Tag Archives: freestyle swimming

Workout Wednesday – 5 Tips for Better Open Water Swimming in the Pool

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (HAHA)

Today’s Workout – Open Water Swim – Pool Style

Pool Lanes

The number one fear for new triathletes is the open water swim. The thought of jumping in that dark water with arms and legs churning everywhere, causes some serious anxiety.

I have good news and bad news about open water training. The bad news, to get good in open water, you need to practice in open water. You may not have access to open water, or you may be too intimidated right now. Here’s the good news, you can work on some skills in the pool that will translate to open water.

Here’s 5 tips to improve your open water swimming in the pool:

Continue reading Workout Wednesday – 5 Tips for Better Open Water Swimming in the Pool

No More Controlled Drowning – Intro to Swimming Part II

In Part I, we discussed Body Position and Breathing. Those two skills are very important, but don’t get you anywhere. You need oars to get the boat moving. Your stroke is your oars, and that is what we will cover in this post.

This post in not meant to be the definitive post on stroke technique. The goal here is to master the fundamentals and set a good base for refinement as your swimming progresses. A perfect freestyle stroke, if there is really such a thing, takes years to develop. With a good fundamental stroke you will be able to cover longer distances with better efficiency.

The freestyle stroke can be broken down into four parts:

  • Entry
  • Catch
  • Pull
  • Recovery

Continue reading No More Controlled Drowning – Intro to Swimming Part II

No More Controlled Drowning – Intro to Swimming Part I

Do you get winded swimming one length of the pool? Do you legs feel like they are always sinking? Or do you just flail your arms and legs and hope you get somewhere?  I call this controlled drowning, and that is how I swam my first race. It was a long and difficult swim, and made me quickly realize, I better work on my form.

Learning to swim correctly is the number one reason I hear from people why they can’t race a triathlon. To be honest, unless you learned to swim as a child, learning to swim as an adult is challenging. The best way to learn as an adult is to break down swimming into fundamental skills that can be combined into an effective stroke.

The first two fundamentals of swimming are Body Position and Breathing. These are the first two skills to develop efficient swimming.

Body Position

The most effective way to move through the water in freestyle swimming is to keep your body streamlined. Your body should be extended, just below the surface of the water. Try to keep your legs up and together. Think of your body as a see-saw, with your hips as the pivot point. Your legs are usually more dense than your torso and will want to sink. Your job is the press down and forward with your chest to keep your legs up.

Here’s a great demonstration of balance from Total Immersion. Notice in the beginning of the video the difference in body positions. Next the clip show some drills for practicing good body position. The superman glide drill shown is very effective to imprint good balance. I do this drill before every swim session.

In this video from Speedo UK, you can see some nice graphics that explain proper body position.

Good Body Position = Neutral head position + Streamlined body + Legs up

Drills – Superman Glide, One arm Glide


Swim Breathing – Intro

Breathing in freestyle swimming can be challenging to learn. Once you to get the hang of it, like riding a bike, you will not forget how. The issue most new swimmers have with breathing is holding their breath. If you are holding your breath, or breathing shallow, you can’t swim long distances. Try and take a breath every ten seconds while running, and your heart rate will spike quickly. It’s the same when you are swimming. When you start to breath correctly ability to swim more distance will increase dramatically.

Proper breathing in the freestyle stroke involves two things. First, when your face is in the water breath out completely. You can breath out from your either nose or your mouth, your preference. Be sure to breath out the entire time your face is in the water. This keeps water from entering your breathing, makes sure you are breathing deep enough.

Second, rotate your body and take a breath. While the arm of the side you are breathing on is out of the water, rotate your body and take a breath. You want a quick bite of air, and go back to breathing out. Ideally you should only have one goggle out of the water when you breath. If you are looking up when you breath, you are over rotating. A good cue to remember is to act like you are laying on your side with your arm stretched out like a pillow.

Below is a video from Bob Bowmen, Micheal Phelp’s coach on swimming breathing. He gives some great insights into proper freestyle breathing.

In this video from USMS, they do a great job explaining common mistakes in freestyle breathing:


Good Freestyle Breathing = Breath out face in the water + Rotate your body to breath.

In Part II, we will go over the stroke and catch. Now get to the pool and practice that good position.