Good swimming technique is important when you are aiming for efficiency in your stroke. This means understanding how to swim quickly without getting tired too fast or relaxing when swimming slowly. Whether your interest is for safety, exercise or competition, it's best to learn several strokes and become efficient at them for different situations. These tips will help you improve your swimming technique and become a more effective swimmer!
Understanding the Art of Swimming
What Is Swimming?
Swimming is moving your body through the water. You can be in a pool, the ocean or a lake, and you can use a variety of strokes and kicks to propel you.
Water Versus Air
Water is a liquid, and air is a gas. Water is denser and viscous, or thick. On land, you are dealing with gravity, walking and balance. You can also bike where you need to and deal with air resistance. But in the water, gravity is not an issue; buoyancy is. Your main concern in the water is drag, the resistance of water. In the winter, water is denser than air, and outdoor swimmers have to wear wetsuits to avoid hypothermia.
Newton's Laws of Swimming
Newton's three laws of motion may help those who are not comfortable in the water. The first law is inertia, things move steadily or stay still unless pushed or pulled by something. The second law is if you pull or push something, it begins to move or go faster. The bigger the object, the faster it will move. The third law states that applying force to an object will be returned to you by that object in equal force in the reverse direction. This is known as action and reaction.
In swimming, if you kick against a wall, you will be propelled forward. If you want to swim forward, you push the water backwards. To float, you kick down to stay up. If you want to stop and stand; you pull your hands downward in front, and your legs will go back to an upright position. These principles can help you understand how to move in the water more confidently.
Drag in the water is the same as when biking. You need to minimize resistance in the water by making yourself as horizontal as possible. Salt water is harder to swim in than a pool is. Seawater is also denser due to the salt content, and the temperature makes it harder as well. The ocean is also harder to swim in because it is always turbulent. Unlike biking, you can't build momentum in the water; it has a constant resistance.
Swimming is an excellent aerobic exercise. You will be able to swim longer and further as you learn more about swimming technique. Conservation of momentum means that you need to pull water back as much as you can with every stroke. Energy and power imply that you need energy to push yourself through the water. Your body loses power as this energy is used.
Floating and Buoyancy
We swim horizontally because it creates more upthrust from the water. It's easier to float on your back, and treading water is done to create an upward force to prevent sinking. People are very buoyant; those who carry more weight are more buoyant than thin people. Wearing a wetsuit will trap air bubbles making you more buoyant still.
Different Swimming Techniques
Neutral Head Position
By keeping your head in line with your body when doing the front crawl, you will be more efficient. This swimming technique will keep your hips and legs from dropping which can happen when you look forward. You will be able to save your neck from straining as well.
Press Your Buoy
Maintaining a horizontal position during the front crawl is a swimming technique that uses the press your buoy style. This requires that you press your chest down at all times. It causes your hips and legs to be higher in the water and requires less effort to stay horizontal.
Avoid Lifting Your Head to Breathe
Lifting your head to breathe will cause your legs and hips to drop. Instead, roll from side to side to breathe, turning your head to clear your mouth. You should have one eye in the water and one eye out. It takes practice!
Swim on Your Sides
Rolling your hips and shoulders side to side engages your large back and shoulder muscles which gives you a more powerful arm stroke.
For a better crawl stroke swimming technique, continuously exhale underwater. This allows you to relax instead of holding your breath.
Use High Elbow Position
Using a high elbow posture in the water while pulling back with your arm allows you to keep your forearm vertical longer. This swimming technique allows you to improve propulsion.
Don't Overreach with Your Recovering Arm
Don't completely extend your recovery arm out of the water as it creates drag and turbulence.
Use the Two-Beat Kick for Long Distances
To save energy, use a two-beat kick. It's great for distance swimming and when used with the front crawl, it allows you to be more relaxed. You kick every arm stroke on each side of the body.
Don't Put on The Breaks
Keep your hands parallel and flat to the water, palm down when extending your arm forward under the water during your recovery. You will slow yourself down if you angle your hands.
Swimming Tips and More
- Using a nose clip can help you relax and keep water out of your nose when you are first learning. Once you are comfortable with your coordination and technique, you can eliminate it.
- Keep your palms parallel to the surface of the water when extending under water and forward during arm recovery. If your palms are facing up, it will slow you down.
- You can save energy by using the two-beat kick for long- and middle-distance swimming.
- Avoid swimmer's shoulder by not extending your arm completely above the surface of the water when recovering; this increases drag.
- Swim with a high elbow which will improve propulsion.
- Exhale continuously when underwater and your face is submerged. This will help to relax you. Use side breathing techniques.
- Engage your shoulder and back muscles more by side swimming; roll from side to side with each stroke to improve propulsion.
- Roll until your mouth clears the water to breathe instead of lifting your head.
- Press your upper body down so that the lower body rises by employing the press your buoy technique.
- Don't look forward; keep your head in line with your body looking down which will save you from kicking harder.
If you are reviewing these strokes for safety, they can come in handy when you are faced with certain dangers. For exercise, you can learn how to get a more comprehensive workout. For competition, you can compete in multiple categories and improve your swimming technique.
When used in freestyle events, this is the fastest stroke and the most common. To do this, propel yourself on your stomach with alternate arm strokes in a windmill fashion. A flutter kick will propel you, and your breaths are taken in time with your strokes.
Similar to the front crawl, this is done on your back. This will give you a great back workout. Alternate your arms in a windmill fashion with a flutter kick to propel you. Keep your face above water while looking up.
Slowest of the competitive strokes, keep your head above water when you begin to learn this swimming technique. Competitive swimmers have their heads underwater. On your stomach, move your arms in a half circle in front of you, and do a whip kick simultaneously. The whip kick is done by keeping your legs straight and then bending at the knee and hip. Move them outward and then back together, like a frog.
This advanced stroke will give you a great workout. It is the fastest of the competitive strokes. On your stomach, bring your arms up over your head at the same time, and then push them into the water propelling you forward. Push your head and shoulders above the water as you do this. Do a dolphin kick--- keeping your legs together and straight moving like a dolphin.
This stroke is not used in competition but is a good one for safety. Lifeguards use this when they are rescuing people. Swim on your side using a scissor kick, and alternate your arms.
This variation uses a reversed breaststroke kick, and your arms move in sync under the water.
Combat Side Stroke
Navy SEALs use this stroke. It saves energy and is efficient. It minimizes the swimmers profile underwater.
Evolved from the sidestroke, it is named for John Trudgen, an English swimmer. Swimming on your side, alternate your arms over your head, and use a scissor kick with every other stroke.
Improving your swimming technique will help you become a better swimmer. We hope these techniques are of value to you and your swimming goals!
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