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Swimming Balance

Swimming Balance

One of the more difficult aspects of swimming for adults is balance.  Maintaining the most streamline position in the water and propelling yourself forward presents a series of problems, especially for adults.

Three of the Five Keys to Swimming involve balance – streamline body position, horizontal body position and hip roll.  Learning to maintain a streamline and horizontal body position is the first step to improving your swimming efficiency and speed.

Balance involves two axis – longitudinal and lateral movement.  The “ideal” position is to be on flat top of the water with your spine in a “neutral” position – eyes focused straight down, back of your head just at the surface, shoulders and upper back out of the water, your butt out of the water (that’s why Speedo puts their name on the seat of all of their bathing suits!) and your heels out of the water.  Your body should be in a straight line – head to toes. 

The lateral axes comes into play while swimming – using your hips to add power to your stroke and adding streamline by keeping your body straight.

The drills to do are alphabet drills, one arm swimming and no arm swimming.

Alphabet drills

Place a kick board against your torso – top just below your arm pits and bottom at your waist.  Lie prone in the water and form the letter “X” – legs apart and arms extended above and to the sides.  Gently exhale as you float in the “X” position.  Second, form the letter “Y” – legs together and arms extended above and to the sides.  Again, gently exhale as you float in the “Y” position.  Finally, for the letter “I” – legs together and arms together directly above your head (the back of your head should be in line with the back of your arms).  Again, gently exhale as you float in the “I” position.  The goal is to learn to feel your balance “I” position.

With all three letters – “X” “Y” and “I” – focus on your balance – both longitudinal and lateral.  Keep movement to a minimum.  “Memorize” the position you can establish while doing the “I” drill.  This is where you want to be when swimming.  Use both kinesthetic and visual cues to maintain this balanced position.

One Arm Swimming

Start using the side that is easiest for you to breath on – most people have a “favorite” breathing side.  Push off the wall in the “I” balance position and glide.  Begin stoking with one arm and keep the opposite arm extended in the “I” balance position.  Use a gentle kick.  Your stoke should be slow and with a pause as your extend your stroking arm forward – imagine a “phantom” stroke with the opposite arm.  Breath on each stroke.  It is very important to use a slow stoke so that your breathing is “normal” and you do not hyperventilate. 

Alternate arms either every lap or every length.  The non-favorite breathing side will be more difficult, so you may want to get the drill down on your “favorite” side before attempting it on the opposite side.  The goal is to maintain the balance “I” position as you stroke.

No Arm Swimming

Start in the “I” balance position, but one arm is at your side (the other is extended above your head).  Using a gentle kick (fins will help) rotate your hips and torso to breath.  Keep the breathing rhythm the same as in the One Arm Swimming drill – nice and slow.  The goal is to begin the rotation with your hip and keep your torso straight.  Do not let your hips rotate separately from your shoulders.  You are just rotating the balance “I” on to it’s side. 

Alternate sides either every lap of every length.  Again, the non-favorite breathing side will be more difficult, so you may want to get the drill down on your “favorite” side before attempting it on the opposite side. 

Contact Coach@SLB-Coaching.com or Coach@AGTri-Institute.org for Triathlon Swim coaching: Tri Stroke Clinic or Private Swim Coaching.  All offered at Asphalt Green.


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Neil L. Cook, 212-472-9281 or 917-575-1901 or Coach@SLB-Coaching.com or Neil.L.Cook@mindspring.com
"Sweet Lightning Bolt" used by permission.