4 Drills to nail to become a better and faster swimmer

We've all had an unwanted break from swimming due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but let's take this opportunity to come back better and stronger than ever! Hopefully you will be able to jump back in your local pool soon and to help with this I've been sharing some blogs with you about what we're all looking forward to and what not to do when getting back in the pool. The one thing that we should all do is go back to the basics of swimming and nail these 4 drills to become better and faster than before.


Most people new to swimming have no idea how technical swimming really is. There is so much to think about and trying to do this while holding your breath is a big challenge for anyone new to the sport.


But even for the more seasoned swimmers there is always something we can improve on. After coaching adult swimmers of all different levels the biggest upgrades to our stroke mostly seems to come from these 4 basic body positioning drills. If you can get these basic drills right so many other elements of your stroke will feel so much easier and you will easily shave some time of your PB's.


Does this tickle your fancy? Let's dive right in!


1. Body position kick with arms next to you

A good body position (horizontal and high up) makes it so much easier to get through the water. By dragging your legs underneath you, even just slightly, you make life much harder for yourself. A poor body position also affects many other aspects of your stroke. If you have issues with breathing or the catch, just to name a couple, chances you can fix this by improving your body position.


Push off from the wall with your arms next to your body and kick to move yourself forward. Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine, look straight down the bottom of the pool and relax your shoulders. By leaning forward on your chest (your lungs are a big air bubble) you should feel your hips and legs coming up. Don't kick hard to keep your legs up, this is cheating, they should stay up because you're leaning forward.


If you do all if this right you should have a perfectly horizontal body position nice and high up in the water. The upper part of your back should come just out of the water and your heals should be breaking the water when kicking.


Swim toys to make it easier: fins, snorkel



2. Rotating body position kick with arms next to you

This drill is similar to the one above, but we are now adding rotation. Rotation is very important in swimming as this helps you to easily get your arms out of the water for the recovery phase of your stroke and when used right it increases the strength of your pull through the water.


Start the same as in the drill above and when you feel like your body position is good, start rotating your body from side to side by pushing your hip down on one side and the other, about 2 seconds in between. Don't move your head from side to side with your body, instead keep looking straight down the pool. Keep leaning forward on your chest and shoulders while rotation to not compensate your perfect body position.

As in the first drill your heals should break the water when kicking and your back should be just out of the water (with your shoulders popping down when rotating).


Swim toys to make it easier: fins, snorkel



3. Body position kick with arms in front

When we swim freestyle we never have both arms next to our body at the same time as this is not a streamlined position. By having your arms out in front you create extra leverage to keep your legs up high, this is only the case if you push them down slightly.


Push off the wall with your arms out in front right above your shoulder (your hands should not be on top of each other). Just as in the first 2 drills, engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine and look straight down the bottom of the pool. Kick to move yourself forward, just an easy kick will do. To create the extra leverage to keep your legs up you will have to push your hands slightly down in the water. If you do this with strong and engaged arms you will feel your hips and legs lifting.


If you get this right your heals should be breaking the water when kicking and the upper part of your back slightly sticking out of the water.


Swim toys to make it easier: fins, snorkel, kick board



4. Rotating body position kick with arms in front

As I mentioned in the second drill we should always have rotation in our freestyle, unfortunately this often leads to dropping off the legs due to leaning down on the hips when rotating. In this drill you will learn to keep leaning forward to hold your streamline body position.


Push off the wall with your arms out in front above your shoulders, engage your core and arms making yourself like a strong plank in the water. Start kicking to move yourself forward and once you feel like you have the right body position as in the previous drill start rotating by pushing your hip down on one side and pushing your shoulder out front on that same side. This will make you lean down on your arm pit instead of your hips and keep your legs up high. Rotate to to other side about every 2 seconds while you keep looking straight to the bottom of the pool, don't move your head.


Sometimes it helps to imagine you have a dive weight up high around your chest and you don't want this to move down to your hips. Keep leaning forward and push your hand slightly underwater when reaching forward.


You know you're doing it right if you're still breaking the water with your heals when kicking and you're still nice up high in the water. You should not 'fall' down and come back up, but instead be steady up high the whole way.


Swim toys to make it easier: fins, snorkel, kick board


This is number 3 of a series of blogs to get you ready to get back into swimming, please also read:


The following blogs will follow over the next few days:

  • What can you do now to get yourself ready?

  • Get the swim bag ready!

  • How to safely enjoy your swims back in the pool

Sign up to the Swimfit mailing list on the top of this page to not miss any the blogs!


Cheers,

Irene


PS. To coach you through the first weeks back in the pool, I have prepared a 4-Week back to Swimfit Program with drills and training sessions to make you feel good. For more information and to sign up click here.

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