If you are new to swimming freestyle (or front crawl) everything can seem a bit overwhelming with so many things to think about. For that reason it's really important to keep things super-simple when developing your stroke.
Here's five basic Swim Smooth visualisations to try, each focusing on a different part of the stroke.
Remember, only focus on one thing at once to see how it feels before moving on to the next:
Blow Those Bubbles!
When you are swimming face down it's important to continuously blow out into the water between breaths to the side. This gets rid of the CO2 build up in your system and it means when you rotate to the side to breath you only have to inhale in the short window available, not exhale and then inhale.
Visualise a smooth long exhalation through either the nose or mouth (whichever feels more natural). Here's Olympian Jono Van Hazel blowing bubbles into the water:
What to look for: Less tension in your body and better stamina. Also all those bubbles might be noisier than you are used to!
Straight Legs And Brush Your Toes
A gentle leg kick will help lift you high in the water but it's easy to burn a lot of energy and create a lot of drag with poor kicking technique.
To counter this think about keeping your legs straight as you swim. Point your toes as you kick gently and tap your big toes together as they pass.
What to look for: Less oxygen demand and more easy progress through the water.
Good Clearance Over The Surface
How you should recover your arms over the surface of the water is a debate that has rumbled on between swim coaches for decades. But the most important thing to remember is to keep that forward carry nice and relaxed, and try to get good clearance between your hand and the surface. If your hand and elbow are too low you might notice them hit the surface, lane rope or clash with other swimmers.
What to look for: An easy loose movement over the water, you might notice this challenging your range of motion in your chest, shoulder and lats.
Press Water Straight Backwards To The Wall Behind You
OK, now we're talking about creating forward propulsion through the water. From the very front of your arm stroke to the very back we're fundamentally trying to press the water backwards in order to push ourselves forwards. Push down, up or to the side and you are just wasting effort.
Visualise having a smiley face drawn on the palm of your hand and as you swim keep focused on it facing to the wall behind you:
More on this in our previous blog post: feelforthewater.com/2020/07/use-smiley-face-to-improve-your-swimming.html
What to look for: An easy and direct feeling to your pull through.
Keep A Sense Of Rhythm
Sometimes when we are working on our swimming we can get quite robotic in our movements as we're concentrating so hard. But fundamentally swimming should be fluid and rhythmical.
Try and swim with a sense of purpose and rhythm, perhaps turning your arms over a little faster than you might be used to. If your cadence is normally a bit on the slow side then speeding it up slightly can feel easier, not harder (counter-intuitive we know).
The ultimate tool to work on your rhythm is a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro in mode 3. Just place under your swim cap and swim to the beep (a bit like a metronome for musicians).
What to look for: An enjoyable connection with the water and a sensation of moving quicker without any additional effort.