If pulling is the most popular point of intervention, and kicking is an afterthought, it’s possible you never even considered work on your alignment.
However, if there is one skill when mastered that can enhance your performance more than any other, it’s achieving a Streamlined Body Posture.
In freestyle, streamlining throughout the stroke is characterized by a straight spine, and you need to learn to remove any undesirable movements that cause the spine to bend.
There are 3 major obstacles to achieving optimal alignment.
We’ll discuss what those obstacles are, and the solutions to these issues below.
Swim downhill and stay tight. Many swimmers tend to swim with the head up and the feet low, hence the term swimming uphill.
You can learn to reduce this effect by keeping the head down, pressing your lungs into the water, and creating a sensation of swimming ‘downhill’.
It’s also possible to be level in the water, yet ‘sagging’ in the middle of your torso by arching your spine.
The key here is to make sure your torso stays tight when swimming downhill, and your spine should stay into alignment.
Clean up your arm recoveries. A common fault is when the hips are wiggling side to side and you lose lateral alignment.
This can be caused by low and wide arm recoveries, or when each arm is doing something very different.
You’ve probably seen the resultant wiggle.
The goal is then to find recoveries that minimize this effect by recovering the arms higher over the surface, ensuring that both arms are performing the same action, or by including more bend in the elbows.
Hide your breathing.
Any excessive head motion will cause a reaction somewhere in your body.
If your head is lifted too high to breathe, your hips will sink.
If your head is pulled to the side, your hips will shift laterally to compensate.
Swimmers who consistently breathe late, or return the breath late, will be disrupting their body line in doing so.
Your key goal is to minimize the length of breath and how much the head moves to breathe, while still ensuring you get oxygen.
Less is more.
If there is one exercise that solves more problems than any other, it’s Paddle Cap Freestyle.
It’s wonderfully simple- put a paddle on your cap, swim, and don’t let the paddle come off.
The only way to successfully keep the paddle on your head is to swim straight and keep your spine straight.
You’ll get instant feedback as whether your maintaining solid alignment, particularly throughout your breathing.