Swim Fast - Tips For A Faster FreestyleBy following proven methods of training you can greatly improve your swimming technique and
increase your speed. By: Tim A.
Do A Warm Up
Like most sports, it would be a good idea to carefully warm up before you start into your swimming workouts and before a swim meet. The purpose is to warm up the muscles to help prevent an injury and to work out the stiffness. For the purpose of a meet you will have warmed up enough so that you are not making a cold start and are ready to go all out from the start.
What you do not want to happen with a warm up is tire yourself so you can not get a great workout or even reduce your times in an event. Dont mistake a warm up as a workout, its just getting you ready. After your swim warm up, it can be good to do some stretching, its generally accepted that stretching after warming up is more beneficial.
You will find different swimmers have a warm up they prefer, and there are coaches that have warm ups they want their swimmers to use. Also for a meet, the length of your warm up may be dictated by the distance you will swim. What can be difficult before a meet is the amount of people in the water warming up with you. This can make you have to modify your usual warm up routine due to lack of space.
What do swimmers do for their warm ups? This is a difficult question to answer because of the different requirements. I would say that if its a warm up for practice, then you could do a longer warm up of slower laps mixed with some sprints. You could throw in some kicking and pulling drills to add some variety.
When you get in the pool to warm up for an event you may not get to do what you want. It can get crowded and you might have to just swim the best you can. Make the most of it for it will be better than no warm up at all and you will still benefit from it.
Learn To Do Drills
If you are attempting to improve your swim technique or improve your efficiency in the water, you need to work on some swimming drills. Do some drills every time you workout, include technique drills as part of this.
If you can fine tune your technique for the freestyle you can make the stroke more effortless which would translate to better times. In addition, improving technique would help you use a little less energy.
You can never do to many drills to improve technique and you should do drills that targets the different aspects of the swim. Done repeatedly, drills will allow you to get good enough that you do not have to think about what you are doing, it becomes second nature.
Another important aspect of swimming if you are a competitive swimmer is dealing with distractions. If you are not able to focus on the job at hand you will lose some of your edge when you get in the
pool. You need to train yourself to not be distracted by the noise and goings on around you, learn to concentrate on your mission which is to swim the best times you can.
A lot of how well you do in sports is related to your mental state. Being in control of your mental state will give you the chance to perform at your best. A little research online can help you find methods for doing drills and improving your mental state. It would be well worth your time to learn more about these two important areas of training and competition.
The Importance Of The Kick
Not everyone has a good kick while doing the freestyle. Doing some extra work at improving your kick will definitely help you out. There are some drills you can do to make improvements. Being able to develop a good consistent kick will go along way to improving your swim.
One of the big tips you always hear is to keep your toes pointed. Thing is many people dont have the flexibility to point their toes. Some stretching can help with this. Try laying face down on the floor with your legs extended out behind you and together. Have someone gently pull your foot so your toes are pointed back and hold a few seconds, if it hurts they are stretching too far. Do this a few times a week and try to increase the stretch each week.
While doing the kick itself, you should extend your legs out behind you and about three inches apart. Your kick should be short, meaning that your legs will not move too far up and down. If your feet are splashing on the surface you are kicking to high. Your legs are helping to keep your body aligned in the water so your kick is important in this aspect as much as propulsion.
To strengthen your hip flexor muscles, go to the deep end of the pool. With fins on and floating vertical, kick with your legs without bending your knees. Doing it this way will isolate your hip flexor muscles. Do this in sets of hard kicks and easy for a rest. Being able to strengthen your flexors and getting more flexibility in your feet will help improve your kick while doing the freestyle.
What A Drag You Can Be
When we swim there are forces that are out of our control that we must contend with in the hopes of swimming faster. It doesnt matter if you are in the pool or the open water, we must deal with these forces. The drag that is created by the water on our bodies is one of the main obstacles we must deal with and finding a way to reduce this drag makes a difference in how fast we can swim. So, how do we reduce drag while swimming?
Being water is so much denser than air we also have to fight this resistance. When the water flows along our bodies it tries to cling to anything it can grab onto, this is drag and reducing the effect of this drag will help us slide through the water more easily. Not only is drag a problem but we also have to deal with the turbulence of the water. If swimming in a pool with others, the surface of the water gets choppy which itself can slow you down a little as you plow through the chop.
Swimmers have been trying to reduce this drag for many years. Some of the things done are shaving body hair to reduce drag. Wearing swim caps and shaving the head are also popular. New style full-
body suits are now used to reduce drag. The fabric has a pattern that is supposed to crate pressure differences which in turn help you slide through the water easier.
Tests have shown that these suits give the best benefit when doing a glide such as pushing off the wall after a turn. The suit seems to loose its benefits while actively swimming because of the water surface turbulence. There is lots of information out there about the effects of drag on the body while swimming, and reducing this drag to get an edge has been something that all swimmers have been thinking about.
Relax Your Way To a Better Swim
I had written an article about relaxing and how being tense can affect your swim performance. What goes hand in hand with that is being able to breath in a relaxed way. You do not want to feel like you are rushing through your breathing which can come from being too tense.
You must learn to relax so you do not use up whatever extra energy you may have. Think of swimming conservatively so you expend less energy yet you increase your speed. If you find you are the type that can tense up and not relax while swimming, you need to work past that and during practice is when you do it.
At practice spend a little time to swim a relaxing freestyle stroke. Do not hurry, just cruse along and try to relax your body. Get your breathing in rhythm with your strokes and just relax your muscles while pulling yourself along.
It may not make sense but try it, you can get used to this relaxed feeling during practice so when you are seriously swimming and find your self tensing up think about what being relaxed feels like. This may help you to relax yourself somewhat.
If you can not relax while swimming you will not deliver your best performance and fall short of your swimming goals. Start before you even get into the pool to relax by listening to some music or finding a quite place to sit so you can clear your mind.
Ask around or watch what others may be doing to relax before a meet and try that. Most people are pretty tensed up before a meet its just that many other no how to get into a relaxed state at the start.
More Drills can Never Hurt
One of the important tasks you must do to swim faster is do drills. Swimming drills will help you concentrate on different aspects of the freestyle so you can improve on them. You can concentrate on your stroke, kick or your body positioning. Done repetitively, drills will help you remember to do what needs to be done with out thinking about it.
You can do one arm swim drills where you swim the freestyle as normal except you only pull with one arm. You can hold your other arm back against your side or hold it to your front. Do a set number of strokes with one arm then switch to the other, doing the same number of strokes. Repeat back and forth. You want to breath on the side that the arm is doing the pulling, let your body roll enough so your head
turns to breath then go back to the forward position.
To make you aware of your hand position and to promote a high elbow swim, the normal freestyle. When you bring your elbow up, do not remove your fingers completely from the water. As you complete the stroke, drag your finger tips along the surface of the water to give you a feel as to where they are in relation to your body.
To help you learn to do a complete stroke with your arm try this. While swimming the freestyle, extend your arm back for a full stroke and let your thumb touch your thigh about the spot where it would be if you where standing up. You will then extend your elbow out of the water to complete the stroke. Many times a swimmer is cheating themselves out of a full pull through by pulling the elbow up too soon.
Refine Your Style And Swim Faster
Do you want to swim consistently and with less effort? Then find out how to get your body in sync or in rhythm with itself. What do I mean by rhythm? You know, when you have all the components of swimming working together in such a way that you swim almost effortlessly.
It could be your arm stroke or the way you kick, consider every aspect of your style to see what needs to be worked on to help improve your swim. Think about your breathing also, this could be a key point in getting into a good rhythm. If your breathing is out of sync with the rest of what you do it will really throw you off.
Swim some easy laps in a pool and pay attention to every aspect of your freestyle technique. You should be noticing if anything is not matching up with the other things. Such as your arm strokes and when you are turning your head are off. Or even how your body is positioned in the water.
A lot of factors come into play when swimming and you need to get them all working together, not fighting each other. As you swim and notice something try to get it corrected before you work on the next thing. When you get it under control try to pick out something else that seems out of line.
As you make corrections to your freestyle technique you now must keep aware of it so each time you swim you can conquer that so it becomes natural to you. Practice until it allbecomes second nature to you and you will find yourself making great improvements.
Natural Ability Or Willingness To Learn
If you are a competitive swimmer either in the pool or open water swims for triathlons, you can improve your times by training but can be limited by genetics. Just like running or cycling, there are those that just are born with that extra edge. They seem to naturally do better at their sport than others.
If you are a triathlete, you can improve your swim time through improving efficiency and just getting stronger by swimming. If you can become very efficient at swimming you will be saving some energy for the next stage of the event. This can be more important to many than finishing the swim up front because they may be stronger on the bike or running.
You need to get in a pool and swim laps, if you are just starting dont over do it at first. You want to avoid an injury like swimmers shoulder that can be attributed to over doing it too early. Every week add more laps. Make one day a week your long distance day, this will help increase your aerobic capacity. If youre doing a long distant triathlon you could be swimming one to two miles.
Swimming in the pool is different than getting out in the open water. If you have the ability to do so, go swim in a lake or the ocean to get the feel for it. Also when you are racing, there is going to be a lot of people in the water jockeying for position at the start. This can be intimidating for many and you can get hit with an elbow or foot if not careful. You can hold back some till the crowd thins out then go for it.
Relaxing Under Pressure
Competing under pressure can have a negative outcome for many swimmers. The in-ability to relax before their event can make it difficult to swim their best time. At practice they may have been doing better times than they pulled off at a meet. Sometimes just being at a large meet where the best swimmers show up can make it worse.
What will really help those who do not perform well under pressure, or for all swimmers for that matter is learn to relax. When you are worrying about your event and how well you will swim, your muscles will start to tense up, this will take away from your ability to swim with a relaxed and fluid motion.
Learning to relax before your event is of utmost importance, there are many techniques you can use that have worked for many athletes. Do not think about whats ahead or who your competition is, think about nothing but yourself. Find a quiet place if possible to sit or lay down and put your mind at ease by listening to some calm music or do relaxing breathing.
For some, just hanging out with teammates or friends and goofing off will help take your mind off of the race. Stretching is important and can help you relax by thinking of nothing but the act of stretching and breathing, breath in slow through your nose and exhale slowly from the mouth.
You could even find a quiet place in your mind that you can concentrate on, think of some peaceful location that you would like to be at that moment. Any method you can use to relax your yourself should be employed, once you learn to control your stress you will find that you will swim so much better.
Master The Freestyle Swimming Technique
Triathletes Swim Training