As well as ensuring you have a high-quality swimming wetsuit that reduces extra drag, there are plenty of small tweaks you can make to your swim technique which should reduce misused energy and knock time off your PB.
As established wetsuit providers for open water swimmers, we explain how to improve your front crawl with some essential advice. We have focussed on the front crawl as it generally is the favoured stroke of open water swimmers, but these techniques can also be used in the pool.
The Importance of Being Streamline
In short, the more streamline you are, the easier it is to glide through the water, which has two immediate benefits. Firstly, it makes the stroke quicker and secondly, it will reduce energy wasted meaning you are more likely to preserve energy and lengthen your time in the water.
Below, we take a look at other areas of the body to review and how to ensure you are swimming with power while preventing the waste of energy.
Understand Where Your Arms and Hands Should be Facing
In front crawl, your arms are integral to pulling you through the water. The motion should be continuous and steady with arms equally alternating in the water.
Take a look at these tips to ensure you are correctly swimming front crawl with your arms and hands:
• Hands should enter the water with your little finger first with fingers remaining together throughout the stroke to increase surface area.
• Keep palms facing down when in the water.
• Ensure to fully stretch your hand out before catching and pulling the water.
Use Your Core to Paddle with Your Arms
To ensure you are gaining maximum reach through your arm strokes, it is essential that you fully engage your shoulder muscles and your core.
Therefore, try to extend your reach by rotating from your core instead of only using your shoulder. By doing this, it gives you the extra length when paddling, which helps you to stretch your body.
Avoid crossing over the centre line when you complete each stroke as it will cause you to over rotate. In turn, you will ‘snake’ in and out of the water. Instead, keep your arms in line with your shoulder and rotate from the core in a steady motion.
Understand How to Position Your Head
Keep your head still and at a 45-degree angle when swimming. Some people think that directly angling your head beneath you is helpful to create a streamlined shape, but this, in fact, throws off the positioning of your body. Furthermore, it is also important not to raise your head too high; too much strain on the neck is uncomfortable and will only reduce the efficiency of your swimming.
An excellent way to mark the position of your head is to ensure the water level is between your hairline and your eyebrows.
Adjust Your Lower Body
Your whole body should remain flat throughout the swim. The easiest way to keep an eye on this is to try and keep yourself parallel to the water.
Your lower back should be positioned just under the surface of the water to ensure your body isn’t too low or too high, which will negatively impact your performance.
By having a solid and still body, it should be easier to turn your attention to your arm and leg movements.
Focus on Your Breathing
Breathing is often an underrated part of the exercise, but it is integral to your performance. Breathing is an aspect of swimming which requires extra attention in comparison to other sports. Catching the breath without interrupting your flow can dramatically enhance your technique.
Ideally, you want to alternate your breathing between every three strokes, meaning you take a breath at the opposite side each time.
A useful way to maintain enough oxygen intake during each breath is to have your cheek on the water surface and place your ear on your shoulder.
Another way to ensure you are not overextending your head and overexerting yourself is to look across the waterline and not directly up to the sky or the roof if indoors.
Finally, you can check yourself by keeping one eye in the water and the other eye out of the water when you take a breath.
A key aspect of being streamline is to ensure your legs and feet are not dragging and are, instead, remaining in line with your core and arms. Try to keep your heels just above the surface level of water when kicking to avoid your body being too low.
To ensure you are correctly kicking, follow these tips:
• Ideally, you need your ankles to be as loose and relaxed as possible to ensure you are flowing freely in the water.
• One arm pull should equate to six alternate leg kicks for balance.
• Leg kicks should derive from your hips and not your knees as knee kicks will slow you down.
• Try to position your legs close together to reduce extra drag in the water.
Train, Train, Train!
You know the saying; practice makes perfect, and the only way to truly improve your technique is to keep on training. The more often you do it, the more familiar you will become with the positions required. Furthermore, it is great to have an extra pair of eyes on you to ensure you are doing it correctly, so try and have an experienced friend with you as you start.
Hopefully, we have helped you on the road to improvement by covering some of the most basic techniques to enhance your swimming. Why not give them a go and let us know how you get on? We would love to hear about your success and any other tips you learn along the way on our social media channels!