A lot of swimmers believe that the only way to improve in freestyle is by practicing freestyle. What they’re forgetting is that swimming is very much a technique sport, and a matter of getting comfortable and relaxed in the water.
By practicing strokes other than freestyle, you’ll improve your confidence in the water as well as become more buoyant and efficient. But what are some of the best strokes to improve in freestyle and what else can you do to isolate and correct weak points?
First, when performing any stroke, you want to be conscious of how the water hits your body. It takes practice, but if you pay attention you can actually feel the different spots on your body that water is pressing against. In order to glide through the water as quickly as possible you want as few pressure points as possible. By practicing freestyle and other strokes with this in mind, you can fine tune your stroke mechanics to minimize the spots where you feel water pressure.
The breaststroke helps swimmers get really comfortable in the water and is fairly low intensity. Here you’re not going for speed: Instead, you want to try and streamline and glide through the water with very little splash or movement.
Once you’ve gone through the stroke, then kicked and re-submerged your head, work on lengthening your body and shooting through the water like a torpedo. Staying in the water longer will cause you to float higher and thus create less resistance. The best swimmers in the world are able to fully extend their bodies, which gives them the ability to propel themselves further using less energy.
The backstroke is useful for enhancing buoyancy. Keep your stomach and hips high up in the water. When done properly, this will cause your torso to float upward. This same principal can be utilized in freestyle: It’s more of a challenge because your face is submerged most of the time, but if you practice it with the backstroke it’s easier to replicate in the opposite position.
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