Swimming efficiency is probably something you may not have heard of or maybe you call it some other thing. It is essentially how effective the output translates into motion. In the case of the freestyle for example it is how your kicks and your arms help you move in the water; but it there is more to just that (see our previous post on Freestyle Drills).
Factors That We Need To Note
- Body Position: Yes flat and keeping as parallel to the surface of the water is always ideal as it reduces drag.
- Head Position: Yes the head matters more than you think; the skill of looking straight down to the bottom of the pool greatly improves the body position.
- The Core: Having a strong core enables the ability to hold the position for longer.
- Kick: Your legs will almost always out class your arms considering that we use them for walking since we learnt how to walk. A good kick or leg technique is critical how well you propel yourself in the water.
- Arms: Timing is almost everything in this component apart from the obvious technique being used.
- Coordination & Breathing: All of the above needs to come together in order to allow the swimmer to breathe efficiently during the stroke.
How Can I Track Efficiency?
Time / Stroke Count / Heart-rate
Time: A stopwatch on your phone / wristwatch (Yes, these are still around). Time yourself over a set distance and keep track of the timings for each lap. Reducing the timing effectively translates to better efficiency.
Stroke Count: This is a great way to understand how much effort are you investing into the stroke. And reducing stroke counts helps in forcing more complete usage of the factors mentioned above.
Heart-rate: For the lucky few with a means to track their heart-rate on the go. This is also another method to understand just how much energy you are investing. And as you observe lower rates you also understand your body in its ability to push a little harder.
For all the above 3 lower is always better in indicating a better swimming efficiency. Yet we do need to take proper notes / training logs to properly understand how we improve over time. That being said you also need to be aware of your body, physical status, health status and mental status; before going into swimming efficiency building.
What Other Ways Are There To Improve?
- Underwater Swim: At the kick-off or turn there is a great opportunity to push the underwater swim to its maximum use.
- Glide: Certain strokes allows a short period of gliding, this is the opportunity where a great body position will enhance this skill.
- Video: Get someone to video you as you do your stroke and review it for yourself to identify the possible areas of improvements.
- Training / Coaching / Squad: Having a close eye to watch and correct in a private setting or in a group is always great.