3 tips for swimming faster


It’s a fun story from the 70s that people still like to tell today. And it documents how ambitious the search for small and large improvements is.

It was 1972 when Mark Spitz achieved as many gold medals with as many world records in all of his seven starts. Very puristic in nylon swimming trunks and without swimming goggles, Spitz thrilled the spectators in the Munich Olympic swimming pool. But what was behind these outstanding achievements? The other nations and their coaches also asked themselves this question.

So journalists asked about Spitz’s secret to success. The answer confused the swimming world and sparked a debate. According to the US coaches, it was the mustache that had a positive influence on the water position and thus led to faster times in the pool. Even if from today’s perspective one would only smile wearily at such an explanation, this traditional story documents the constant desire for tips and tricks to optimize swimming times.

The secret of success

Of course, there are methods and tips that enable constant further development. For example, the significantly increased proportion of athletic land training over the past ten years has led to a new type of swimmer who is significantly more versatile.

Sport doesn’t stand still, that’s for sure. And we have listed three examples for you of how you can improve your swimming performance as a young or adult swimmer, regardless of your level.

Aspect 1: Frequency

Gliding exercises are still an effective way for many coaches to give swimmers the feeling of speed with little effort. However, the concept of gliding is sometimes equated with the hope of being able to maintain or even increase one’s swimming speed without any energetic expenditure. In the exaggeration of this approach, you see swimmers trying to cover the pool over and over again with even fewer strokes.

When Sheila Taormina writes in her book “Swimming Like a Pro” that good swimmers don’t glide, she is talking about exactly this phenomenon. Because if you want to glide, you first need high speed. It is therefore fatal if a low starting speed is accompanied by an artificially extended gliding phase. The result is a low average speed with high fluctuations. Finally, in the gliding phase, sometimes little or no speed is generated.

In competitive swimming, measuring individual movement frequency therefore takes up a lot of time. The goal: to generate propulsion as continuously as possible without loss of speed within a movement cycle. Try it. At first, the slightly faster movement may cause you problems. If the movement is carried out precisely, you will ideally swim faster and more evenly.

Aspect 2: Power

Strength is the basis of every movement. Even though swimming is considered an endurance sport, individual strength is an essential parameter for your swimming performance. The faster you move the drive surfaces against the water, the harder this deformable element becomes. So you literally have it in your hands to what extent you get the desired pressure from the water. However, short and quick pulses require strength. Strength that you can develop to a certain extent in the water.

However, you can only generate high demands that improve your maximum strength on land. Therefore, develop your strength with the help of pull ropes and specific training equipment as well as with your own body weight. Push-ups and pull-ups are still basic exercises for swimmers that develop exactly the muscles you need in the water. Only with strength can you effectively push yourself off the water. So it’s better to stay on land every now and then instead of swimming lengths in the water evenly and without any real goal.

Aspect 3: Breathing

Unlike running, swimming doesn’t allow you to breathe when you feel you need to. The rhythm and technique of the swimming positions only allow a limited breathing frequency and therefore force you to adopt an individually optimal breathing rhythm. Sometimes contact with the air is so limited in time and at the same time the intensity is so high that no incidents can occur during the breathing process.

Even a swallowing can have devastating consequences. In order to make the best possible use of short contact with air, it is therefore necessary to view breathing as an active process. Breathe out completely and actively until you lift or turn your head to the surface of the water.

If you neglect to empty your lungs, increasing amounts of used air will remain in your lungs. This so-called dead space can disrupt further oxygen absorption to such an extent that it can lead to shortness of breath or even gasping. With every breath, be aware that fresh oxygen is an important source of energy and has a huge impact on your performance.

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