10 Swimming Speed Improvement Tips

When the majority of individuals wish to enhance their swimming ability, they often take a single method which entails gradually increasing the total amount of lengths they do every week.

Using this method can increase your stamina, but usually, it doesn’t make your swimming faster. To increase your speed in the water, the primary thing to pay attention to is refining your technique.

1. Work on Your Balance

Not having the right balance in the water is the main factor that will slow you down while swimming. Why?

Well, fast-swimming all comes down to minimizing drag. If you’re not in a good balance, you become prone to unwanted friction. Pretend that you’re swimming downhill.

It may seem a bit odd, but when you act as if you’re swimming on a downward slope, the correct position of your body will come naturally, as your weight will be balanced accordingly.

By applying more force to your upper chest (imagining that you are pushing a football into the water with your chest is useful for some), your legs and hips will be lifted higher in the water.

You’ll reduce the resistance felt from your front side and you’ll travel faster through the water.

2. Build an Impressive Kick

The most agile swimmers in the water invariably possess a strong kick. Legend purports that Olympic freestyle champion Alexander Popov was able to complete a 50m sprint in a mere 27 seconds.

Having a solid kick is essential for four reasons:

  • Better body position: Back to point one – a strong kick prevents your lower body from sinking, reducing drag.
  • Adds propulsive force: The water your kick displaces drives you forward in the water at greater a speed
  • Powerful hip drive: A powerful kick makes rotating your hips easier. This allows you to slice through the water like a sailboat on its side (more on this later)
  • A finishing boost: In those last few meters before the wall, your arms can seize up with lactic acid. A formidable kick can power you through to the finish without losing speed.

Despite how essential kicking is, many swimmers and coaches neglect to practice it regularly. Pay attention to pushing your foot downward instead of backward when developing a powerful kick.

You won’t be able to kick to the back if you don’t bend your knees. Water build-up on the back of one’s leg impedes their speed.

When you direct your attention to driving your foot down instead, make sure you are kicking with your hip. That means less drag and more propulsion. Talk about a double-win!

3. Master Your Pull

Having a bad posture will really put a damper on your speed, but nothing will slow you down as quickly as an insufficient pull. On multiple occasions, swimmers have not taken advantage of their pull to its fullest potential. And the main reason? A low-elbow catch.

When swimming freestyle, your elbow should not dip lower than your wrist during the pulling portion of the stroke. This mistake is a frequent occurrence, leading to your arms being in an improper position which stops you from accessing your back muscles’ strength. Result: plod city.

To swim quickly, you should concentrate on keeping your elbow elevated. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by extending your leading arm the whole way
  2. With arm outstretched, initiate your pull by rotating your shoulder ‘inwards’ so your baby finger rises above your thumb (imagine you’re pouring a cup from a teapot)
  3. Keeping your forearm, wrist, and hand stiff, begin to point your fingers towards the bottom of the pool
  4. As you pull, repeat shoulder above the elbow, elbow above the wrist, wrist above hand, hand above fingers
  5. Drawing your arm back, catch the water with your newfound paddle and keep your elbow high until your forearm is at 90deg.

4. Get As Long As Possible

If you have ever observed a competitive rowing event at the Olympics, you can see that items which are longer and slimmer travel faster through the water. To swim quickly, you need to stretch out your body like that of a rowing boat.

Basically, you need to be able to accurately time your pull.

You wish to devote as much time as you can with your primary arm extended. By utilizing this method, you can use the leading arm to help you glide through the water at faster speeds.

It is a blessing that catch-up is a simple exercise that can be included in your workout regimen. Keep your front arm still until your opposite arm catches up to it for a successful attempt.

5. Rotate From Side to Side

On a breezy day at the shore, you might have observed sailing boats gliding across the ocean on their side. Catamarans are created to be most efficient when they are tilted at an angle on their side.

Why is that? Well, again it all comes back to drag. See, the air has way less resistance than water. Hence, the faster you swim, the greater part of your body will be above the water’s surface.

Proper rotation plays a huge role in this. By rotating while swimming, you are presenting a reduced area of your body to the water’s opposition.

Rotating your body also aids your swimming, as it aids in breathing, lowers your chance of hurting your shoulders, gives you a longer reach, and helps better utilize your back muscles.

When it comes to swimming front crawl, it is essential to have an understanding that this stroke should be executed while swimming on one’s side. You seem to switch sides with each stroke.

6. Work on Your Breathing

The last technical detail that can reduce your speed will be the incorrect timing of your breathing. And when we say it can impede you, we mean it can make your transition from being fierce and powerful to being limp and powerless.

That is a result of inadequate breathing technique impacting every part of your swim. Sadly, it is also likely the most difficult aspect to accomplish satisfactorily.

Working on the previous five technical aspects of your swimming technique will make mastering your breathing much simpler. If you already possess a good posture, a stout kick, and an excellent body roll, it’s easier to integrate breathing into your practice.

7. Focus on Efficiently Moving Through the Water

The effectiveness of swimming is measured by the amount of energy used to get from one side of the pool to the other.

McIntire commented that the key to success in swimming lies in maximizing efficiency, which will save energy to achieve greater speed.

To start, measure your distance per stroke. This is how much distance you can cover with each movement of your body in the water. McIntire suggested keeping track of the number of times your hands enter the water in each lap.

One can assess their swimming speed by measuring the amount of distance one can traverse with each stroke while they swim freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly. Next, to improve efficiency, try these three things:

Improve your kick. Regardless of your swimming proficiency, McIntire recommends that you practice your flutter kick. She stated that those just starting out in swimming may have difficulty if their ankles are not particularly limber. Exercising the ankles outside of the pool can help improve mobility. To increase the range of motion in your ankles, exercises such as pointing your toes and bending them upwards, making circles with your feet in both directions, and doing a calf stretch while standing are beneficial.

McIntire recommends a lunge exercise called “the world’s greatest stretch,” which consists of twisting and lifting one arm up towards the sky, to prepare the whole body before going swimming or to recuperate afterwards. Apart from that, McIntire recommended picking out a long fin for practising kicking movements in the water. Fins that feature a longer blade are beneficial as they make it easier to stay afloat and keep the body up, giving you better posture and decreasing unexpected knee flexing.

Additionally, long fins can increase the flexibility of the foot and ankle, leading to an enhanced kick, according to McIntire. (Wear short fins for speed workouts.)

Master rotary breathing. McIntire suggested that proper breathing can aid in achieving greater velocity. When doing a freestyle stroke, keep your head at the same height as the surface of the water, and move it alternatively to either side to get air.

In other words, try to keep your head in the water so that your lower body doesn’t sink. This not only disturbs the posture of your body, but it also influences how fast you swim. You should have one goggle in the water while expelling air out of your mouth. That’s the perfect head position,” she said.

Stay in a straight line. Keep a streamlined shape in the water to maximize your efficiency. Visualize yourself swimming between two boundaries that aren’t visible.

Your head, hips, and ankles should all be at the same height. McIntire advised moving their body repeatedly, while still keeping the same posture while swimming.

8. Try a Speed Workout

McIntire asserted that to swim quickly, one must really work hard and move quickly. She emphasized that if one only swims without pushing themselves to go beyond their usual speed, they will not improve in their swimming. That’s where speed workouts come in.

Replace an existing simple pool workout with a speed-oriented session. Record the number of strokes it takes you to swim 50 meters (or two lengths of the pool).

Then, do four 25-meter swims (with a 15 to 20-second rest in between each lap) and go as fast as you can, but try to maintain that same distance per stroke or get within two strokes, McIntire recommended.

9. Add Strength Workouts

Strength building can aid in the improvement of the form and posture you have in the water. Exercises like deadlifts, squats, single-leg balancing, lat pull-downs, and core workouts can be beneficial when trying to become faster outside of the pool.

Lee Sommers, who is the strength coach of the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club, and All-Star Aquatics, commented that “these activities are effectively conveyed through the water.” Quad muscles can increase the strength of your kick and its power.

Increasing the strength in the hamstrings will help swimmers maintain endurance for later in the competition. “He stated that if you possess a strong lower body and hips, you do not need to solely depend upon your upper body to propel yourself through the water.”

The lats are a major factor when it comes to executing a good swimming stroke, as they allow you to drag a greater amount of water. He noted that performing core exercises can boost stroke efficiency, correct body positioning, and protect oneself from harm.

More precisely, practising pull-ups could also be beneficial while swimming. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2018 suggests that a person’s capacity to do pull-ups correlates to their ability to swim fast, likely because it is an indicator of upper body strength.

Target doing one or two strength workouts each week and think about employing a personal trainer to assist you in setting up a suitable program.

10. Practice Healthy Habits

It’s not simply about what happens in the water. The habits you cultivate in your everyday activities have an impact on how quickly you can swim.

Hydrate. Not drinking enough water can make you feel tired and a bit confused, especially when exercising. McIntire, who has qualifications in sports nutrition, suggested drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water daily.

If you are increasing the intensity of your exercises, consider consuming drinks containing electrolytes and sodium. It’s important to read the label on your chosen sports drink – if it doesn’t have sodium in it, add a smidgen of salt to the drink, and shake it up.

Maintain carbohydrate intake. McIntire commented that carbohydrates are the fuel of choice for the body and brain. Be sure to consume plenty of nutritious carbohydrates throughout the day, such as fruits, veggies, intact grains and pulses.

McIntire suggested consuming a quick snack full of carbohydrates, like a banana or portion of applesauce, 20 minutes before going swimming.

Think about getting help from a certified nutritionist who specializes in sports performance to put together an individualized nutrition plan tailored to your body.

Recover. It’s simple to concentrate more on preparing than on taking a break when you’re striving to reach a target. But gains happen with rest.

Ensure you are sleeping for the advised seven or more hours each night at the minimum. And if you can sneak in naps, do it. McIntire suggested utilizing any surplus time for recuperation.


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