Swimming is one of the most popular exercises for a reason: It’s low-impact, it makes your heart pound and it works every muscle in your body. It’s also a great cardiovascular workout and it can help strengthen your heart and lungs (Wilson, 2017). But while you might think that it takes a lot of effort to just stay above water, there are many things that you can do to make your swim more efficient.
The key to effective swimming is having the right form, which involves focusing on proper technique and using the power of your arms to push yourself through the water. But there’s more to swimming than just getting a good arm stroke: you can use the power of your kick to move through the water faster, too. To do this, practice your two-beat kick by kicking twice per arm movement. This will help your legs get used to the rhythm of the stroke, and eventually you can add in four-beat and six-beat kicks to get a little extra speed.
Another way to improve your swimming is to focus on the early vertical forearm, which is the part of the arm that pulls water back during a stroke. This can help you increase your speed by reducing drag, which is caused when the arm enters and exits the water at the same time. For this, keep your elbow high throughout the whole arm stroke, and don’t let it pass your nose—this will reduce your force and increase efficiency.
It’s also important to have a good body position, which is something that can take a while to learn. For example, most people tend to lift their head too high, which can negatively impact their speed and require a lot of energy to maintain. The best thing to do is to work on keeping your head perpendicular to the water line, looking straight down at the bottom of the pool. This will allow you to swim at a faster pace and conserve your energy, which can lead to a better overall swim.
You’ll also want to spend some time practicing your crawl, which is a great exercise for beginners and experts alike. Start by floating on your stomach and moving your arms in a half circle in front of your body, like you’re frog swimming. This works the triceps brachii and latissimus dorsi muscles, as well as your core and upper back. It’s also a good workout for your hips, as you’ll need to rotate your entire body to keep yourself upright and moving forward in the water.
Lastly, be sure to practice swimming in an environment with lots of other swimmers, as this will give you a feel for how to navigate the lane and avoid getting swum into or kicked by other swimmers. You can also try swimming three to a lane instead of just yourself, which will help you practice maintaining your form while working up a sweat.