Eggbeatering, Another Open Water Swimming Skill

Eggbeatering, Another Open Water Swimming Skill

In the Pyramid of Open Water Success, one of the seven essential elements of open water swimming preparation is Skills Training.

While Skills Training covers such fundamental skills in the open water as navigation, feeding, sighting, drafting, starts, turns and finishes, it also includes basic skills such as eggbeatering (i.e., treading water) and body surfing, two skills that are often overlooked by open water swimmers and triathletes.

Proper eggbeater allows open water swimmers to rest or stop for feedings and sight over the surface of turbulent water. Instead of bobbing up and down using a modified breaststroke kick or sidekick of sorts, or using your arms to scull back an forth in order to keep your mouth above the surface of the water, using the efficient eggbeater kick is the optimal way to keep your mouth above the water, feed and sight from a vertical, fixed position.

Water polo players and synchronized swimmers know how to position themselves vertically in the water and bend at the waist as they would if sitting in a chair. As your knees are bent, move both feet in circles opposite each other – just like the motion of an eggbeater (hence the name). That is, your left foot should circle clockwise while your right foot rotates counterclockwise.

Your arms can be positioned as is most comfortable to you. If you are feeding or drinking, you can use one hand to scull the water to help keep you afloat. If you are trying to look ahead, you can use both hands to scull and help position yourself higher above the water surface in order to get a good view of your course. As your hands are held out, your elbows are bent with your palms down. Your hands should not be cupped, but rather held flat making quick, movements back and forth in the water.

The eggbeater requires a bit of time, concentration and training to learn and perfect.

You can learn and practice both on land and in the water at a pool.

On land, you can sit in a chair with your buttocks nearly off the seat. Move one foot in a circle in the clockwise direction. Then start to move the other foot also in a circle so both legs are moving simultaneously but the feet at a different position relative to your body (see video below).

Practice a few times on land and then practice frequently in a pool, especially when you are normally hanging on the wall resting between sets.

By eliminating the breaststroke kick motion while you are vertical in the open water, you can avoid surging up and down. If you have problems properly eggbeatering when you first start, try to widen your knees and “draw” a circle with your feet as they rotate. If you keep your feet flat as opposed to pointing your toes, this will creates a stable base and will help you eliminate surging up and down.

To do eggbeater properly, you must have good ankle flexibility – another characteristic of good swimmers. Try to kick down, out and back in towards your body on each rotation. Your lower leg from your knee to your ankle should rotate outside your knee with your toes pointing out. Ideally, your feet are grabbing and pressing against the water, creating the necessary propulsion to keep you afloat.

You can practice eggbeatering when you are normally standing or hanging on the wall of the pool resting between sets. You can also practice eggbeater when you normally kick. Instead of resting your elbows on a standard kickboard during kicking sets, you can “push” the kickboard through the water. Grab the kickboard at the top and bottom and place it vertical (perpendicular to the water surface) in front of you. Push the kickboard through the water to help develop a proper eggbeater ability.

Of course, if you have knee problems and a circular motion of your feet hurts your knees, then keeping afloat by breaststroke kick and your arms is the only way to go. But for those whose knees are still flexible and strong, eggbeatering in the open water is another essential skill of the open water.



The efficiency of one’s eggbeater kick is measured and analyzed by PoloMetrics.

Photo shows Mackenzie Miller properly eggbeatering among the large ocean swells in the Molokai Channel.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source