In part I, we explored the importance of gaining comfort, stability, and balance in the water. Once you do have a sense of comfort, it’s time to get to work on your freestyle. Here’s how.
1. Position. How your body moves through the water determines how fast you’ll swim more than any other factor. Just a like a speed boat, you want your body to move straight through the water.
While improving your balance in the water will naturally improve your position, it’s valuable to specifically address these issues. Most swimmers have little sense of how they’re moving through the water.
The following exercises will help you gain a better appreciation for how you’re moving through the water. With a better appreciation, you can create change.
These two exercises improve awareness of the same issue, one while kicking and the other while swimming. Watch the links to for a full demonstration and explanation.
The idea is to experience the full spectrum of horizontal body positions so that you can determine what will work best for you.
Most swimmers will need to lower their head and chest in the water to get their hips up.
If you don’t swim straight, the paddle is not going to stay on your head.
If you’re moving your head out of alignment to breath, the paddle is not going to stay on your head.
The body goes where the head goes, so keeping your head in line is critical for great body position.
2. Piston. Once you’re moving straight through the water, it’s critical to learn how to best time the rotation of your body with the actions of your arms. The rotation exists to help you more easily recover your arms, as well as enhance your pull by placing your arms in stronger positions.
Contrary to popular belief, great rotation is not about how much rotation.
It’s about great timing.
The following exercises are designed to help you feel the appropriate timing of the arms and the body rotation.
The first exercise (SABE) will help you feel a full body rotation and the second exercise will help you feel a rotation that comes more from the shoulders.
Either can be appropriate depending on what is most comfortable for you. Practice alternating the exercise with regular freestyle to experience great timing.
3. Pressure. The arm pull in freestyle is needlessly complicated by many coaches and swimmers.
Get you hand deeper than the elbow, keep your elbow wider than your hand, and pull straight back. This is where you’ll be your most powerful.
You can practice this skill with the following two exercises. Watch the videos for a demonstration and explanation.
Alternate between these exercises and regular freestyle, aiming to create the same sensations on your arms while pulling.
Wrapping It Up
While freestyle may not be easy, it is simple.
As described in part I, you first need to be completely comfortable in the water at ANY speed. As you make progress with this skill, it’s time to start working on the specifics of freestyle.
Make sure your body is in line, learn how to create a powerful piston with great timing, and create pressure with an effective arm pull.
Keep it simple, and you’ll be well on your way to faster swimming.