There is so much we can work on when mastering Freestyle. One aspect of the stroke that causes a lot of swimmers trouble is head position. Some swimmers tilt their heads up slightly either when they breathe or when their heads are in the water during their strokes. Some swimmers move their heads from side to side, never really finding that perfect alignment position. If any of my old coaches are reading the previous statement, they are all nodding along as I used to be extremely guilty of that one.
Breathing is a crucial part of swimming. Everyone knows this, but so many swimmers struggle to get it right. They often opt to lifting their heads forward or just keep their heads out of the water the entire time. These techniques not only make you less efficient in the water but can actually make your overall breathing significantly harder. Developing good breathing technique is one of the hardest thing for new or intermediate swimmers to master.
Backstroke is one of the more popular strokes to train in. It's similarities to Freestyle allow swimmers to cover significant distances at a greater speed. The ease of breathing attracts a lot of new swimmers to this particular stroke since you always have your face out of the water. However, did you know that not all backstroke is the same? I would like to introduce you to 3-peak Backstroke.
Learning how to pace medium to longer swims can be quite a difficult process. You need to have the perfect combination of distance per stroke and speed. Some swimmers can just naturally find that steady momentum throughout their entire swim. The rest of us have to learn how to control our speed while maintaining a solid stroke rate properly for an extended length of time.
I once had a coach tell me that the best way to swim is to imagine yourself as twice the size you are. Over my career as both an athlete and coach, I've seen a lot of swimmers who swim like individuals half their size. What I mean is that they shorten their strokes, especially in Freestyle or as some call it Front Crawl, which causes them to lose out on some much efficiency in the water. One big idea that I try to get swimmers to understand is the notion of swimming like someone twice their size.
Learning out to maintain that momentum is something that takes time and needs to be a formed habit. Think of it like a car, if you are driving consistently at a 100 km/h for a long period of time, then your car will use less fuel to get you there, but if you are slowing down and then speeding up, you are going to use more fuel that way. Your body is the same way during a race. If you can find a consistent rhythm and pace that works for you, you'll use less fuel meaning you have more to give at the end of a race for that potential touch out or record breaking touch.
There is a misconception about the proper breathing for Butterfly. Many swimmers tend to come out of the water as much as they can when breathing in fly. This causes their hips to sink in the water meaning they have to expend additional energy to drive their hips back up to the surface. The result is usually a short pause between each stroke. That short pause, even if it's just for a split second, can throw off your entire rhythm.