We Don’t Want To Glide #SwimTechTues

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.


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.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Distance Per Stroke – Extend Front To Back #SwimTechTues

Distance per stroke is a commonly used phrase with swimming and triathlon. But many athletes don’t fully understand what it means.

When swimmers see DPS, they immediately think, “Oh, that means that I should just extend my arm more and glide more.” While you will go farther doing this, you are making two critical errors.

Firstly, by extending through your shoulders. You are not only straining your shoulders, you are also not reaching as far as you could.

The key to DPS is understanding that it is primarily a rotational drill. To extend to your fullest, you should rotate your hips while extending forward. By doing so, you will get at least two inches farther and thus have a more efficient stroke. You should be aiming for a straight line from your hip to your elbow and on to your hand.

Secondly, swimmers like to glide because they feel that they will get the most distance. When you glide however, you are slowing down and creating a dead zone in front of you. If you are in a strong current, you will actually move backwards. When practicing DPS, therefore, do not slow down and glide.

Distance Per Stroke


Instead, after rotating and extending, start your high elbow pull in a controlled fashion and drive forward rotating and extending with the other hip. Then repeat the catch and pull on the other side. Your hands should almost always be in motion – just not necessarily at the same speed.

Finally, the biggest thing that will have an impact on the distance you travel for each stroke: anchoring on the water. If your hands slice through the water like a knife through butter, it really doesn’t matter how far you reach or rotate. Focus on engaging your hands and forearms on the water to press it back behind you – as a result you will travel further and faster every single time.

Next time you see DPS on your workout be sure to a) extend through rotation, b) don’t emphasize the glide, and c) focus on extension from the front all the way to the back of your stroke. By focusing on those three points, you will be faster and more efficient for it.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Swim Smooth – Avoiding The Fall #SwimTechTues

Swim Smooth, Swim Consistent

While there are many examples of great swimmers loping, or falling, into the water after a breath; for most of us normal swimmers, it’s a much better idea to maintain a direct and stable body position while swimming freestyle – we want to aim to swim smooth.


Why Do It?

Many swimmers push themselves up and out of the water for the breath, which often causes them to settle, or fall, into the water after the breath.  This can give them a feeling of strength and rhythm, but can also lead to the need to go UP for the next breath, or to just get the shoulder out of the water on the next recovery.  This drill will help you identify and minimize any up-and-down movement.

Swim Smooth

Get used to keeping your head still and ensuring that your arms push the water back, not down.

How To Do It?

1. The best way to learn how to avoid the fall is to swim without breathing.
2. Feel the stability of the head, and how it drives directly forward.
3. As you start to add the breath, focus on a simple rotation of the head, rather than pushing the head UP to air.
4. This will take particular focus on the lead arm while you’re breathing. How much weight is pushing on that arm during the extension or glide?


How To Do It Really Well (The Fine Points)

Double breathing, or triple breathing can help you maintain a direct and stable body line. If you’re unable to rotate from one side to the other quickly and within the set rhythm of your stroke, then you may be leaning too much to one side… and potentially “falling” in the water after you breathe.

Remember… the goal of this focus point is to send all of your energy forward, not up and down. Even Jason Lezak (US Olympic gold medal winner) said one of the reasons he went so fast in 2008 was because he reduced the up and down.


Take your time with learning this – as with any skill. The point is that drills are there to make you smoother, stronger, more efficient. Make sure you hit all those target points!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here!

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!