How to Improve your Swimming Technique

When you’re training for a triathlon, the hardest part to train for is often the swimming portion. Though you may know how to swim and have a basic swimming technique mastered, triathlon swim training is different. Since it’s a more advanced and rigorous swim, it’s important that you brush up on your swimming skills before you compete in a triathlon. If you love to swim but never made it past beginners lessons, set a goal to learn more. Just like for triathlon trainees, setting a goal to improve your swimming technique can really help you excel.

improve swimming technique
Photo Credit: Goh Rhy Yan

If you know how to swim, that’s a great place to start. Head to the pool and practice what you know. Once you’ve brushed up on what you do know, learn the following eight swimming styles and strokes. Triathlon enthusiasts and fans of swimming alike will find these strokes to be helpful.

Swimming Technique 201

Whether you’re headed to the pool to train like a champion or learn how to swim better to meet a personal goal, there are a few universal swimming techniques that can help every swimmer improve. Talk with a swim coach or take a professional class if you are serious about learning how to really excel in the world of water sports. Swimming lessons are not just for little kids. Swimming is an important skill to have that can keep you safe and help you keep others safe as well, and there are many tips and tricks you can follow for better swimming.

No matter how you go about pursuing your goal of improving your swimming technique, make sure to take some time to write it down. Keep the goal in a place where you can see it often so the reminder can motivate you to just keep swimming.

Consider some of the following tips on how to improve your swimming technique:

Safety First

Though the water is an amazing place, it is important to remember that safety should always come first when swimming. Whether it’s triathlon swim training or basic swimming, always make sure that you are being safe. When we keep the pool, open water, or lake safe, swimming can be a fun and exciting experience. Listen to your body — if you’re exhausted, take a break. It’s also important to be up to date on CPR and other first aid practices.

Keep Your Head Aligned with Your Body

When you want to swim correctly and fine-tune your swimming technique, it’s important that you use correct head position. Novice swimmers will be tempted to move their heads around or look forward as they swim, but this is a dangerous technique that slows you down. Correct head position is a natural head position. Keep your head aligned with your body and with your face directly parallel to the bottom of the pool. Besides when you turn your head to come up for air, it is important that you keep looking down.

Don’t Lift Your Head Higher Than You Need to Breathe In

Breathing is another area that some swimmers struggle with, and when you do it incorrectly you may strain your neck. Lifting your head when you come up for air is not a good idea. When you lift your head above the water you mess with your correct head positioning, which can cause your legs and hips to drop lower. This slows you down and makes it harder to get back into the groove after a breath. Instead of straining your neck to lift your head, simply turn your entire body slightly sideways and roll your head to the side while you swim. Your mouth is the only part of your head that really needs to clear the water, so don’t worry about getting your whole face out.

Breathe Out Underwater

Learning how to breath as a swimmer is hard enough, but you have to learn how to properly exhale as well. Though it may seem counterintuitive to newer swimmers, it is important that you time your exhales under water. It takes a little getting used to, but with a little practice, you should nail this habit.

By exhaling underwater you save yourself time and energy. Even if you want to wait to exhale when you go up for your next breath, don’t. This drastically slows you down and gives your competitors a serious advantage.

Learn to Swim on Your Sides

When you swim on your sides, you give yourself a competitive edge. Throughout the stroke cycle, roll your shoulders and hips from side to side. Your shoulders and back are lined with powerful muscles that don’t get used when you swim too flat. And though flat swimming is a great way to learn how to swim, if you’re looking to train for a triathlon or become a novice swimmer, rolling strokes side to side is a must. This concept is best learned when seen and then put into action. If you need to, have a local coach show you how to properly roll your strokes side to side, or watch a few YouTube clips of famous swimmers — then get to the pool and start practicing.

Apply Proper Kicking Patterns

Just as there are different swimming strokes for your arms, there are different kicking patterns for your legs, too. When you learn all the strokes and kick patterns, you give yourself all the tools you need to create a stroke that plays to your strengths in a triathlon race and helps you swim fast while conserving energy.

Brush up on all your kicks and learn what each kick is best for. For example, the Two Beat Kick is great for long distances because it is steady, powerful, and helps you conserve energy. During a long race, you need every ounce of energy you can get, so it’s important to kick bad kicking habits to the curb.

As you advance your swimming technique and learn how to swim better, keep your end goal in mind. If you find yourself getting discouraged, take heart. Even the best of the best have been where you are now. Keep practicing, keep learning, and above all — keep swimming.