10 Tips for Swimmers Looking to Improve Their Swimming Performance

There are many ways swimmers can improve their swim performance. Professional swimmers can improve their swim speed, for example, when competing with other players or preparing for a competition like a triathlon. Improving swimming technique involves decreasing drag, improving balance, and swimming taller, amongst other tips.

Swimmers can use the following checklist of 10 items to learn the basic methods of swim improvement, like swimming frequently and achieving a better body position. The first obvious step for swimmers is to get to the pool and get swimming.

Swim Frequently

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When swimmers don't average about three swims a week into their schedule, they tend to lose the feel for the water and their technique begins to deteriorate. This results in no feel, no technique, and no speed.

Swimmers might be doing a great swim workout once or twice a week, but for most swimmers, that is not enough. When there is an option between doing one or two long workouts, versus three or four shorter workouts, swimmers seem to perform better when they do the latter. This is because swimmers will swim more frequently as opposed to only having a few longer workouts each week.

It is recommended for beginners to workout in the pool three to five times a week for 20-30 minutes.

Swim With Good Technique

Swimmers should aim to maintain the best possible technique at all speeds during a workout.

If swimmers try to go fast with poor technique, they are wasting energy. While it might still be a good fitness workout, because swimmers are burning calories and getting their heart rate up, they are not helping themselves to become a better swimmer.

Swimmers should teach themselves how to go fast while using good technique, which will create bigger gains. For example, mastering a freestyle breathing technique, having a good body rotation, and putting their hand in the water at the right angle ( goggle line) are all ways to improve swimming technique.

Make Drills a Part of Every Swimming Workout

It's important for swimmers to do a combination of specific technique work to reinforce good swimming skills. This can be done before, during, or after a swimming workout.

Performing swim strokes and paying attention to hands, arms, elbows, shoulders, and other parts of the body can help increase a swimmer's awareness in the water. In particular, making drills a part of a swim workout will help swimmers develop a better technique.

Swimmers can focus on a drill that improves their swimming skill, whether that's increasing speed or working on their weakness. For instance, swimmers can work on balancing on their side by doing kicking drills. Swimmers can practice different types of freestyle exercises, like the closed-fist freestyle, head-up freestyle, or freestyle with dolphin kicks.

Practice Challenging Workouts

Swimmers can practice challenging workouts one or two times a week to improve their overall performance.

Depending on how frequently they swim, adding various workouts can help swimmers focus on specific improvements. If all of their workouts are focused on technique, it will improve, but there are other challenges for swimmers to face, such as:

  • Learning how to swim faster without getting tired or having technique deteriorate
  • Practicing intervals and drills to increase endurance and general swim fitness
  • Testing out various swim strokes, freestyles, and levels of intensity such as improving distance per stroke ratio

Accomplish Easy Workouts

Depending upon the swimmer's goals, there may be no reason to do more than one or two tough workout sets per week. As long as swimmers perform a few easier workouts during the week, only having one or two challenging sessions is acceptable.

Overall improvement in swimming will occur when swimmers work hard on the more advanced workouts as well as accomplish easier workouts on a weekly basis. Both types of workouts compliment each other, creating good results.

Swimmers, for instance, can use minimum equipment for a beginner or intermediate swimming workout involving 400-800 yards several times a week. For advanced workouts, swimmers can swim a distance of 1650 yards once or twice a week.

Perform Streamlines

A streamlined form is used underwater during swimming strokes. While it might be a start, a push-off, or a turn, swimmers should always do things the same way. That is, swimmers should streamline, then go into the transition between the streamline and swimming.

It's always important for swimmers to streamline first. Getting better at pushing off of the wall is the simplest way to decrease overall time for a set distance of swimming. It does not improve fitness, but it does make swimmers perform better overall. 

Leave the Wall the Same Way Every Time

It's important for swimmers to always push off the walls the way they would if they were coming out of a turn. In fact, when starting a set, swimmers should push off the wall exactly the same way that they would be pushing off the wall if they were coming out of a turn. Most races have more turns than starts, and getting some extra practice with any part of a turn is a bonus.

During professional relays, swimmers should be mindful of taking off early by noticing when and how their feet leave the block before the next swimmer touches the wall. While swimmers are allowed to move, time is of the essence because false starts tend to occur when the swimmer does not swim all the way toward the wall.

Wear a Swimsuit Made for Competitive Swimming

Swimmers should invest in a swimsuit made for competitions. While this doesn't mean spending money on the latest and greatest high-tech slicker-than-skin piece of swim wear, it also means not wearing baggy beach shorts.

The type of swimsuit a swimmer gets will either hurt or help overall swimming technique. If a swimmer wants to improve their technique or is trying to learn how to hold technique when going faster, the right swimsuit will make a difference.

There are times to wear a swimsuit that gives a swimmer some extra drag, but this is not before they have mastered a good technique.

Ask Someone to Watch You Swim

Swimmers can ask their friends, family members, or swim colleagues to watch them swim or record a video of them.

Getting someone else to watch a swimmer while moving throughout a pool often yields great feedback on swimming technique that the swimmer may not have seen before. Reviewing the feedback and testing it in the next swim allows swimmers to adjust as needed and help them become better swimmers.

Use Flippers Occasionally

Swim fins or flippers can help swimmers achieve a better body position. They also assist swimmers in learning what the position feels like while moving.

When the flippers are off, swimmers can try to recreate positions by feel, since they will already have a better idea of what it feels like. Training with swim fins improves ankle flexibility, lower kick frequency, and reduce the amount of work it takes to swim faster.