Swimming, like many sports, is reliant on your body mechanics.
If your body is not exactly symmetrical, or if you have one side stronger or more dominant that the other – as many of us do – then you’re going to have to work harder on perfecting your stroke technique.
Even though there are swimming aids out there like pull-buoys that help keep your hips elevated in the water, when you’re competing, it’s just you and your body and the years of training you’ve put into the sport that will pull you through.
One thing that will help with balance and staying focused is head position. In the water, your body should assume the same position as if you were standing, only horizontal. Therefore, your head position is relatively neutral and your focus will be looking down. The key here is to be aware of what’s coming up six feet in front of you. This will help keep you swimming in a straight line and stop you from drifting over into your competitor’s lane. The more aligned your body is, the more efficient you will be in the water, as no time will be wasted in correcting body position once you’re moving with great speed through the water.
Another important factor is your hand entry position into the water. Your fingers enter the water first at the halfway point between a full arm extension and the top of your head. Keeping your hand in line with your shoulder, work towards a 170° extension of the elbow at the top of your stroke. At this point, you want to flex your wrist at 30° before you pull back, using the elbow to drive this motion. Watch out for dropped elbows – one of the hardest techniques to master – keep your elbows set high and this will drive your pull back with more power and efficiency. You can use cables/pulleys, straps or resistance bands to perfect this move.
Spend some time focusing on each component of stroke technique before moving onto the next. So, practice some drills, using only your legs to propel you through the water, while you focus on body position, head position and where your eyes are focused. Once you’ve mastered this, practice hand entry position and a 170° extension of the elbow before moving onto set elbows and wrists and pullback. This will help you perfect each stage of stroke technique without carrying any mistakes into the next stage of your stroke technique.