Improving Swimming Technique
While swimming is a great sport, for many it does not come naturally, and learning how to swim efficiently requires time and commitment on the part of the individual, as well as the development of stamina and coordination.
If you want to improve your swimming ability or you need some extra tips to take your swimming to the next level, look to the common approaches for improving swimming technique I have listed below. Employing these approaches will guarantee your improved fitness and speed in the pool.
- Swim frequently – your improvement will be accelerated as you gain a better feel for the water and as you develop your technique on a consistent basis.
- Develop an exercise plan to help meet your lifestyle, fitness, competition or cross training goals – design your own workouts to include an adequate warm up, main set and swim down. The Internet is a great tool for ideas or programs, and a training diary can be maintained to record your progress.
- Intensify your program – as your fitness and technique improves over time you should increase the distance or intensity of the program and decrease the intervals of rest you have between laps/sets.
- Take it easy – not every workout needs to be intense. Enjoy a more relaxing swim when you are feeling low, of when a challenging workout is not viable or recovery is necessary.
- Using aids – aids can be used to break up your program and to help achieve a stronger kick strength, or better range of motion or body position. Such aids include flippers, kickboard, pull buoy and hand paddles.
- Equipment comfort – be sure to wear comfortable swimmers and appropriate goggles and swim cap. Swimming is made much easier without the interruption of goggle strap or cap adjustment.
- Swim with a friend or join a swim squad if possible. This can provide added motivation, and can be a source of tips for stroke technique and varied programs, as well as a source of input/feedback that you would not otherwise receive while swimming independently
- Challenge yourself – present a challenge to yourself to swim with good technique at various speeds during a swim session. The better your technique when swimming at fast speed, the less energy you will waste.
- Variation – vary the swimming drills used in your workout. Do this to assist in refining your technique and to reinforce good swimming skills.
- Streamlining – a streamlined body is the key to efficiency! Any opportunity to reduce the water resistance acting against your forward motion will decrease the energy you expend, and will increase your speed. Streamlining means the maintenance of a neutral head position, and keeping your head, shoulders, hips and feet at the surface of the water for the purpose of minimizing resistance.
- Remember to relax and breathe! Holding your breath too long will cause fatigue. Exhale slowly during the period your face is in the water so that you can inhale easily during your body roll. Don’t lift your head to breathe as this causes the body position to droop.
- Efficiency – increase your efficiency by stretching out your stroke as much as possible without pausing. Count how many arm strokes it takes you to complete 1 lap, then repeat and try to reduce or maintain that number each lap.
- Strong kick – a strong kick will keep your legs from sinking behind you. Legs should be kept straight, but not rigid, and kicking should be continuous and from the hip. Your kick should not make a splash, but rather churn or bubble the surface of the water.
- Cupping hands – your hands should be cupped with fingers slightly apart as they are pulled through the water. To maximize your ‘feel’ for the water, swim with your hands held in a fist. Then, after a lap, resume the regular hand position – you will feel more pressure and an enhanced awareness of the water on your hand and forearm.
- Competition – if you are already “swim-fit”, why not try competing as a motivation for further developing your fitness? Find a swim meets that interest you, and choose a race based on your preference and ability.
Swimming is a year-round activity that anyone from any walk of life can partake of, and is an activity that affords its participants the lifelong benefits of health and well being. As with any new exercise, swimmers should have their health assessed by their GP before donning their swimwear and heading down to their nearest pool.
If you are looking for a place to practice your swimming technique, Hampton Swim School offers adult swimming lessons.
© 2010 Julia Ham/Hampton Swim School Pty Ltd