Learning to be a balanced swimmer can be a lifelong task. Balance will not only help you in the water but help you build stability and strength outside of the water as well. Having great Freestyle is based on a solid body line, but sometimes swimmers mask their instabilities in the water by using their arms or legs to support them. This gives the impression that a swimmer has good position, but is really just developing extremely bad habits. Here is an exercise that swimmers can do every practice to help them learn balance. There are several different techniques you can use to help build balance in your stroke. You can use things like snorkels, but we want to offer up an alternative method without the use of additional equipment.
What do we mean balance swimmer?
When we talk about being balanced in swimming. We are referring the body's position in relation to the surface of the water. We want to have our bodies parallel to the surface at all phases of the stroke. If you tilt your body ever so slightly, you will increase the body surface that you are creating more drag, and will need to increase your power to overcome that drag.
What to do
To work on your balance, start by swimming Freestyle without your kick. Instead keep your legs together and toes pointed. Essentially, you are swimming as if you are doing a pull set. However, don't use a pull buoy for this drill. You want to fully engage your core so that you learn how to truly balance in the water, which is different for everyone. Do this for several laps so that you get a strong feel for your balanced state. Then continue by adding in your legs again while trying to maintain that balance and rotation.
If you feel you need some sort of equipment to aid you in doing this drill properly. We recommend a simple ankle band. It won't add any buoyancy but will keep your legs together.
The Finer Points
You may notice that your legs will want to sink. There are a few things you can do prevent this while also mastering your balance. The first is that you need some velocity to help keep things in line. This means that to execute this drill, you can't go too slow. The next option for keeping your legs from sinking is to tighten your core to keep your line rigid. This is also great for working on your core strength.
As mentioned, once you start adding your legs back into your stroke, make sure that your kick is now more propulsive rather than supportive. This will help you feel more balanced, add to your efficiency in the water and make you a stronger overall swimmer. You'll be achieving a more parallel body position.