How to improve your swimming technique

Many athletes spend far too long in the pool swimming an endless number of lengths and wonder why they aren’t getting any faster. Many beginner athletes don’t understand how other swimmers seem to glide effortlessly by them. The reason behind this is that an athlete with good technique will cover more distance for the same (or less) effort.

Swimming technique

Horizontal Body Position

Most swimmers have serious posture defects in the water which causes them to either swim much slower than they are capable of or makes them work much harder to swim at the same speed. When you achieve a horizontal body position, with your body moving smoothly across the top of the water, you have created the effect of swimming through a relatively narrow tube. If you have poor horizontal body position, your legs will be dragging far beneath the surface of the water and the diameter of this body tube becomes much bigger and creates more drag. The main two goals in swimming faster are to minimize or reduce this drag and to maximize propulsion. Instead we are using most of our energy overcoming poor posture in the water and we are not achieving either.

To achieve this horizontal body position, try the following tips:

1)      The centre of your buoyancy is between your armpits. By pushing your head and chest further into the water you will swim in a much more horizontal position. Think of your body as a ball being held under the water, it wants to pop straight out of the water. If you were to hold that ball under the water putting the weight on one side of the ball it will raise the opposite side of the ball up to the surface of the water. It is this effect that you are aiming to achieve with your body.

2)      Maintain a smooth kick. Remember you don’t want your legs to drag and increase the diameter of your “body tube” so by not allowing your legs to fall below the line of your hips, you will reduce the drag.

3)      Become a front quadrant swimmer. The technique for many new swimmers is similar to a windmill, when one arm is under the water the other is out of the water. By leaving your arm stretched out in front of until your finger tips of the other hand are approaching the water you will achieve a longer body position and create less drag. The other benefit is that your two arms and counter-balancing the weight of your legs and this will help you to maintain a horizontal body position.

4)      Swim on your side. By rotating your body along your streamlined axis you will achieve two things. Firstly by rotating you have less of your body dragging through the water. Secondly you are engaging your larger muscles in your lats and chest rather than your weaker muscles in your shoulder joints.

5)      Rotate your head to breathe. You should never lift your head out of the water to breathe, instead rotate your head to the side and allow just one goggle to come out of the water. If you raise your head out of the water then another part of your body needs to be pushed further into the water to counter balance. This creates more drag and makes you less streamlined.

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