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How To Swim Faster : Everything You Need To Know

Lady learning swimming technique

Swimming efficiently and at a faster than average speed requires an in-depth understanding of the sport, the training involved and the right mindset. Whether you’re looking to compete at a higher level or simply wish to improve your personal best, diving into the details of how to swim faster is essential.

Let’s break down the components of speed swimming.

The Importance of Technique

swimming technique body position

Body Positioning

Achieving a streamlined position in the water minimises drag and maximises speed. This involves extending your body to its fullest, keeping your head down in alignment with your spine and maintaining a horizontal position.

Your hips and legs should stay high in the water to prevent drag. Small adjustments help in the search for how to swim faster, such as tightening your core and pointing your toes, can have a substantial impact on your overall efficiency.

Stroke Efficiency

Each stroke has unique elements that, when optimised, can significantly enhance your swimming speed. For instance, in freestyle, a key factor is the length of each stroke. Swimmers are advised to reach as far forward as possible before catching the water and pushing it behind them, maximising propulsion.

Efficient stroke technique also includes minimising unnecessary movements that cause drag, such as excessive kicking or lateral movements.

Breathing Techniques

OK, so now hopefully you are starting to answer a few of your questions on how to swim faster. Let’s carry on..

Efficient breathing is integral to maintaining speed and endurance. In freestyle, for example, swimmers should practise turning their head minimally to the side to take a breath without lifting it completely out of the water, as this disrupts the body’s streamlined position. Developing a rhythmic breathing pattern that synchronises with your stroke cycle is crucial. Training to breathe on both sides (bilateral breathing) can improve balance and symmetry in your stroke, preventing muscle imbalances and ensuring even propulsion.

The Role of Conditioning

Male athlete swimming in breaststroke

Core Strength

A strong core is vital for swimmers, as it connects the power of the arms and legs, maintains stability and balance in the water, and supports efficient stroke techniques.

Exercises
such as planks, Russian twists, and leg raises strengthen the core muscles and improve swimming posture and power.

Endurance and Sprint Training


Endurance training
involves longer swimming sessions at a moderate pace to build cardiovascular capacity, while sprint training focuses on short, intense bursts to improve speed and power. Both are important for competitive swimming. Mixing endurance swims with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in the pool can help develop a swimmer’s ability to sustain high speeds over distance and improve overall performance.

Dry Land Training


Dry land swimming training
complements pool work by building the strength, flexibility, and endurance needed for faster swimming. Resistance training, focusing on the muscles most used during swimming (shoulders, back, chest, arms, core, and legs), enhances power and efficiency in the water. Incorporating plyometrics can improve explosive power for starts and turns, while yoga and stretching routines enhance flexibility and range of motion.

Advanced Techniques for Faster Swimming

Male Swimmer Swimming using Front Crawl

Streamlining and Turns

Mastering starts and turns can lead to significant time savings in races. The goal is to minimise resistance and maximise propulsion during these critical phases. Practising the streamline position off walls, focusing on tucking tightly and pushing off with powerful leg drive, can drastically improve turn efficiency.

Stroke-Specific Drills

To refine technique and efficiency in all strokes, swimmers should incorporate stroke-specific drills into their training. These drills break down the stroke into parts, allowing the swimmer to focus on improving specific elements, such as arm entry, kick technique, or body rotation, leading to overall improvements in speed and efficiency.

Equipment and Technology

Women using swim paddles while swimming in a pool

High-Tech Swimwear

Modern swimwear is designed to compress the body, reducing drag and enhancing buoyancy. The fabric technology is also engineered to repel water, further reducing resistance. While these suits offer performance benefits, they are most effective when combined with optimal swimming technique.

Swimming Aids

Paddles, fins, and snorkels are examples of swimming aids that target specific aspects of swimming performance. Paddles increase resistance, strengthening the upper body and improving stroke technique. Fins enhance leg strength and propulsion, while snorkels allow swimmers to focus on stroke technique without the interruption of turning the head to breathe.

Mental Preparation and Strategy

Goal Setting and Visualization

Setting realistic, yet challenging goals is important for motivation and progress. Visualisation techniques, where swimmers imagine themselves performing perfectly and achieving their goals, can enhance mental readiness and confidence.

Race Strategy

Understanding the dynamics of race pacing is crucial. Swimmers should develop strategies based on their strengths and the distances they compete in, whether it involves going out fast and holding on, or building speed throughout the race. Awareness of competitors and the ability to adapt strategy mid-race can also be advantageous.

Conclusion

Swimming faster is a complex but achievable goal that requires attention to technique, physical conditioning, mental preparation, and the use of the right equipment. By meticulously working on each aspect of swimming, from the fundamentals of stroke efficiency and body positioning to the nuances of race strategy and mental toughness, swimmers can unlock new levels of speed and performance. Remember, consistent effort, patience, and a willingness to learn and adapt are key components of success in the water.

by Alistair Mills

In 2016 I saw an opportunity for a new swimming company that did things a little bit differently and here we are almost 4 years later, having built a family of teachers and clients that we are all really proud of.

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