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Like most things in life, if you want to get better at swimming, you need to be willing to put in the work! Hours, days, weeks and even years of consistent training will yield better speed, technique and endurance.
So, you might assume you need to commit 5+ years to swimming before you see results. Not so! No matter your swimming goals, stick to your training (and narrow your focus) for at least 4 weeks and you’re likely to see great improvements. Here’s how!
First: Reflect on the Last Four Weeks
Before you dive into your next four weeks of training, think about the previous month. What did you improve? What was stagnant? What has fallen by the wayside?
Use your answers to these questions to guide your plan for your next four weeks. Choose to focus your training on the 2-3 things that didn’t improve.
It’s important to understand that while there will always be a seemingly endless list of things you can improve, you can’t do it all at once. Instead, work on a few aspects of your stroke at a time before moving on to the next.
Five Ways to Improve Your Swimming
To help you answer the above questions, look to these 5 common areas for improvement:
1. Streamline & Underwaters
Related: How to Have a Perfect Streamline
Your power and technique off of each wall plays a huge role in your overall swimming speed and efficiency. A few questions to ask yourself here:
- How far can you dolphin kick off the wall?
- How long can you stay in streamline underwater?
- How strong is your push-off?
- How flexible are you in dolphin kick or streamline position?
If you find that you’re lacking in any of these areas, streamline may be a great focus for the next month.
Related: How to Do a Flip Turn
Whether you’re doing flip turns, open turns or crossover turns, take a moment to think about areas of weakness in your turns:
- Do you slow down or lose momentum into the turn?
- How fast is your turn itself?
- Are you spending too much time on the wall?
If speed is a goal, your turns are a great area to work on. You’ll make up those extra seconds with tight, fast and technically sound turns.
3. Breath Control
Depending on your goals and the distances you’re training for, your breathing goals will differ. If you’re working on the 50 free, you may strive to improve your breath control so you can race a 50 free with just one breath. A distance swimmer, on the other hand, may work on developing a consistent pattern of breathing every four strokes instead.
Regardless of your breathing goals, think about the following:
- Do you have a consistent breathing pattern?
- Do you feel totally out of breath after bouts of underwater swimming (ex. breaststroke pull-out, streamline dolphin kick)?
- Is your breathing technique correct?
- How comfortable are you in the water (do you get anxiety about not being able to breathe)?
4. Body Position
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Next up is body position. Refining your head and hip position will reduce drag to help you swim faster, improve your efficiency and allow you to swim longer distances without getting as tired. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, consider adding body position to your list!
- Do your hips sink to the bottom as you get tired?
- Do you look forward when you swim?
- Do you rotate when you swim freestyle and backstroke?
Last on the list is technique. When you clean up your stroke, you’ll improve your distance per stroke and reduce the effort needed to swim at a smooth, comfortable pace.
To determine if your technique needs extra work, ask yourself:
- Do you take a lot of strokes per lap (20-30+)?
- Have you been avoiding drills?
- Do you have a high SWOLF score?
You have probably noticed that many elite swimmers look like they’re hardly trying when they are swimming at a moderate pace. That’s because their technique is on point!
Putting it All Together: The Swimming Matrix
It can feel overwhelming and stressful when it comes time to decide which aspects of your stroke to work on. And it’s impossible to work on everything if you want to see great results.
But we have some good news: It doesn’t really matter all that much! What’s important is that you’re working on something.
And of course, what you focus on will dictate where you can improve. And over the course of months and years, you’ll eventually cover all five areas (and then you can start all over again!).
It can be helpful to plug your focuses into the Swimming Matrix. This visual representation of your swimming “to-do list” can help you rein it in if you’ve taken on too much, or identify additional areas to add to the list for this training cycle.
In the below example, a swimmer is focusing on improving speed for the 50 free. They’ll work on freestyle speed, power and technique, plus additional drills aligned with their goal.
When you fill out this matrix for yourself, you shouldn’t have check marks in every box. That’s unrealistic!
After you’ve determined your focuses for the next four weeks, it’s time to start training! Check out the MySwimPro app for personalized Training Plans aligned with your goals. From speed improvements to weight loss to endurance challenges, we have you covered, no matter your speed or skill level. Track your swims on your Apple or Garmin smartwatch for Detailed Analytics, including heart rate data, splits, SWOLF score and more.
Download MySwimPro on your iPhone or Android to get started!
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