Are you trying to improve your swimming speed, maybe for a swimming event or triathlon? If you are having trouble trying to improve your technique it can start to feel a bit like you’re treading water! Contrary to what some might think, moving your arms and legs faster when you’re in the water won’t necessarily make you move any faster, but it will make you tired. As is the case with perfecting any skill, practice makes perfect. To get you off to a flying start we’ve compiled some tips for how you can increase your speed and improve your swimming technique.
Improving your technique
The best way to start moving through the water at greater speed is to perfect your technique, becoming more streamlined and reducing the amount of water resistance created when you move. The most effective way to do this is to work on your body’s position in the water, which will not only minimise water resistance, but also allow you to more effectively utilise your core strength to power you through the water.
You can improve your front crawl speed and minimise water resistance by aiming to keep your body horizontal and keeping your hips closer to the water’s surface. Engaging your core muscles will help you to keep your spine straight as you move through the water. You can also try lowering the position of your head, not enough to be totally submerged, but so that you are looking down as opposed to straight ahead.
Similarly to swim the breaststroke or butterfly stroke more effectively, you will need to maintain a streamlined body position, but there will be a few differences to the technique used for the front crawl. For breaststroke, you should still aim to keep a horizontal position, but allow your hips to drop slightly, with your legs behind the rest of your body, not below. For butterfly, try to keep your hips and shoulders horizontal and your body as close to the surface as the water as possible.
Kicks and strokes
In addition to perfecting your body position, you’ll want to master those kicks and strokes to push you through the water faster. As most of your momentum when you swim comes from your arms, you’ll want to focus your strength on your arm pulls. Use less energy by doing fewer kicks within your stroke cycle; fewer, more precise kicks will propel you more effectively than lots of kicks that break the water’s surface.
If you are doing sprints of underwater swimming, incorporating a dolphin kick into your technique can help you move faster whilst underwater, especially when pushing off a wall. For breaststroke, where you are moving your legs out in a more circular motion, work on syncing up your timings so that your arms and legs are working together.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see immediate improvements in your swimming times, as it can take time to see progress once you start making changes to your technique. Following a consistent training plan can help you to stay on track and avoid slipping into bad habits, as well as being a great way to enjoy regular exercise and burn some calories.