Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced swimmer, there are always plenty of ways to boost your performance in the water. Here are some top tips with drill exercises to get you practising!
1. Focus on your breathing
In any sport, coaches often underestimate the importance of breathing. But when used correctly, it can greatly boost performance by increasing oxygen consumption for the muscles so athletes will not get fatigued too quickly.
In swimming, it plays a core role in your movement through the water. Whilst swimming, remember to exhale continuously and gradually when your head’s in the water. By the time you lift your head up, the lungs should have emptied. When taking air in, this should be done quickly. The process should begin to occur naturally, until you get a rhythm going.
Here are some drill exercises to help you along the way:
Drill 1: Stand in the shallow end of the pool. Bend down until your chin is just above the waterline. Take a deep breath until the lungs have reached full capacity. Drop under the water and exhale very slowly -remember to count in your head as you do this, until your lungs are empty. Repeat six times.
Drill 2: Hold onto the poolside ledge and kick. Lift your head up out of the water and take a short breath. Put your head under the water and exhale gradually. This should help you think and build up confidence breathing under the waterline.
2. Think more about your legs
When swimming front crawl or backstroke, the legs are continuously working -kicking up and down. It’s important to have a strong kick, as it acts as the fundamental force for propelling yourself through the water. Once you’ve got this mastered you can begin to build up the rhythm of arm pulls. It’s crucial to keep both legs straight and point from the toes, bending from the hip.
The following drill builds up core strength in the legs:
Leg Drill: Hold a kickboard (this allows you to focus on your legs). Push off from the wall. Glide for 3 seconds, then begin to kick up and down. Keep your legs straight and kick from the hips. Allow your ankles to relax. Remember to not bend your knees. Repeat for 4 lengths. Remember you can vary this for the breast-stroke and backstroke leg kicks, as demonstrated in this video.
3. Learn how to use your arms bilaterally
In freestyle swimming, the arm pulls play a crucial role in powering you through the water. The breathing flows more smoothly and creates an altogether better technique. However, swimmers should never underestimate the power of a bilateral arm and breathing pattern – this means breathing to both sides.
In doing this, the swimmer is balancing strength so it is evenly spread on either side of the body. Here is a drill to practice using arms efficiently:
A Single Arm drill: Place an outstretched arm in front of you. Pull with one arm through the water, then breathe. Alternate between both arms. You can choose to either kick or use a pull buoy.
So there you have some step by step techniques broken down that will help you to think about the process of swimming. With practice these will ultimately lead to a slicker, smoother style, and (in conjunction with a balanced, healthy diet) a lean, v-taper-shaped physique in the process!