Today, Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Perfecting Your Swimming Technique

Perfecting Your Swimming Technique

Your swimming technique plays a key role in improving performance and avoiding injury. Despite its importance, many swimmers do not realize they are using poor techniques. To prevent the frustration of stagnate results; you should learn all you can about the various strokes, including breathing patterns. Following easy instructions will help you stay healthy and achieve your goals much faster.

The Crawl

The most popular swimming stroke is the crawl; sometimes referred to as freestyle. It is also known to be the easiest for beginners to learn. While doing the crawl, your arms are moved in a rotating motion like a windmill. Each arm needs to be fully extended in order to swim in a straight line. Equal force should be used and your arms form an “S” pattern under water. Hands and wrists are relaxed; the hands are also cupped.

Your legs kick in a fluttering motion and your knees remain slightly bent for the crawl. Keep your ankles and feet relaxed. To propel even more, kick in a downward motion. Breathing is very important; focus on turning your head to the opposite side of every stroke and breathe. Lift your nose just off of the water to allow for proper air flow. Remember that lifting your entire head will slow you down considerably. You can take one breath or several, depending on what feels natural, and exhale through your nose and mouth as you turn your head back into the water. Repeat the process by turning your head with the strokes and breathe on the other side.

The Backstroke

Also popular, the backstroke is similar to the crawl, except it is performed floating on your back. Alternate your arms in rotating fashion with equal force. If the amount of force used is unequal, you will start veering off to one side. Roll your body from one side to the other, extending your arms accordingly. Your hands are cupped; the thumb should appear first out of the water. As with the crawl, form the “S” pattern under water.

With bent knees, move your legs rapidly in a fluctuating motion. The major difference between the backstroke and the crawl is that during the backstroke, your legs are kicking upward; ankles and feet remain relaxed. Keep your head above water, facing up. Practice breathing in a comfortable pattern; there are no strict breathing guidelines for the backstroke.

The Breaststroke

The breaststroke is a more advanced swimming technique that is used during competitions. Please do not attempt this stroke as a beginner; it needs strength build up. Exact timing is crucial since missing even a single stroke may slow the swimmer down enough to disqualify from a competition. The basic movement involves bobbing up, breathing and gliding forward as you bob down.

At the start of the breast stroke, keep your arms overhead. Throughout the movement, bring them to your chest as if you are pulling on the water. Finish by returning your arms to the starting position. Your hands should be cupped the entire time. Bring your knees up to your chest; thrusting your legs straight out behind you. Snap your legs together as if you were performing a frog kick. This will help propel you and push the water as you go. Breathe consistently with each arm stroke.

The Butterfly

Strength and timing are required for the butterfly, making it an advanced technique. The arms are moved simultaneously as you pull the water; hands are cupped. Keep your palms facing outward while moving them in both outward and downward motion. Swinging your arms thoroughly, you complete the butterfly when they are above water.

Your knees remain slightly bent and together. As the movement progresses, they are propelled downward. At this point, your feet are whipping downward in unison. A good tip for performing the butterfly is to mimic a dolphin’s tail with your legs. Two kicking movements should be made for every arm stroke. Take a breath upon completing each arm stroke as well.

Swim from the hip

The next time you are watching a baseball game, notice the way they swing a bat. Home run hitters wisely use the power in their hips to gain momentum. The same philosophy can be applied to each swimming technique. By emphasizing hip movement, you will increase strength and speed. But, it is not as easy as it may sound.

Begin by twisting to one side with each stroke. Position your belly button to a side of the pool in coordination with your arm strokes. For example, point your right hip towards the bottom as your right hand enters the water. Although your pelvis will feel as though it is perpendicular to the water, your body is only turned 60 degrees. Continue rotating your hips to the opposite side of every stroke and extend your arms fully.

Some experts recommend counting strokes to measure progress. Aim for an average of 20 strokes for every 25 yards you swim. As you develop your skills, try to increase the distance, while keeping the average number of strokes the same. When you are learning any new technique, it is highly advised to start out with small distances. Mastering the technique on short laps is much better than performing it inefficiently on long distance laps.


Stretching causes muscle fibers to lengthen. As you exercise, each muscle produces lactate which shortens the fibers. This means that they contract and fatigue sets in. So, it makes sense that when you start out with longer muscle fibers, you will tire less during your swimming exercises. Whenever you do any stretching, use even movements; do not be overly aggressive.

Touching your toes will stretch out the hamstrings, one leg at a time. Splits are a great warm-up exercise; practice with chairs first before moving to the ground. Stretch your back by lying on the ground in a push-up position. Leaving your hips and stomach pressed on the floor, slowly bring your shoulders up; creating an arch.

Another stretching exercise is to establish support by holding a pole while standing on one leg. Pull the other foot forward with your free hand and contract the quadriceps. Release after about 4 to 5 seconds. Repeat multiple times while alternating legs. The lotus is done sitting on the ground, gripping your feet with both hands. As you pull your feet inward, gently press outward with the inside of your knees. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and relax.

Since there are a variety of different stretching exercises, you can divide them into groups and vary the ones you do each day. It is good to focus on the same stretches for a week and then switch to different ones the following week. Whatever system works for you, be sure to include stretching in your pre-swim routine. It is a definite way to enhance your swimming technique and reach maximum potential.

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