Good body positioning is truly important to swimming because of how alien water is to move through for us as humans. Strong swim posture is key to getting this right.
Growing up – and at various points in your life – it’s likely you have been told to stand up straight or not to slouch. That same advice should be carried to the water, where your swim posture significantly affects body position. Posture can also affect neck/back pain – and possibly more importantly, your power output. Remember, swim proud!
First, pay attention to your head position. If your head is too high or too low, your hips and legs will drop and cause drag. Try this: lie flat on the water, arms out in front (streamlined) and head between your arms. Don’t forget to point your toes! Vary your eyeline and where you are looking, and see if it changes the level of your legs and feet. Try looking straight ahead – with your eyes on the waterline, and go all the way down until your chin is on your chest. Everyone will have a slightly different sweet spot – but the majority of people will find that they need to look down – or more likely lengthen their neck and stand a bit taller than they have done previously. This will also help create a bow wave off of your head and a subsequent pocket of air to easily breathe into.
In the photo above, you can see how when the eyes are looking down, it’s far easier to stretch the neck and body long but more importantly keep the legs afloat with minimum effort.
Let’s look closer at the role of your core in the water. If your core lacks engagement during freestyle you will likely feel a disconnect in your stroke. Your core should function as the connecting piece of your upper and lower body, allowing for symmetry in which your shoulders and hips are rotating together on the same plane, and also as a driver to make your stroke move forward. Imagine extending the crown of your head toward the wall ahead, while also extending your toes to the wall behind you. Additionally you can focus on drawing your belly button toward your spine, and squeezing your buttocks (I encourage athletes to imagine that they have a £50 note between the cheeks). This helps to create length in the torso and tautness in the core to stabilise the spine.
Balance and symmetry
It’s easy to unintentionally roll your shoulders forward and “slouch” during freestyle. Focus on controlling everything from the hip and engaging your core to keep everything as stable and strong as possible (see above) . By remaining tight through your core and stretching your spine you can help recruit the bigger muscle groups of your back for the entire pull. Also by stretching from the hip rather than the shoulder, it also helps to eliminate an arm cross-over in front of your head. Among many things, a cross-over can cause your legs to scissor open wide or fishtail in an attempt to counter-balance your body. I love side kick as a drill to work on this – with the focus being on stacking the shoulders one on top of the other. This will force you to engage your core muscles, improve your kick efficiency and reinforce that strong body position.
Build these elements of swim posture into your stroke steadily – focus on one thing at a time and within a few sessions you’ll begin to notice a difference.
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.
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