To have a good freestyle swim, you must master the 4 components – breathing, kick, arm stroke and body position. Each of these components must be strong in order to give you a good and efficient stroke. If one of these pillars are weak, your stroke will be compromised. To have a good freestyle stroke, all 4 must come together.
If you are breathing correctly, you can go on and on without the need to stop. However, if you constantly find the need to stop to catch your breath, even over the shorter distances, it’s time to take a look at your breathing techniques. The golden rule here is to never ever hold your breath. Always maintain a gentle exhalation when your face is in the water. Remember that exhalation should be about 2-3 seconds and you should never completely empty your lungs. When you tilt your head up, inhale quickly. This should be the correct breathing technique.
Remember, swimming is about active floating. Your body needs to learn to float – naturally. Your energy should be spend moving forward, not moving your body upwards to float. This is similar to running – where energy should be spend propelling your body forward instead of vertically upwards. Thus, learning how to float is one of the pillars of swimming. Remember to not push your butt up but push your hips down with a slight arch on your back. This will prevent your body from sinking. And remember to always look down not up and forward. This is to maintain a straight body position.
The kick should be a gentle fluid flow, like a dolphin rather than a rough scissors motion. Your foot should only move up and down approximately 12 inches. Anything more will cause unwanted drag and make your underwater pull less efficient. Your kick should be like a flutter kick – one of a quick tempo.
Photo Credits: Annie Emmerson
Maximize each arm stroke by pulling it all the way to your thighs! This is to get a maximum pull. When your hands are going back into the water, your palms should not hit the water surface hard, but more of cutting into the water. Also, ensure your hands and arms do not cross over the centre of your body. These are all little techniques to give you a good stroke.
These are the 4 pillars that you would need to master for a good swim technique!