A good stroke doesn’t just happen; And a poor stroke doesn’t just correct itself. You had better believe that elite level swimmers spend hours upon hours in the pool every week to tweak their stroke and maintain their competitive edge. But what if you’re just an occasional competitor with potential to improve? If you’re a weekend triathlete, part-time fitness swimmer, or just someone who appreciates a swim well done, read on for 4 quick tips to help you become a better swimmer.
Become a Better Swimmer in 4 Simple Steps
#1 Practice Like You Mean It
There’s no use hitting the pool if your heart isn’t set on working out. To get the most out of your time in the water, make sure that you’re mentally and physically fired up. Whether it takes self-bribery, visualization, or some powerful house music, do whatever it takes to get into an enthusiastic state of mind. Practicing with your heart in it will help you make the most out of every stroke.
#2 Slow it Down
Though it might sound contrary to your workout goals, swimming slower can actually help you become a better swimmer, faster. This is because slow swimming helps you pinpoint your technical flaws. By taking the time to thoroughly examine your catch, pull, kick, rotation, and alignment, you can correct each far more easily. Also, because your body will be thrown off balance at slower speeds, you’ll have to work harder to maintain your streamline, keeping every weak spot at the forefront of your mind.
#3 Pull With Your Body (& Give Your Arms a Rest)
As you slow things down, make this next tip a primary focus. Instead of using just your arms to pull through the water, make sure that you’re engaging your shoulders, upper back, and core. Imagine climbing a rock wall with nothing but your arms. It’s silly to imagine, and nearly impossible to do. If the abs, shoulders, and back are allowed to bear some of the burden, you’ll reach the top much more quickly and efficiently. Swimming is exactly the same (except you’re face-down in a liquid). Not only will this technique help relieve your arms, but it can improve distance per stroke and split times.
#4 Haste Makes Waste
Most novice swimmers assume that the faster they flail their arms and the bigger they kick their legs, the quicker they’ll move through the water. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, put your stroke’s length over speedy movements. By allowing an extra second or two after each arm’s recovery (depending on how fast you’re swimming), you’ll maximize your distance per stroke (DPS). Make sure you’re in a streamline position for this glide or you’ll be wasting your efforts. Also, keep your kick small and your feet close together. Once mastered, you’ll be able to cover greater distances with less fatigue with an extended DPS.