I know what you mean, but it is clear from shots of Shelley swimming freestyle 2-beat - that she has a great high elbow catch, and her kicks come at optimal times in relation to water entry of the recovered arms.The entry of a recovered arm into the water is bound to cause drag, so it is best to offset that by doing a well-timed kick! I suspect that most of Shelley's movement is due to effective arm action - a "front-ender"?
I agree that it does appear likely that leaving the legs apart in between kicks will cause unwanted drag, and in that context I would make the following observations
At the pool I used to use several years ago, there was a seemingly good free-styler, who at that time, I could never "out-do" (he had a greater APE index than little me anyway!)
, I admired his EVF catch etc, but the surprising thing to me, was that he never
flutter kicked, he just dragged his legs behind him with his heels maybe 8" below the surface, with feet vaguely waving around slowly a few inches apart in time with his body roll. He was definitely of the "Arnie" type build, and I reckon was more concerned with building up his "superstructure", never mind the legs! I quizzed him about that, saying what a waste - 'cos he could skim along if he kicked - but he just grinned and shrugged it off.
My other observation is also of the "no explicit kicking" kind. I have the misfortune to have inflexible feet/ankles, and low buoyancy issues (partly solved by wearing buoyancy shorts to keep the legs from sinking). My flutter kicking is "rubbish" unless I ... EITHER
Introduce a bit more knee bend than SS would approve of, for each kick downbeat (that brings the sole of the foot more horizontal, at a better "angle of attack" for the instep on the kick downbeat, and also presents the shin in a more "backward-facing" attitude (like Morozov does!) than is possible when kicking with fairly straight legs - which IMO is only effective if one has flexible ankles/flappy feet) ...
Flutter kick so that the amplitude between the legs at widest extent is fairly small - then the awkward feet don't protrude into the water flow beneath the body so much, and produce less drag. But I took this idea a stage further
- by leaving the legs completely relaxed and each time a recovered arm enters the water I quickly thrust the hip downwards on the same side as the entering arm. The effect of this, is to send a sort of shallow ripple down the leg on that (now) stroking arm side - rather like picking up a loose rope lying along the floor and giving it a quick shake to send a ripple down it. The quick hip flick or thrust downwards on the entering arm side is in accordance with Maglischo's mantra "Roll towards the arm going down and roll away from the arm coming up!". The vigorous body roll and hip action are done in unison
, so instead of a kicking action there is actually a bit of undulation, the hip goes down and the lower leg/foot rise up then as the body rolls away from the stroking arm for the up=sweep to the surface, the hip moves in the other direction and the lower leg/foot wave down (mini-kick?). I haven't "sussed-out" yet what the other leg does in between this hip flick action, but hopefully it stays fairly close to the other one! ( I have a confession to make about this "hip flick" business - I found that I was moving my shoulders too vigorously with body roll - first one way then the other, so I tried doing it only for my inhalation side - and was surprised to find it didn't drop movement rate much!). Try this idea and see what you think about it - I've asked other forum bods - but no one has commented on it yet.
Bye / Don