Now that Liberty SAFRA Swim For Hope 2021 is live (register here!), you might want to work on your swimming form.
It never hurts to learn how to glide through the water better and faster to get the most out of your aquatic activities at the pool.
Try these simple steps to improve on your swim strokes (with some more applicable to the common freestyle technique) and bring out that Atlantean hero in you.
1. Float, just float
Sometimes, it’s all about the basics – especially for the newbies. Simply practising floating with your body parallel to the water and your head down can help you get accustomed to having your body constantly submerged and to feel at ease with the water (it could be a great psychological help).
2. Keep your head down
Another simple tip (especially for freestyle swimming) that even intermediate swimmers might either forget or ignore. Keep your head in line with your body and look down directly towards the bottom of the pool.
Maintain this neutral head position; if you lift your head at an angle, your body will tip and your legs and hips will sink, resulting in you kicking harder to keep your legs up, getting out of breath and getting tired faster.
Also, don’t keep looking forward as it can strain your neck over time.
3. Don’t hold your breath all the time
It’s a mistake that we might have picked up that we have to unlearn: Holding our breath needlessly.
While it’s fine to hold in a deep breath with our faces in the water when we were first figuring out how to float, it’s not so beneficial when you are actually swimming competitively – you are just depriving your muscles of oxygen.
Instead, take a deep breath through your mouth and then slowly exhale through your nose. A pro tip is to hum while you breathe out of your nose, so that you don’t rush it.
First, practise this action on land, then do it while in the pool; take a deep breath, place your face in the water, exhale through your nose slowly, then lift face out of water to take another breath.
Breathe and repeat until you are used to it or settle into a comfortable rhythm.
4. Face out, not head out
So, for simple freestyle swimming, if one follows the aforementioned tips, how then, does one breathe at all without popping your head out of the water?
Keep your head in it, while lifting your face out of it. Work on keeping your head down and your chin tucked into your neck.
When you have to breathe, roll a little to the side where that one arm is leaving the water and rotate your head a bit further so that your mouth is clear enough to take in air.
Just imagine letting the side of your head rest on the water’s surface, with one eye above and the other below it. Might take time, lots of practice and some accidental gulps of pool water before you perfect this.
5. Always exhale in the water
How to maximise your breathing while freestyling it? Exhale continuously when your face is in the water so that you empty your lungs as much as possible before you turn your head to the side to inhale.
6. Don’t point your toes
Not because it’s rude, nor because you’re not doing ballet in the pool, but because doing so will hamper your speed and direction.
Fully flexing them straight will tighten up your ankles, so don’t. Just let your ankles be loose and flexible so that your feet can act easily as your flippers.
7. Don’t be a drag, just be lean
Fictional drag: it’s surface drag that’s caused when fluid passes over rough surfaces. In practical simple-speak, that means basically anything you have on you that could cause resistance or friction and slow you down when you’re swimming.
Which means you should:
a) Wear right-sized and fitting swimwear that may be a little tighter than you are used to (wear and tear through swimming will loosen it). If it’s made of some sleek, stretchy, durable or techy material, all the better.
b) Use a swim cap so that your luscious locks won’t weigh you down
c) Take off all your accessories, such as necklaces, rings and watches, before diving in. You may look less fab, but you will be faster. Plus, you don’t want to be losing and leaving your precious personal “debris” behind in your wake.
d) If you are serious about speeding up, shave or wax off your body hair. Less hair, smoother body, more speed.
8. Swim in conducive surroundings at SAFRA clubhouses
Now, where to go, to start clocking laps for Liberty SAFRA Swim For Hope 2021? Why, SAFRA clubhouses of course!
You’ll get the usual privileges from being a SAFRA member in the gorgeous swimming pools at SAFRA Jurong, Mount Faber, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Yishun.