Feel like watching the Olympic swimming has inspired you to take up the sport yourself? Freestyle is one of the most common swimming strokes used by competitive swimmers due to the fast speeds you can get up to, plus it’s relatively easy to learn how to do.
So whether you’re a budding lane swimmer, looking to do multisport this summer, or just wanting to polish up your skills for recreational swimming, we’ve got some great tips on how to improve your freestyle.
Why swimming’s good for you
Water provides resistance, it’s low impact, you use your entire body so you’re getting a great workout, plus as New Zealand is a small country surrounded by a lot of water, you’re practicing a valuable life skill.
Tip #1: Use all your body
Rather than over-using your arms to propel you forward or kicking too hard with your feet (both of these will cause you to tire out faster!), make sure you’re pacing everything at an even rhythm and effort to match up with your breathing. Pull your core in tight and count out your strokes at an even tempo in your head to keep them regulated if you need to. You’ll be picking up your speed in no time!
Tip #2: Stay streamlined and keep your head down!
A common freestyle mistake is lifting your head up while you’re swimming to see where you’re going. Your breathing should be out to the sides rather than forward, as craning your neck in this way may cause unnecessary strain and lead to neck cramping; not to mention it will slow you down which is no good when you’re racing for gold! If you’re swimming in a lane pool, there will usually be a line painted on the bottom to help keep you on track, so invest in a good watertight pair of goggles if you don’t like opening your eyes underwater.
Tip #3: Even out your breathing
Coming up for breath just on one side can mess with your rhythm and may cause you to get tired faster. Choose a breathing pattern that lets you breathe on both sides, such as going for a breath every third arm stroke. This way you’ll also be able to keep an eye on what’s going on either side of you, which can be useful if you’re competing against other swimmers or trying to stay in the centre of your pool lane!
Absolute beginner and no idea where to start? Head down to your local pool and ask them about lessons, it’s never too late to learn!
Image / Flickr – Jim Bahn