Glide is a word that is synonymous with swimming, especially swimming effortlessly. Athletes always say that they want to glide through the water, talking about making their swimming easier. But actually gliding might not be such good thing when you want to swim faster and stronger.

Glide freestyle

What Does The Word Glide Mean?

The word glide means to move smoothly and continuously along, as if without effort or resistance. The problem with swimming is that you are always going to have resistance (even if you reduce it as far as humanly possible), so the moment you stop providing propulsion – or more likely have stops or pauses in you stroke – then you will be slowing down.

If your body slows down as you move through the water (rather than maintaining steady momentum) you have two issues; firstly your body will sink in the water slightly – adding resistance and also making it more difficult to breath. Secondly, if you are slowing down it takes more effort, power and control to generate the extra speed. This tends to cause issues like dropping your elbows, or grabbing at the water

Instead, you should focus on keeping your hands and arms moving at all times. That doesn’t mean that they need to be moving fast, but constant motion (with a good hold on the water) should lead to constant movement in your swimming. I like to think of a freestyle (or backstroke or butterfly too) pull as similar to that of a cam mechanism – the wheel is always turning, but the movement of the mechanism comes at different speeds depending on the part of the cycle.

 

If your hold on the water is good, then think about placing your hand in the water “softly”, displacing and splashing as little water as possible. From here you can engage automatically with the water, get your elbow high and wide and then accelerate the water back toward your hips. The smoother you go through this action, the less hard you have to work and the better propulsion you get.

Takeaway

To feel like you’re gliding through the water is good. But unless you are swimming breaststroke then you don’t really want to glide while swimming each individual stroke. Think about constant movement, even if your hands move a little slower around the entry point of your stroke.

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