Written by: arena coaches
Swimming at the right pace is vital for any swimmer. It does not just allow you to save energy but also to be more efficient throughout the entire forward propulsion phase.
In actual fact, there are not many secrets to be learnt but the key words are balance and arm stroke technique.
In this article, we will try and give you a few tips about how to keep your swim stroke carefully under control so to find a consistent and efficient rhythm and pace.
1. Focus on your position. A vital part of swimming is how your body moves through the water. Even the slightest variation in the position of your head, hips or legs can have a radical effect on the efficiency of your arm stroke.
To improve this aspect, include a few sets wearing a Swim Snorkel in your training. The snorkel will allow you to focus on the position of your head and shoulders, so that you can improve your body position and alignment in the water.
We advise beginning with a few 25 or 50 m reps. One-arm swimming is an excellent freestyle drill. Alternate swimming a lap with your right arm only followed by a lap with your left arm only.
2. Develop a smooth arm stroke. A very common mistake that lots of swimmers make is to think an “alternating” arm stroke, i.e. pausing when your arm is extended in front of you, is the correct kind of stroke. Wrong! A smooth round arm stroke (when swimming the butterfly, backstroke and freestyle) will allow you to move faster through the water.
To work on this aspect, try swimming holding small balls in your hand. You can use two tennis balls or other similar sized balls. Simply swim holding the balls in your hands. This drill might seem rather simple, but it is not: reducing the amount of water you catch and pull will make you feel as if your arms are flailing through space. The real aim of this drill is to get you to focus more closely on your arm movements, making your swim stroke smoother and more cyclic.
Remember: your arm does not pass directly under your body or too far away from it, it is slightly bent as it skims past. Try swimming alternating sets of 50 m holding the balls and 50 m empty-handed.
3. Keep your body balanced. It is vitally important to pay attention to your body position.
Stomach muscles play an extremely important part in helping you maintain the right position.
It is good idea to swim more often with a pullbuoy to improve your arm speed. Using a pullbuoy means you will not have to concentrate on your legs that can just be left to float gently in the water and, most significantly, it can be placed anywhere along your body. As required, you can place it between your ankles, calf muscles or thighs.
Seeing as your stomach muscles and core are crucial for keeping your body balanced, place the pullbuoy between your ankles and try and focus on your swim stroke. Try and lengthen your body to the maximum: imagine extending your head as far forward as possible and stretching your feet behind you. This will help you improve your entire body extension and tighten your core to stabilise your backbone.
Photo credit: Marco Alpozzi /LaPresse