A common concern that we hear from recreational swimmers is that they’re not seeing the results they’d like from their sessions, despite swimming perhaps two or three times a week. What this usually comes down to is honing in on your technique so that every time you get in the pool you’re making the most of your efforts.
Improving your swimming technique may feel like a big undertaking at first, but once you understand a bit more about why certain moves work you’ll be surprised at how naturally your body adjusts. It’s all about making small, incremental changes that may not seem like much but will dramatically affect your speed and agility. If you’re serious about improving, it’s best to try changing things one at a time so that you can really focus on it and give it your all.
Ready to find out how to improve your swimming technique? Read on, and you’ll be flying through the water before you know it!
Improving Your Technique
So you’ve been swimming for a while, but are wanting to take things up a notch. Where do you begin? Most people have a basic knowledge of how to swim, but if you’re not paying attention to the correct techniques it’s surprising how much it will affect your progress.
Breathing is one of the things that people find most difficult about swimming, so if you’re a beginner it’s definitely a good idea to get some practice in. See how it feels alternating your breathing on both sides to find out what you’re comfortable with, then when you feel more confident you can start to breathe only on one side.
Get used to timing your breathing so that you’re taking a big breath when your head comes out of the water, then exhaling fully as soon as you go back under. Test it out before you get in the pool so that you can work out the rhythm and how it feels – the key here is to really exhale with force so your lungs are empty enough to get a good inhale.
Most importantly – relax! Once you’ve got the swing of things you won’t even consciously think about your breathing.
If it’s been a long time since your swimming lessons in school, you might need a refresher session in stroke technique.
One of the hardest things to unlearn when it comes to swimming is how you kick. It may feel natural to kick from your knees, but by doing this you’ll tire more easily and put unnecessary strain on your knees. Kick from the hips instead – you’re looking for a long, clean movement that uses the whole of your legs.
Remember that with front crawl the power comes from your arms, shoulders and back. The kick should only be about 20% of your exertion, so you want the motion to be smooth. By simplifying your kick and strengthening the movement, it will be easier to work on your arms.
For each stroke, focus on length rather than speed. You’ll move faster and further if you work on a more powerful glide with your arms, instead of just trying to get them in and out of the water as quickly as possible.
This video gives some really helpful suggestions for improving your front crawl – simple things like the position of your hands and arms as they cut through the water can really affect the speed and ease with which you swim.
If you already have an established workout regime, swimming fits in really well as it gives your muscles a chance to recover while still working them. If you’re looking to make it a part of your regular routine and want to be able to see your distance and energy stats, it might be worth investing in a tracking device – we’ve made a shortlist of our favourite devices here.
You may have heard of or had experience with the weight loss/fitness plateau, where you’re working out at the same level but have stopped seeing results. Interval training is a great way to combat this as it gets your metabolism going faster and it allows you to mix up your workouts more.
To start off, why not try our pyramid intervals workout below at least once a week alongside your usual strength and cardio sessions to start really seeing results.
Breaststroke 8 lengths at an easy pace
Intervals (with 10-30 second rest between each leg)
Front crawl 8 lengths at a slow place
Front crawl 8 lengths at a medium pace
Front crawl 6 lengths at a fast pace – 80% of your exertion
Front crawl 8 lengths at a medium pace
Front crawl 8 lengths at a slow pace
Breaststroke 4 lengths at an easy pace
Backstroke 4 lengths at an easy pace
With these three methods, you should start to see an improvement in your swimming technique – giving you greater results and greater enjoyment in the pool!
Interested in getting more swimming tips? Make sure you sign up to our newsletter for all the latest information, and you’ll go from beginner to pro in no time.