Why do some swimmers constantly improve and others don’t? What should you do if you’ve hit a ‘plateau’ in your swimming, where you can’t increase your speed or improve your endurance? If you’ve been swimming for a number of years, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Over the years, I’ve found there is one way to guarantee you break through the plateau. Let me explain…
Burning through the water
With only two ways to increase your speed in the water, we often complicate things when trying to go faster. We can increase our stroke rate (move our arms and legs faster) or we can increase our efficiency (reduce the resistance our body creates in the water). This isn’t as easy as it sounds though.
Faster strokes (important to do, but there’s a catch)
Most swimmers (including myself) find the easiest way to increase swim speed is to increase our stroke rate. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s vital if you’re swimming with speed. The only problem is it’s energy consuming, particularly if your kick increases with your arm speed. It’s possible to swim freestyle and backstroke with a high stroke rate and not use too much energy if your kicking remains relaxed and small, but in general stroking faster isn’t the way to break through a plateau in swimming.
What does efficiency do?
Efficiency in swimming means to get further from each stroke taken by increasing your propulsion and reducing your resistance. Put simply, if you get a better ‘catch’ of the water with your stroke and you reduce the amount of drag your body creates in the water, you’ll get faster. This can be difficult to do on your own. If you’re not aware of the common technique errors and how to fix them, your swimming will likely be the same in two years as it is now, even if your train your heart out.
Swimming technique the right way
There are 3 ways to improve your technique. In no particular order:
- Visualize yourself swimming with the right technique – Some people might pass this off as airy fairy, pie in the sky way of improving. Don’t. You’ll be rewarded for using this.The premise of it is to watch a swimmer with good technique, commit their technique to memory and when you are in the water swimming, visualise your self swimming as they do. Watch videos of Michael Phelps, Sam Ashby, Ian Thorpe or whoever you feel best suits your own technique.I used this technique in my most recent 200 Individual Medley race. The result? I swam a PB, my technique was controlled throughout the race and I wasn’t spent at the end.
- Drills – This is one of the best known tactics for fixing technique. It not only works tremendously well but it improves your technique automatically if you do the drills correctly. A good example of this my Mastering Freestyle Program which runs through the exact step-by-step formula I use to improve the freestyle technique of all the swimmers I coach.
- Learning what not to do – Coaches find the same errors repeated again and again. If you were to attend a swimming class and you watched the freestyle of 10 different swimmers, you’d find that the same errors would pop up in each swimmer.I realised that if swimmers knew what they were doing wrong, they could identify what was slowing them down and begin to work on it.This lead to It’s Not About Swimming Harder, a new product where I teach you what NOT to do, so you can see the most common errors which plague swimmers, so you can avoid these mistakes and create a breakthrough in your swimming.
If you’re ready to hear the ‘down and dirty’ of why most swimmers never have a breakthrough in their speed and endurance, check out It’s Not About Swimming Harder. This program will show you the exact strategies I’ve used to help swimmers take their speed and technique to a new level. I think it’s the best product on the market that cuts straight to the point, giving you what you need to hear about how to become a better swimmer (even if you do the sport solely because it’s fun!).