Baffled by swim technique?

It's very easy to get too much advice about your swimming and it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by all the information out there. Here are my top tips to success:

  • Stick to one ‘voice’ when you’re trying to make a change. Find a coach or teacher that you feel understands you and what you are trying to achieve. Someone who is understanding but who will also challenge you.

  • Do avoid too much extra input from Youtube and online forums - you’ll only confuse the issue and mix up messages with those being delivered by your coach. Each coach has a slightly different way of verbalising instructions and delivering information but a good coach can adapt and change to what you need or should be able to find a different way to help you.

  • Focus on technique first and then build distance and speed.

  • Don’t forget to build some technique work into every swim session, even just as part of your warm up - it will keep you focussed on important form when you do the main part of your set.

  • Don’t thrash poor technique - avoid a coach who never sees you swim (remotely by video or in person) and just sets you interval sets. If you are swimming with poor technique you may see an initial improvement in swim times by doing interval work but two things will eventually happen: you’ll get really bored and fed up by just trashing up and down the pool; your technique will deteriorate and you will plateau or become slower in the long term.

  • A good coach can help you enjoy your swimming or find a new focus in it. Many people tell me that they don’t enjoy swimming but that’s because their single goal is to swim non-stop or in long blocks every session - even I would get bored swimming if that’s all I did. Injecting some variety into your swimming can help you find pleasure in it as well as help to improve it.

Alice Barnes