Do you ever see those swimmers in the pool who seem to go so far and fast but seem like they aren’t trying very hard? What’s up with that? How is it that they seem to be swimming slow but they are moving through the water like fish?
It’s because they are. They are allowing their entire body—from the arms and shoulders through the torso to the hips and legs—to join the fun. Many people swim with just their shoulders and arms and hope they can drag the rest of their body along without sinking first.
Rotation and glide is critical to a more efficient and effective stroke. In my experience teaching swimming, I find that the two biggest impediments to a well timed rotation and supported glide is awkwardness in the breathing and trying to balance with the recovery arm.
Breathing should always be calm and controlled, even in sprints! Inhale through the mouth and exhale though the nose. Take time to exhale completely before taking another breath. The amount of time you are inhaling should always be shorter than the time you are exhaling. (Click here to find out why.) You should be rotating your head easily and looking slightly behind you on the inhale. Wait for your elbow to extend past your head before returning your head back into the water. Start exhaling immediately and smoothly through your nose. This process should become very rhythmic whether breathing every second, third or fourth stroke.
The rotation should be full and done with your hips and torso, not the shoulders. Balance will come from your core. Your recovery (the hand that is traveling out of the water) should be just that, a recovery. It should be relaxed, free of tension, and placed into the water rather than thrown in. Practice leading you arm with the elbow and dragging your finger nails through the water during the recovery. If you can sustain that, you will be well on your way to becoming one of those swimmers who make it all look so effortless!