One of the most important things to keep in mind when swimming is proper technique. Not only can using proper stroke technique improve your times and overall intensiveness of the workout, it can also prevent injury. The following are some tips for perfecting your freestyle swimming technique which can be applied at your next practice.
Getting A-Head of the Competition
Body position is the most important aspect of proper freestyle swimming technique. The first aspect of body positioning to keep in mind is head positioning, since the rest of your body follows your head’s lead. When swimming freestyle, make sure your hairline is just above the surface of the water, with your forehead just below the surface. Relax your neck and back muscles and try to keep your body straight and parallel to the bottom of the pool.
Many beginner swimmers make the mistake of burying their heads into their chests, which alters their body positing by forcing the upper body downwards. Conversely, some beginners look too far forward, causing tension in the neck and upper-back muscles that can lead to discomfort and potential injury.
After mastering proper head and body positioning, the next aspect of freestyle swimming technique to work on is rotation. When reaching forward to perform a stroke, your body should pivot in the direction of the arm that is reaching forward. For example, when you are reaching forward with your right arm, the right side of your body becomes submerged in the water while your left side rotates out of the water and faces the ceiling.
What Time is it… Hourglass Time!
Once you’ve properly positioned your body in the water and have successfully mastered the pivot, the next component of your freestyle swimming training involves propelling yourself through the water. When pulling yourself through the water, the swimmer aims to maximize the amount of water pulled in order to maximize the distance charted by expelling the least amount of effort.
The easiest way to do so is to pull yourself through the water by using an hourglass-type formation with your stroke. At the beginning of each stroke instead of pulling your arms straight, pull them back towards your body in a curved manner from the top of your head back towards your navel. Make sure to keep your elbows high for maximum curvature.
Finally, once you’ve achieved the correct body positioning including hourglass curved strokes, you have to master the follow though. After your arm has completed its curve stroke and has ended up fully extended behind the swimmer make sure not to bend your elbows and pull your arm out of the water. Allow the arm the complete its path so that your thumbs slightly graze the side of your thigh. By always completely executing each stroke, you’ll be saving yourself work in the long run, as you will expend less energy and be able to decrease your overall number of strokes per lap.
Here is a Underwater Freestyle Clip from the 2004 Olympics:
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