physiologically impossible because of the disparate nature of the two sorts of movement. Theoretically the frog crawl would be the best stroke, but physiologically it isn’t feasible. I decided to put it to the test. It was certainly unnatural for the first few minutes, as one would expect, but it was by no means impossible. It was exhausting to be producing that much bodily movement, but it wasn’t something my body and brain couldn’t accomplish. Within ten minutes I was doing the frog crawl quite comfortably—and moving a lot more quickly. Practice confirmed theory. After half an hour trying out different variants of the new stroke it was second nature and it felt strange to go back the old kick. I had discovered a new way to swim! I venture to suggest that this is the natural way to swim “free-style” because your legs want to generate some power and not just trail behind you in a rather pointless shuffling action. You no longer feel that your arms are dragging you through the water with no real help from your legs; instead your legs are producing solid forward motion for your arms to modify and augment. I felt astonished alone there in the pool with no one to tell my discovery to. But why is this not generally known? Is it just the power of custom and habit (Hume)? Surely it has been thought of and rejected for some reason—but what? Later I tried to research the question via Google, but I found nothing to indicate that anyone recognized the existence of the frog crawl—and its superiority. So I am announcing it now, wondering if in fact the idea has already been mooted. It has certainly changed the way I swim from now on. I’m not going back to the old style.