Basic Swimming Technique
People often say to me ‘you make swimming look so easy’, the other typical comment I hear is ‘I am doing all this training but my speed is not increasing’. In answer to the first comment I make it look easy because I have put in the practice and I was lucky enough to have coaches over the years who knew that technique training is just as important as fitness training. In answer to the second I would say cut down on the fitness focus for a while and focus on technique; improve technique and the speed will come naturally.
The basic principles of swimming technique are not difficult to learn, the hardest part is implementation. Swimming is one of those difficult sports where you cannot see exactly what you are doing and what you imagine is happening with your arms on recovery or entry is quite often very different from the reality. It is important to firstly understand what good swim technique should look like and then learn this yourself and finally it is a matter of practice upon more practice. The ultimate goal is to have good technique ‘imprinted’ autonomously into your nervous system so you can swim without thinking about it. Achieving this level means you too will now be able to make swimming look easy!
The basics of good crawl or freestyle technique; the arm recovery; key aspects are high elbow, relaxed forearm, arm fairly close to body to ensure high elbow and help to induce shoulder rotation. The entry; hand smoothly entering the water at approximately 2/3 arm extension with thumb slightly down to help maintain arm position, continue arm extension as it enters the water, once arm is in the water use analogy ‘reaching over a barrel’. The pull; maintain the high elbow position using force of hand and forearm to generate forward movement.
When I deliver my one 2 one swim sessions I cover the above in great detail. I also teach people how they can self critique their own swimming to ensure proper technique. Once you understand what good technique should look like it is important to practice it consistently and regularly. By understanding the fundamentals the need to have a coach present for all your technique swims is removed, but it does help to have regular visits with a coach to continue refining and improving.
The next step for an improving swimmer and the best way to improve efficiency and speed in the water is to reduce the stroke rate and increase the stroke length. We do this by refining all points of the arm cycle in the crawl as detailed in the above paragraph and we measure it by counting the number of strokes we take each lap versus the time taken for the lap; the idea being that you will be able to maintain the same lap time but achieve it with less arm strokes.
As always contact me if you have further questions or comments. Happy swimming. Dan