As you read in Solving the Fundamental Aquatic Problem, floating, balance, and stability are the underlying foundation for effective swimming. And no one talks about it. We’re certainly going to talk about it here. The problem is straight forward and twofold.
You’re slow because you can’t float. Simple, but true. NONE of your energy should be devoted to staying at the surface of the water. ALL of your energy should be devoted towards moving forward. When all of your energy and your movements are directed towards not drowning, there is nothing left to move you forward, let alone with any sort of speed.
To swim fast, you need balance, stability, and comfort in the water. When you can use your lungs to facilitate stability and flotation, you can use your arms and legs to create propulsion. This is what they’re meant to do. Not only will it be much faster, it will be much easier. Unfortunately, most swimmers don’t know how to create stability, and the ones that do are either naturals or swam A LOT as children. You need a short cut.
Fortunately, the solution is easily solved. If you want to swim fast, you need to learn how to find comfort, stability, and balance in the water. You need to know how to float. These are the activities that can help you learn these skills with greater speed than just simply swimming laps.
Float and Balance. You’ll need to practice floating at the surface of the water when you’re not moving. If you’re not moving, you’re much less likely to be able to use your limbs to create balance. The only solution available is to create stability through your torso, exactly where you need it to come from.
Practice floating and balancing in a ball, practice floating and balancing on your stomach with your arms and legs spread, practice floating and balancing in a streamline, and practice floating and balancing while moving between all of the different positions and shapes
Create stability by LEANING into the water
Bob. Simply moving up and down gives you a great sense of the feeling of buoyancy, and how different positions impact how the water supports you. By blowing out your air while bobbing, you’re practicing the rhythmic breathing pattern you’ll need while swimming. You have to be patient and trust the air will always be there for you.
Rhythmically bob up and down in shallow and deep water, with your hands on the wall and without your hands on the wall
Do the same while blowing out your air while descending and grabbing a breath surface
Glide. Gliding is a transition from floating to swimming. You’re adding forward progress and need to manage the differences that this creates as compared to floating in one position.
Push and glide, and as you lose speed, minimize any change in position
Experiment with different positions
Keep LEANING into the water
Swim SLOW. Like riding a bicycle, the slower you go, the more difficult it is to manage your balance and stability. If you can swim very slowly, and do so comfortably. Total control is required for super slow swimming. It’s only possible if you’re able to completely relax.
Kick as slowly as possible, managing position as effortlessly as possible
Swim as slowly as possible, managing position as effortlessly as possible
Getting it Done
All the knowledge in the world is useless if you can’t actually DO something. In some situations, more knowledge is actually the problem as it can overwhelming to determine what to do. This is especially true when you’re presented with novel information. Here’s what to do.
Consistency is Key. While you may see progress fast, you’ll only see transformation over time. This transformation is only possible if you commit to regular practice. Consistency is more important than heroic effort. Think tortoise, not hare.
Commit to small amounts of practice done as often as possible
Creating the habit of action is more important than practicing for large amounts of time
Doing something is more important than what you do
Search for Success. Deciding exactly which exercises to perform can seem challenging. Instead of worrying about picking the ‘right’ exercises, follow these simple suggestions.
Select exercises that allow you to experience success
Work on what you’re good at and work on the exercises you feel are beneficial
Focus on getting BETTER rather than being perfect
Put it all together, and you have a plan for addressing the underlying issue that plagues the vast majority of inexperienced swimmers. Much like a house built on a foundation of sand, it’s impossible to make substantial progress if you can’t find stability in the water. Fortunately, the tools are there if you’re willing to implement them in a disciplined manner.