You’ve likely seen a swimmer really struggling in the water. They seemed to fight the water every stroke. You may even know EXACTLY what that feels like because that swimmer is often you.
This can be a very frustrating experience as it seems that no matter what changes you try to implement, you never lose that sense of struggle.
The bad news is that if you continue looking for the secrets of freestyle, you’ll never going to address the underlying problem. The good news is that I’ll show you what that underlying problem is, and what to do about.
It comes down to comfort, balance, and stability. The lungs are our source of flotation, and trusting the lungs to do their job is how we find comfort in the water. If you’re struggling in the water, it’s because you’re not using your lungs effectively.
Without the buoyancy provided by your lungs, you’d sink to the bottom of the whatever body of water you’re in. If you don’t believe that, blow out all of your air and THEN try to swim. You’ll see how fast you sink.
Your lungs are just like a life preserver, just not nearly as buoyant. When you learn to use them correctly, you’ll find a new sense of ease in the water.
To improve your sense of comfort, balance, and stability, you need to work on it directly. Unfortunately, regular swimming is unlikely to improve these skills, nor will typical stroke drills. You need to work on specific exercises designed to improve these specific skills.
Here are some exercises that work.
Ball Float- Anyone can execute this exercise and it is proof that you can find comfort and stability while floating. Return here whenever you’re struggling.
Jellyfish Float- Just like the ball float, except you’ll let your limbs dangle. Getting comfortable in this position should again reinforce your ability to float.
X Float- You’ll now aim to balance while in a full horizontal position. Finding stability is less important than being perfectly horizontal.
Slow Forward Motion- Now, take your horizontal position and start to add a touch of forward motion. The goal is to go as SLOW as possible, with as little effort as possible. LIGHT kicks!
Super Slow Swimming- Just like above, now you’ll add full stroke freestyle. Don’t worry as much about the specific skills of freestyle, simply aim to move forward as slowly and easily as possible.
For more background information, as well as many more exercises, check out the free guide here.
Once you manage to find a sense of comfort, balance, and stability, you can work on the basics fundamentals of freestyle that will help you swim faster. However, all of the specific technical work in the world won’t be effective until you learn to manage yourself in the water. In part II, we’ll get into the critical skills of freestyle.