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4 tips to swim more efficiently
By Alice Novotny
Edward Health & Fitness Adult Aquatic Coordinator

When the temperatures rise, nothing feels better than hitting the cool, refreshing water for a good swimming workout in the pool.  However, like most sports, research and technology are constantly changing swimming technique. If you haven't kept up with the changes in the last decade, you can probably use a little help to swim faster with less effort.

There are many changes to basic freestyle, which may look like the same stroke you learned years ago, but in reality it is totally different.  Here are a few tips to think about when you hit the water this summer:

1.    Change your body and head position. You want to maintain a neutral spine and neck position at all times. In order to do this, your eyes should be looking directly at the bottom below you with only the crown of your head out of the water. Due to the proximity of your lungs, you will need to apply pressure to the upper portion of the body, (the air in our lungs is what makes us float) which will, at first, make you feel like you are swimming downhill.  This will give you a nice, level body position so you can skim your body across the top of the water rather than drag the lower half of your body through the water like a barge.

2.    Add hip rotation. You should never be flat on your stomach when swimming freestyle. I like to use the analogy of the spine and head as the axis of our body. Your hips and shoulders (hips lead) are going to partially rotate around the axis of your body with each arm stroke giving you more power, a more aerodynamic position, and a more efficient arm pull and recovery.

3.    Put emphasis on the front portion of the stroke. When I learned to swim, many years ago, the emphasis for the pull portion of the stroke was on the finish. Today's swimmers put the emphasis on the front portion of the stroke. While one arm is initiating the pull with a high bent elbow and no bend at the wrist, allowing the entire hand and forearm to catch water, the other arm is in a long straight glide position in front of the shoulder. This will put the swimmer in a nice, streamline, aerodynamic position to glide the body through with each powerful stroke.

4.    Keep your hand in a natural position. The hand should be in a nice natural position, no curling fingers, no bent wrist, no pressing the fingers together. The hand should enter the water fingertips first, not thumb or pinky finger first. Your hand should be directly in front of your shoulder, not in front of your head. Again many years ago, we crossed over center line, now we never cross center line. On the entry and pull portion of the arm movement the hand should stay in line or even slightly outside the shoulder.

These are just a few tips to get you started swimming. Take one tip at a time and work at it until you think you have it, rather than trying to incorporate all of the changes at once. Most importantly, get in the water and enjoy its natural invigorating, soothing and relaxing qualities.

Swimming programs offered through Edward Health & Fitness
From the novice to expert, Edward Health & Fitness offers adult swimming programs for every level

  • Don't Fear the Water is taught in our therapy pools which are 90 to 92 degrees, and is designed to help anyone who needs to overcome the fear of putting their face in the water, taking their feet off the bottom of the pool, and standing up from a front and back float.
  • Ripples is Edward's learn to swim program. This class is for beginners to swimmers that have not kept up with the changes to freestyle. Individuals will progress at their own pace as they grasp each concept.
  • Stroke Clinic continues to work on proper technique for freestyle and backstroke. You'll learn many new drills to perfect your stroke and become more efficient in the water.
  • WAVES is an adult swim team that allows you to swim for fitness and/or competition, once you've conquered the above classes.  Edward offers 24 coached practice times per week. Each practice has a focus, whether it is beginner or advanced, technique, interval or distance you are guaranteed a good workout.


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801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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