We know what you’re thinking: It’s impossible to drop 30 seconds in 30 days. And for the most part, you’re right.

Most people can’t drop that much time in a 100- or 200-meter race that quickly. But it’s still possible to drop some time. Regardless of your swimming speed or skill level, everyone can improve their swimming in some way to shave off a few extra seconds. And for some people, that dramatic 30-second drop does happen when they commit to working on technique and efficiency.

Read on for five ways to swim faster in 30 days. You just might drop a few seconds!

Doing the Math

First, let’s do the math. What does it take to drop 30 seconds in 30 days?

Breaking it down, you’ll need to drop one second per day for 30 days to reach this goal. If you’re focused on dropping 30 seconds in the 200-meter freestyle, we can break down your goal further.

A 200 free is made up of four 50s. To drop one second per day, you’ll need to shave off 0.25 seconds per 50, per day.

Breaking your goals down into more manageable chunks makes the process feel more doable. Focus on one second per day – a quarter of a second per 50 – every day!

5 Ways to Swim Faster in 30 Days

1. Swim Slower to Swim Faster

This may sound counterintuitive, but yes, to swim faster, you need to spend more time swimming slowly.

Master Your Technique

When you swim at a slower pace, you give yourself a chance to master your technique. You won’t be able to succeed in other aspects of swimming if you don’t have a solid baseline of technique and stroke mechanics.

Add Resistance

Once your technique is sorted, it’s time to add resistance equipment to your swims to build strength without increasing speed. Try using fins and paddles to start. If you have access to them, you can also try using drag socks, a parachute or a power tower.

Related: 4 Reasons to Swim Slower if You Want to Swim Faster

If you add resistance while your technique still needs work, you risk pushing your body to its limits and reinforcing inefficient stroke mechanics.

Increase Distance, Intensity and Frequency

As you get in shape, you’ll be ready to increase your swimming distance, intensity and frequency. When making changes to your routine, it’s a good idea to build up slowly, focusing on hitting distance or frequency goals at slower paces first before upping the intensity.

2. Improve Your Streamline 

If you want to swim faster in just a few minutes, focus on decreasing drag. When you keep your body position tight and reduce the amount of resistance you create, you’ll move through the water more quickly.

Streamline is a great place to start working on this. Every lap begins with a streamline push-off, and every stroke incorporates some aspect of streamline.

Challenge yourself to do perfect streamlines off of every wall during your workouts. It might be tough at first, but over time that focus will compound and you’ll develop muscle memory for your new and improved streamline.

A perfect streamline starts at your hands. Stack one hand on top of the other and raise your arms overhead. Try to squeeze your ears with your arms. Maintain that position as you push off the wall, keeping your core engaged and legs squeezed together. Think like a torpedo! Use your chest to initiate a few dolphin kicks in streamline before you start swimming. Try these drills to improve your streamline.

If streamline position feels uncomfortable for your shoulders, work on shoulder and upper back mobility at home to improve your streamline technique.

3. Master Your Breathing

Next on your to-do list? Breathing. Perfecting your breathing technique, timing and rhythm will pay huge dividends in your swimming speed. 

First, let’s break down proper freestyle breathing.

As your arm enters the water and extends forward, your body will start to rotate. This is your opportunity to turn your head to the opposite side for a breath!

As your opposite arm finishes its pull and exits to start the recovery phase, turn your head back into the water.

Avoid over-rotating and lifting your head when you breathe to keep your body position in line. Keep one eye in the water and one eye out of the water as you take a quick sip of air. Be sure to exhale while your face is in the water so you only have to inhale when your face is out of the water. 

Find Your Breathing Pattern

Now that your breathing technique is on point, we need to talk about frequency. For general swim training, find a breathing pattern that you can stick with consistently. Most swimmers breathe every two or three strokes. 

Whichever breathing pattern you choose, make sure it allows you to get into a nice rhythm in your stroke – this is key to swimming faster.

If you want to train specifically for a short race like the 50 freestyle, however, your goal will be focused on reducing your breathing frequency. In a race like the 50, taking more breaths will slow you down. Many elite swimmers swim the 50 free without breathing at all. 

If a no-breather isn’t realistic for you, try working on taking only three breaths, or working your way down to just one breath. 

In longer races like the 200 or 400 freestyle, it’s more important to stick to a more consistent breathing pattern to give your body enough oxygen to swim longer. 

4. Train With Faster Swimmers

You’ve probably heard the adage that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It applies to swimming, too!

Whether you swim on a team or meet up with a few buddies, training with people who are better than you will push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to work harder during workouts.  

When you’re not chasing them down in the pool, you’ll probably also learn a lot from these swimmers. Watch their technique and soak up the speedy energy. Over time, you’ll find it easier to keep up with them!

5. Set SMART Goals

Last but not least, make sure you’re setting goals the right way. We recommend using SMART goals to map out what you want to achieve. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Your goals need to be detailed. “I want to swim faster” doesn’t cut it. Instead, pick a specific thing to work toward. Do you want to swim a faster 100 freestyle? That’s a better place to start.
  • Measurable: Your goal should have a measurable component. “I will swim the 100 freestyle in 1:30” is a great start – time is easy to measure! You can also add details here about how often you’ll swim to reach this goal. 
  • Attainable: Don’t set a goal that’s impossible to reach. If your current 100 freestyle time is 1:40 and you want to swim 1:30, that’s attainable. Going from 1:40 to :50, however, is not.
  • Relevant: Goals should be relevant to you. If you don’t want to swim a 5k in open water, don’t set a goal for that. 
  • Time Bound: Last, set a timeline for your goal. If you’ll be swimming the 100 free at a meet in three months, make that your cutoff!

Let’s compare these final goals. A fluffy, incomplete goal is:

“I will swim faster”

A SMART goal is:

“I will swim the 100 freestyle in 1:30 at my swim meet on December 31. I will swim four times per week and lift weights twice per week.”

Whether you want to drop three seconds or 30, consistency is key. Show up to the pool and stick to our tips above, and over time you’ll see results. Check out the MySwimPro app for personalized, daily swim workouts, Training Plans and analytics designed to help you reach your goals. Don’t worry about writing your workouts – let MySwimPro Coach handle the planning so all you have to do is hop in!

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