I can remember the days when I first started hitting the pool as a form of exercise. Based on how few laps I managed to complete and how shattered my body felt afterwards, it was a rough go around in the beginning. My freestyle technique resembled a flailing porcupine rather than a human being. Eventually a guardian angel in the form of a friend with more pool experience finally gave me some words of swimming wisdom. These hacks for improving swimming technique have helped me shed time off laps, increased my endurance, and have made pool time significantly more enjoyable.
1. Finish That Stroke
One of the biggest keys in becoming an efficient swimmer is learning to stretch your arms further during each stroke. Concentrating on where your arm exits water and then extending it are far as possible will create powerful strokes.This can be challenging at first, especially once your triceps and forearms start getting fatigued, however over time you will feel a lot stronger.
2. Become A Breathing Guru
One sure-fired way to exhaust yourself while swimming is to try and hold your breathe for long periods of time. Turning your head to the side, without fully lifting it out of the water, and taking a deep inhale with your mouth, is the proper technique. A paced, slow exhale through the nose, followed by another face lift for air is an efficient way to keep refueling your body with oxygen.
3. It’s Not Just An Arm’s Race
Swimming is a full-body workout, which means that you need to incorporate both your arms and legs. I used to forget that legs were half of the recipe and as a result my arms felt over-worked.
4. Flex Those Toes
Ok, you’ve been properly extending your arms and rotating your hips while kicking, but why does it feel like something is off? Perhaps your toes are holding you back! Flexing your toes, rather than pointing them, will add more force behind each kick. This took me a while to figure out but it really helps.
5. Flatten Your Body
Sinking your hips or legs during a lap will add extra resistance during each stroke, which in turn will make you work a lot harder and eventually slow you down. A fully erect body will help you slice through water.
6. Find Your Happy Place
Relaxing one’s wrists and fingers while their arms are out of the water during each stroke is like being rewarded with mini-breaks during a long workout. You’ll be able to swim longer distances and feel less tired.
7. Get Professional Assistance
There’s nothing wrong with having a trained swimming coach, trainer, or even lifeguard take a look at your technique. They’ll be able to pinpoint the areas where you need the most improvement and also save you unnecessary frustration from inefficient strokes. This might even be the first thing a novice swimmer should do before diving into more workouts (That’s a cheesy pun, sorry).
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