5 Simple Tips to Swim Faster

Jun 04, 2024
how to swim faster

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Figuring out how to swim faster is a coin with many sides. There are technical modifications, training considerations, and competitive motivations that all play a part in this equation! This article will lay out some simple tips that help cover a broad range of topics and approaches to start getting those swim times down for better training and triathlon starts.

The Importance of the Swim

The swimming portion of a triathlon is what gets us started—it sets the tone for the entire race. Failing to perform off the bat is not only a massive disadvantage in terms of field placement, strategy, and overall performance in triathlon, but mentally it is a huge blow, as well. If you know you’re weak in the swim, the rest of your attributes sit on a shaky foundation.

A slow swim also (very likely) means you’re wasting a lot of energy at the beginning of your race. Your technique is probably inefficient in all sorts of terrible ways, setting you up for fatigue, lack of focus, and a higher risk of injury while cycling and running. Learning how to swim faster makes everything better, so let’s learn some ways to do it.

5 Simple Tips to Swim Faster

As previously mentioned, a faster swim can (and needs to) be achieved in a number of ways. It comes down to well-rounded performance as a triathlete, and that means paying attention to different parts of your game. These 5 tips will each touch on a different component of swimming/triathlon, they are:

  1. Technique
  2. Swimming strategy
  3. Muscular endurance
  4. Muscular power
  5. Competition

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1. Technique: Reduce Drag

The most obvious way to swim faster is to reduce your drag. Drag refers to the forces that slow us down in the water. You’re trying to propel yourself forward, and the water is trying to slow you down. Certain full body swimsuits (the LZR Racer, for example) have been banned from olympic competition because they are too good at reducing drag, to the point that they’re seen as technical doping by many sport governing bodies.

Tips to Reduce Drag

  • Maintain a horizontal body position
  • Keep a neutral spine/head position
  • Wear a swim cap & fitted swimsuit
  • Keep kicks small & in-line with your body
  • Swim high on the water (along the surface)

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2. Strategy: Fast Wall Approach

If you’re doing laps for training and/or competing in pools, a helpful tip when learning how to swim faster is to speed up your wall approach. Many swimmers/triathletes have the tendency to slow down as they approach the wall in preparation for their turn, this is a mistake. It comes down to your competency in the water. We don’t want to slow down (ever), we want to speed up.

Tips to Approach the Wall Quicker

  • Keep your head down for at least 2 strokes prior to reaching the wall
  • Increase kicking speed & lengthen neck/swim stroke just before the wall
  • Kick through your breakout to maintain speed gained off the wall
  • Dolphin kick while underwater for even more speed
  • Think about attacking the wall on your approach & flip turn

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3. Muscular Endurance: Core

A strong, stable, highly-trained set of core muscles is what is going to help you maintain a good body position as you push your stroke/kick rates higher and higher. Your arms and legs both attach to your torso, and they rely on its stability and action as a strong foundation with which to move off of. Here are some tips on how to build a core that can do it all when it comes to swimming and triathlon.

Tips for Developing Your Core

  • Focus on building both strength & endurance in your core muscles
  • Remember that your lower back is part of your core; train it accordingly
  • Train your core in isolation, as well as in concert with the integration of your limbs
  • Focus on timed holds in positions such as the hollow position
  • Perform contralateral core exercises (alt. leg/arm) that mimic swimming

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4. Muscular Strength: Strength Training for Swimmers

Swimming is a unique sport in that it is performed in a semi-weightless environment. Swimmers tend to have lower bone-density than other athletes for this reason. Triathletes are somewhat insulated from this because of the cycling and running components. Regardless, muscular strength is incredibly important when it comes to overall performance and learning how to swim faster.

Tips for Becoming a Stronger Swimmer

  • Train full-body, compound movements for total body strength & integration
  • Use a combination of bodyweight & external weight exercises
  • Try strength-circuit training to combine strength & endurance components of fitness
  • Add HIIT sessions to your schedule to improve strength, power, and cardiac output
  • Try Dynamic Triathlete’s strength training programming for an easy-to-follow structure

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5. Competition: Iron Sharpens Iron

If you really want to push your times and teach yourself how to swim faster, you need to be pitting yourself (regularly) against people who can swim faster than you. There are different ways to accomplish this, but all with the same goal. You need to cross-reference where you are compared to where you were previously + the times of others with similar levels of experience and in the same age-category.

Tips for Healthy Competition

  • Sign up for races regularly to stretch your limits & test yourself against live competition
  • Post your swim times on fitness apps like Strava to compare yourself locally & globally
  • Find a training partner who will keep you accountable; push each other to be better
  • Join a swim group so you can regularly compete against real people in the water
  • Track your times to reference whether a given approach is working or needs changing

Train Pain-Free | Dynamic Triathlete

Are you tired of trying to piece together your training and constantly playing catch-up when it comes to stretching, mobility, and strength training? Thousands of triathletes worldwide feel the same way, and that’s why they joined Dynamic Triathlete. Easy-to-follow, high quality training routines—neatly organized and available 24/7 on your phone or desktop.

Sign up for a 7-day free trial by CLICKING HERE!

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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