Swimfit Training Camp: Simplify your front crawl
It’s the fastest and most popular stroke, swam over seven different distances at the Olympic Games and the staple stroke of non-competitive swimmers across the globe.
But while you might secretly - or not-so-secretly - think you're the speed merchant of your local pool, are there ways you can improve your efficiency? Do you really maintain your form for the full 30 minutes or do you begin to tire after 250m?
We tracked down British Gas ITC Loughborough senior coach Kevin Renshaw - who guided Jo Jackson and David Davies to freestyle medals at the 2009 World Championships and 2008 Olympic Games respectively - to find out his top five tips for improving your crawl.
- Keep your head as still as possible when you’re swimming front crawl. A still head will help you drive directly forward in a straight line and reduce drag.
- You will need to move position to breathe but keep a smooth neck and your head aligned with the rest of your spine. You do not need to lift your head completely out of the water – just rotate with your shoulders enough to inhale.
- Staying as streamlined as possible is important for increasing your efficiency.
- You will never be completely parallel to the bottom of the pool but if you remember to keep your head low and your hips high, you will avoid dropping your legs.
- Keep a regular kick going throughout. Leaving your legs trailing behind you will increase drag and remember the front crawl basics – pointed toes with flexible ankles and kick from the hip, not the knee.
- You don’t need to kick particularly hard – there is relatively little propulsion from the leg kick compared to the arms – but try to kick regularly throughout to maintain your balance and rhythm.
- Concentrate on your hand entry into the water – it should be fingers then wrist then elbow.
- This order of entry will help you hold the water better when it comes to the catch and pull phases.
- Front crawl doesn’t have to be a splash and dash stroke to the wall – swim longer and use your energy more efficiently by using a long and smooth rhythm.
- Think about trying to increase the length of your stroke rather than your stroke rate.