Swimming can be incredibly difficult to master, but it doesn’t have to be!
Many people struggle to enjoy swimming because they’re making big mistakes in their freestyle technique and training approach. Take our advice, and you’ll be swimming faster in no time.
1. Swimming Without a Plan
If you have specific goals, doing random workouts (or repeating the same workouts over and over) is a surefire way to make sure you never improve.
The key to making progress in the pool is to continually challenge yourself. It might not always be fun to get out of your comfort zone, but that’s the only way you’ll get faster!
Ideally, you will train with a specific plan in mind. What is your end goal? Whether it’s competition, weight loss or lifetime fitness, set smaller, achievable goals that you can work toward week after week, month after month, so you never hit a plateau.
If you swim alone, check out the MySwimPro app for structured training plans and personalized workouts that are created specifically for your goals, speed and skill level. All you have to do is go to the pool and start swimming – MySwimPro handles the rest!
2. Swimming With Just Your Hands
A lot of swimmers think that they should pull water with their hands…and they’re right, to a point. But if you only focus on your hands, you’re going to swim a lot slower.
The reality is that you pull water with your hand and forearm. Focus on engaging the Early Vertical Forearm technique to increase the power of your pull.
When your fingertips enter the water, extend your arm forward as much as possible, and then initiate your pull by pointing your fingers toward the bottom of the pool, keeping your elbow high and your hand, wrist and forearm engaged and in line.
Pull straight back, maintaining the high elbow, and feel the difference! Learn more about Early Vertical Forearm here.
3. Kicking Too Much
Kicking is important, don’t get us wrong. But depending on your goals, you might be kicking too much!
If you are focused on elite sprinting and racing to get from one end of the pool to the other as quickly as possible, you’re going to want to kick your legs like crazy.
Related: How to Fix 5 Common Kicking Mistakes
But many swimmers kick too much in training. You just don’t need to be kicking fast during most swim sets! Because your legs are the largest muscle group in your body, excess kicking can tire you out very quickly.
Instead, focus on swimming hip-driven freestyle. We want to be more concerned with our rotation, and how our kick supports that rotation, rather than the kick being the primary source of propulsion.
Sometimes it can be helpful to think about your kick as a way to maintain proper body position and drive rotation.
4. Not Having Any Rhythm
No, we aren’t talking about your rhythm on the dance floor…we’re talking about your stroke rhythm! Establishing a consistent breathing rhythm when you swim can help you maintain your technique and stroke tempo over longer distances.
You don’t want to hold your breath too much when you swim. It might seem better to breathe as little as possible, but doing so limits your body’s oxygen supply, which can leave you feeling extra tired after each length. In some races, like the 50 freestyle, swimmers will breathe no more than once or twice…or maybe not at all! But they aren’t doing that in training.
Play around with different breathing patterns to find what is most comfortable for you. Many swimmers breathe every two or three strokes. And yes, it’s totally ok to breathe to just one side!
5. Fighting the Water
Many swimmers try to muscle their way through the water, and end up fatigued and frustrated as a result. Trying to power through with an aggressive, splashy stroke will only take you so far.
Water is 800 times more dense than air, which means that efficiency is the name of the game if you want to swim faster. You can’t fight against the water and expect to win…you have to work with it!
If you splash a lot when you swim, try practicing silent swimming. Take a few lengths to engage all of your senses as you swim. Try to swim as silently as possible: Slide your hands into the water with as minimal splash as possible. Kick with minimal white water. Take a moment to notice what you see as you swim and how the water feels. What do you hear? Connect with the water and you’ll swim more efficiently!
Ready to take your swimming to the next level? Download the MySwimPro app and get a new, personalized swim workout every day! Share your training tips and tricks in the comments!