How To Improve Your Freestyle Swimming

5 common mistakes people always make

1: Low Elbow Arm Stroke

If you have a low elbow arm stroke you will not catch enough water and usually will just pull from the surface. Arm strokes are the most important element. Performing a correct arm stroke will allow you to pull more water and propel you quicker.

How to fix a low elbow arm stroke:

  • Turn your forearm inwards so your elbow is facing upwards
  • On the first phase of the stroke. Move your forearm downwards keeping your elbow in a high position
  • Then continue through and use your entire arm to complete the stroke

Exercises to help:

  • Put a chair in front of you and perform the correct arm stroke. It should not feel like you’re pulling a rope. With your elbow high it should feel like you are pushing the chair behind you. Try and video yourself doing this so you get to see if you are performing the drill correctly or not.

2: Performing an arm stroke while taking a breath

A common mistake most swimmers make is taking a breath while performing an arm stroke. This causes you to lose control of your arm stroke. You want to breath while one out is out in front and the other hand is in recovery.

How to fix performing and arm stroke while taking a breath:

  • Firstly, practice on dry land to get a feel for the movements. When your arm performs the catch your body will naturally turn and that’s when you take your breath.
  • Remember that you can’t perform a proper arm stroke while taking a breath.
  • Start a new arm stroke only when your head returns to the neutral position

3: Lifting your head to take a breath

Many swimmers start swimming without a coach they succeed but sometimes they can lack basic breathing techniques. Lifting your head to breathe is a mistake and will slow you down in the water and make it a lot harder for you to swim faster.

How to fix

Imagine you have a line going from your back to the front of your lead arm. You can only move your head on that line. Turning it from side to side.

Exercises to help:

  • Start on dry land and practice turning your head to breathe while performing strokes.
  • In the water kick against the wall and put one hand on the wall and the other hand by your side.
  • Try this drill for 30 seconds at a time.
  • Aim to keep one eye underwater while taking a breath.

4: Short arm stokes

Another common mistake is to take short arm strokes. By performing short arm strokes, you are making swimming a lot harder.

How to fix short arm strokes:

While performing the arm stroke you should feel your hand touch your leg on the way back. If you cannot feel this then your stroke is too short.

5: Excessive bending at the knees

The final mistake in the article today (there are lots more) is having excessive bending at the knees. Your kicks should not come from your knees as this will take a lot of energy and slow down your speed. Kicking doesn’t provide a lot of speed boost and saps a lot of energy so if you’re competing in triathlon for example you want to keep your legs for the bike & run disciplines.

How to fix excessive bending at the knees:

Try to swim with your legs straight. Kicking should be too high and ideally within body streamline.

Exercises to help.

  • Kicking in vertical position. This will ensure that your legs are straight because if you bend at the knees too much then you will not be able to hold the position
  • Try this drill out for 30 seconds at a time and remember the feeling when you move onto your swim practice.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this blog and if you have any of these mistakes then the tips I have shared can help. Let me know in the comments if you found these useful. Or if you didn’t either way it would be good to hear from you.