Experiencing cramps while swimming? Check out this message from Ironman Triathlete Keith Davis
Add some daily exercises to create more flexibility and strength in your ankle. Drawing the alphabet with your big toes is a good and easy one. Everything below your knee should be perfectly relaxed. If you are flexing your calves or feet to get them streamlined, that may be adding to the cramp issue. I too occasionally get cramps in the feet, so when I swim, I have to make sure my feet are relaxed and only along for the ride. The more range of motion you have in your ankles, the less work you need to do to straighten your feet.
As a triathlon swimmer, I also think about the kick not as a method of forward propulsion as much as it is a way to maintain a good body position. My kick makes me faster because it keeps my legs high in the water (only a light flutter is required to achieve this), not necessarily because the propulsion from my kick is making me go forward. Experiment with a pull buoy. It will float your legs high so you don’t have to rely on your kick to do that. This will help you focus on the front half of your stroke. As you develop this piece of the puzzle, you will become more efficient and take more stress off your kick.
Source of the kick should come from the thighs, not the muscles below the knee. Generating the kick from higher in your legs may help you relax the muscles in your calves and feet – thus minimizing the cramping risks.
Lastly, make sure you are well hydrated, and keep a bottle of Gatorade or sports drink on the pool deck with you during workouts. In this heat, we are at a constant risk for become de-hydrated – so hydration throughout the day is critical to prepare you for your workouts. Also – because we’re in the pool and always wet, it is easy to miss how hard we work and how much fluid (sweat) we can lose during the course of a swim workout.