By Lisa Hancox, National Swimming and Training Manager, Fitness First Middle East
Although most swimmers have learned some form of freestyle, also known as front crawl, not many can appear to swim as effortlessly as they perhaps should. However there are two extremely easy things you can do in order to make sure your front crawl is as good as it can be.
1) Technique drills
Technique drills are essentially ingredients that will help you achieve maximum efficiency in the water.
Drill work heightens a swimmer’s sensitivity to the subtle changes in water pressure acting on the body. To swim effectively and efficiently, good swimmers will find the pulling path that creates the most resistance on the underside of the forearm and the palm.
The hands of ineffective swimmers tend to follow the path of least resistance due to a lack of strength to maintain the correct technique or because they simply don’t know the correct technique.
Drills are therefore suitable for swimmers of every level – the novice will learn the technique and the more advanced swimmer will be monitoring and refining what they are doing. In order to do this, every swimmer should understand what they are learning and how each drill fits into the full stroke.
Breathing while swimming is one of the biggest struggles for most human beings. The main reason for this is that when we are in the water, we do not fully exhale so we subconsciously keep the waste product of our breathing (carbon dioxide) in our lungs. However our body desperately wants to get rid of it so in the end, it turns into a fight between self-preservation and the physical design of our bodies.
Spend some time focusing on exhaling the right way and watch as the rest of your swimming game works out itself. Swimmers must remember to inhale deep and exhale fully, completing the final puff as they turn to breathe in. The lung cavity must be kept relaxed throughout any swim and all the stale air that has built up must be released through controlled exhalation.
Bilateral breathing (inhaling and exhaling from both sides of the swim strokes) is the best way forward as long as the stroke is symmetrical, because it helps the swimmer build a better balanced stroke. Breathing unilaterally (from only one side) can also, over a lifetime, develop muscle imbalances and contribute to soft tissue injuries.
The technique of breathing is important, but so is the exact timing of the breath. If it is out of sync then the whole stroke can fall out of balance. Many swimmers breathe too long, turn back to the water too early, or simply turn at the wrong time.
Remember this: when the head is in the perfect breathing position, one goggle will be in the water and one will be above the surface.
And there you have it. Two tips that will get your front crawl right back to the front of your game.