How to swim faster

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.

Swimmer swimming fast

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.

Body position

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.

Open Water | Training | Health Benefits | Safety | Top Swimming Events

What are Open Water Swimming Events?

With open water races gaining momentum across the world, a large number of people are signing up to take the plunge in open water lakes, canals, rivers and seas. Swimming in places like the english channel is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but is a different ball game altogether as compared to swimming in a pool. Take a look at some of our top tips below

Open water swimming events


The history of open water swimming dates back to 1896 when the modern Olympic Games’ swimming competition was held in open water Bay of Zea. Over the years it seemed to fall out of fashion somewhat, but recently there has been somewhat of a resurgence in this sport and more and more people seem to wanting to try out this exciting sport.


Getting to know Open Waters

Due to harsh weather, water conditions and lower visibility, wild swimming is considerably more challenging when compared to swimming in a clean, maintained pool. Even the most experienced indoor swimmers can find it tough to transition to swimming in an open sea, lake or river. One key difference is that a swimmer has to rely a lot more on their sight and other senses to swim safely in the open waters. In a normal pool the water is a fixed length, width and depth and you very quickly become familiar with your surroundings.

With a lake or river this is not the case - these kinds of things are decided by nature. And because it is beyond our control - the depth, wildlife and other properties of the water can be ever changing. You will need to be aware of where you are to ensure you don't get lost, and be prepared to deal with the nature around you. The first time you go in to lake for example you will have to get used to the temperature of cold water, possible underwater plants, fish, rocks and other objects in the water.

The salinity (how salty the water is) of the water can also take some getting used too. Most swimmers will be accomplished at making sure they do not get any chlorinated water in their mouths or nose, but very salty water can be just as bad and you don't want to coughing or spluttering in the middle of the sea.

After your first time however you will quickly learn to love the outdoor freedom that comes with wild swimming. There are many wonderful places where you can enjoy your hobby and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.


Breathing Technique

There is not a great deal of difference between breathing technique in open water compared to pools - the main difference comes with combating any waves in the water. Waves, be they coming at you or pushing you forward can cause instability in your swimming and can interrupt your breathing pattern. Again this is just something you will learn to adapt to as you do more and more outdoor swimming. You may find however that it is a little easier to breath with open water swimming as most people tend to rotate their strokes a bit more and pop they heads up more often to help keep a track of where they are.


Health Benefits

Swimming is a great workout for those who want to keep up a fitness regime, are looking for a new exercise or if you want to shed some extra pounds. Open water swimming is an effective way to build stamina and muscle as swimmers have to overcome tides and unfavorable water conditions - and once you're out you have to keep going as there is no chance to rest by the side of the pool. Consequently, it improves swimmers' flexibility, focus, endurance and coordination.

Whilst swimming in pools is generally easier to do, as most towns and cities have at least two or three swimming pools you can visit - there are a lot of upsides to outdoor swimming compared to pools. First is the water quality - indoors you are subjected to chlorinated water. Whilst the chlorine levels are accepted to be safe, it is still a toxic poison put in to the water to kill germs -and it also has a nasty effect on your eyes, throat and mouth too. Open water on the other hand is fresh, naturally clean and full of vitamins from the nature around it.

Being outdoors also removes air pollution too - lakes, rivers and seas can be peaceful serene places to relax and enjoy your swim rather than tolerating crowded pools and stuffy air. You will also get to experience a lot more of the place around the water too. Whilst some clubs may make the pool area nice, nothing can beat getting out of the water and seeing green fields or lovely woodland.


Safety Precautions

If you are a new to the sport or a seasoned swimmer, you should take note of the following to keep safe whilst wild swimming:

  • If you are swimming in the sea, try to ensure you never swim without the presence of a lifeguard. Lifeguards patrol beaches for days or months and are familiar with the water conditions and terrain and will be able to assist if you get in to trouble.

  • Be aware of the surroundings, including weather conditions, water depth and temperature, presence of other swimmers, lifeguards, boats, warning signs at the beach, etc.

  • Swim with other people you know - if you get caught in a tide you'll want someone to notice you're missing!

  • If you are caught in a fast-moving river current, do not panic. Remember to breathe. Roll onto your back and then swim ahead once the current loses its intensity.

  • Wear appropriate gear including goggles and a cap.

  • Try to plan your route - you don't want to get to the other side of a lake or river and not know how to get back!  


Top Open Water Swimming Events in 2019

We have chosen the best swimming events taking place in 2019. We have lots more listings available, just click on the 'Open Water Swimming Events' tab at the top of this page to find them.

Great Scottish Swim

With short and long distances available from 0.5 Miles to 10KM this open water swimming event caters for swimmers of all abilities. Taking place at Loch Lomond you are sure to find some great scenery along with fantastic event setup from the renowned event providers Great Swim.

Find out more about the Great Scottish Swim event.


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