Swim like a pro in four easy steps
For many of us outdoor active beings, the end of the warm summer season and long-lit days can mark the start of a period of an unwelcome decline in exercise – but this doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re finding your workouts limited by the creeping cooler months, now could be the time to dig out that swim suit! Whether you’re just getting started with swimming or have been hitting the pool for years, these top tips from Olympic swimmer Chris Cook that will help you begin or perfect your front crawl strokes, so you can stay in shape and swim those lengths with confidence.
1 It’s all in the stretch
Successful swimming begins with good body form. ‘Make yourself as stretched out as possible,’ says Chris. This will keep you streamlined in the water so you can swim faster and more efficiently. Keep your body flat with a slight slope down, as this will allow your hips to keep the leg kick underneath the water.
2 Watch your head
To prevent frontal drag – which will slow you down – you want to keep your head in the water. This might prove tricky at first, but you will soon get the hang of it – and wear goggles if you want to shield your eyes from the water. ‘Look slightly ahead and down and keep one side of your face in the water as you turn to breathe,’ says Chris. ‘Try not to lift your head out of the water (unless for air) as your feet will drop the more you raise your head.’ An easy way to ensure a correct head position is to keep your neck in line with your spine.
3 Kick from the hips
Avoid kicking from the knees. This is a common mistake many swimmer s make – which only creates drag and leads to sinking legs. Stay afloat by keeping your legs straight and kicking from the hips. ‘Keep your legs close together and make small fast kicks, rather than large up and down movements,’ Chris says.
4 Perfect your pulling arm
Since the upper body is the main driving force behind what moves you in the water, it’s important you know how to move your arms correctly. ‘Reach out as far as you can with the pulling arm as it enters the water,’ advises Chris. ‘Pull back in an ‘S’ shape, so your arm comes back to your leg.’ Once you have mastered this technique, you’ll be well on your way to covering more lengths, with less effort!
Chris Cook is supporting the Aspire Channel Swim 2015, a charity event that takes place over a 12-week period, allowing swimmers to cover the 22 miles of the English Channel in their local pool, either individually or as part of a group. If you’re ready for a challenge, grab a towel, get involved and find out more at aspirechannelswim.co.uk.