The Key To Improving Your Swimming In A Single Picture

With many parts of the world starting to open up after the Covid-19 crisis, you might be able to return to swimming quite soon, probably first in open water. With that in mind, this week on the blog we thought we'd gently re-introduce the idea of how to go about improving your swimming when you do get those arms turning over again.

Firstly, do you know your Swim Type?

After observing tens of thousands of swimmers in action over 20 years of coaching, our Head Coach Paul Newsome identified 6 classic types of swimmer, from beginner right through to Olympian. We call this system Swim Types and it cleverly brings together your background, your natural build, your personality and your stroke technique into one cohesive picture. From that starting point we can address your weaknesses so you start improving.

Get started by discovering your type here: www.swimtypes.com

To get your brain cogs whirring, we thought we'd choose a simple visualisation for each Swim Type which sums up what you need to do to improve your swimming in a "big picture" holistic kind of way. Print it out, stick on your fridge, and every time you go to get the milk out you'll be reminded of what you need to work on.

How accurately does your image apply to your swimming?!

The Arnie

Arnies are the classic swimmers who fight the water when they swim. A large feature of the Arnie strokes is a crossover with the lead head crossing the centre line in front of the head. This causes you to snake down the pool, wasting a lot of energy in the process.

Here's the image we chose for you - it's of the very awesome Jono Van Hazel, extending straight forward in front of his shoulder:



Take this simple visualisation with you when you get back in the water, focus on extending straight and not crossing over and you'll immediately be setting off on the right pathway to improvement.

The Bambino

Bambis, this is yours:


For most Bambinos a lack of confidence is holding them back in the water. This directly impacts on your stroke technique which is normally overly gentle and lacking "oomph".

The next time you get back in the water visualise that you are in fact a swimming super-hero and swim with purpose and intent. You'll immediately feel good and your stroke technique will improve from great positivity. Go on, dive right in, you can do this!

The Kicktastic

As is pretty obvious from their name, Kicktastics have a strong tendency to over-kick when they swim. This reflects a lack of propulsion from their arm stroke - which happens because they pull through under the body with a very straight arm.

Kicktastics, your single visualisation is to bend the elbow and pull through with it bent to 100-120 degrees. The hand should track underneath the shoulder as it does so:



Not only does this create more propulsion but it engages the larger muscle groups of the back and chest, so feels easier too. The result is faster, easier swimming with less reliance on your kick.

The Overglider

OK guys, here's your visualisation:




What can you see? Nothing? Great! Give your google search engine a rest and stop thinking and over-analysing your swim stroke so much. Over-thinking when you swim is seriously holding you back, instead try using intuitive feel and your body's innate abilities to swim more naturally.

The Swinger

Swingers naturally swim with a high stroke rate - giving them great punch and rhythm to the stroke. This is a good thing but oftentimes they end up hurrying the catch at the front of the stroke, "tearing" at the water. Try this visualisation to smoothly engage with the water at this point and not overly hurry your movements:


OK we cheated a little and gave you a moving image but you get the idea - caress the water before driving with your usual sense of purpose once you stroke moves under your chest.

The Smooth

Smooths have all the natural ability in the world... but ironically them often lack motivation to make the most of this natural ability.

With that in mind, here's your visualisation:


Yes, we just want to see you back in the water! Overcome that lack of motivation by setting a solid goal that fires you up, get those competitive juices flowing again and actually get back in the blue stuff again!


Stay safe and well,

Swim Smooth!
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3 comments:

Jonas said...

Hello, I have a question: in the kicktastic section, on the very nice picture of the swimmer with a 110º angle, we can see very clearly that the fingers are not pointing vertically down, as trainers always tell us to do. This means that, because the lever formed by the forearm and the hand at that position is not perpendicular to the bottom of the pool, water is not perfectly pulled behind, as they also tell us to do. Or am I mistaken? Thank you.

Jonas said...

Hello, I have a question: in the kicktastic section, on the very nice picture of the swimmer with a 110º elbow bending, the finger tips are not pointing perpendicularly down to the bottom of the pool. Thus it doesn't seem the lever formed by the forearm and the hand is pulling completely backwards, as Swim Smooth tells us to do, right? Or am I wrong?

Adam Young said...

Hi Jonas,

Some coaches do ask you to point your fingers vertically downwards in this position but it's not necessary and we prefer for the swimmer to focus on other more important aspects of the stroke.

For reference, that's double Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington in that shot - who swam 4:05 for 400m - clearly not a problem for her! The hand still faces perfectly backwards, so it is still a direct pull backwards.

I hope that clarifies! Adam

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