Activities Sports & Athletics How to Increase Swimming Speed and Efficiency Swim Fast via Increased Swimming Power and / or Decreased Swimming Drag Share PINTEREST Email Print swimming in a crowded pool. Getty Images / David Madison Sports & Athletics Swimming & Diving Technique Gear Workouts Health & Safety Diving Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Golf Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Mat Luebbers Mat Luebbers is head coach and program director for the Marine Corps Community Services' Okinawa Dolphins Swim Team in Japan. He has a master's degree in sports science. our editorial process Mat Luebbers Updated May 14, 2018 Swimmers usually want to swim fast or swim more efficiently at some point. To swim fast means swimming a set distance in less time once in a while. Swimming more efficiently means swimming a workout or a race distance in the same amount of time but at a lower energy cost. To swim fast, either swim a distance faster or swim that distance with the same speed but using less energy... and then there is the "I want it all" swimmer. They want to swim fast and swim efficiently; that could happen, too, and will in the best case. The Swim Fast Equation? What is your number-one goal? What distance or event do you want to conquer? There are many reasons why swimmers want to improve speed, whether it's for a faster 100-meter or better open-water time at their next triathlon. Whatever the goal, you can't argue with science to improve your swimming speed and efficiency. Maximizing forward speed How to do that? By reducing things that limit forward speed and increasing things that promote forward speed. What limits swimming speed? TechniqueDragWalls or Turns What promotes swimming speed? TechniquePowerWalls Those two lists aren't that much different. What does each item do to (or for) a swimmer? Technique Good technique helps a swimmer minimize drag caused by the action of swimming. It also maximizes the amount of force that the swimmer transfers from their body to the water to propel themselves forward. Bad technique has the opposite effect, increasing drag and decreasing efficiency. Drag Seems like everyone hears that minimizing drag is easier than maximizing power. It is easier to slip through the water than it is to overpower the water. Doubling speed quadruples drag. So do all you can to minimize drag. Appropriate body roll, good swimming body alignment, and properly fitting swimsuits all help. Power It takes some strength to swim, but you do not have to do dry land strength training to be a strong swimmer (you can, but you do not have to). Just having perfect technique doesn't make a swimmer fast. They might be efficient, but probably not fast. Swimmers need to develop strength so they can apply force to the water, using their good technique, moving them forward. Walls or Turns If you have to turn around because you arrive at a wall, that means you have stopped moving forward (not all bad - could be a chance for you to get some extra air) A wall also could be a chance to get turned around and re-build your speed in the opposite direction. A good push-off while you are in a streamline will get you moving faster than you can go when swimming. Practice things that will help you increase your forward speed. That includes technique and strength. Swim on!