Isn’t that what every swimmer wants? Of course it is. However, if you want to swim faster with less effort, you should not start working on your stroke technique or stroke efficiency first. No, you should start with working on your body positioning in the water first. Also known as ’streamlining’.
A streamline is where your arms are stretched out above your head, arms pressed tight against your ears, and hands on top of each other. Your toes are pointed and your core in engaged to keep your back straight. Visualise yourself as an arrow. This position (or very similar) comes back in every stroke and after every push off the wall. Streamlining has four important purposes:
1. Speedy Push-Offs
By streamlining after every push off, you significantly reduce your drag in the water. You can glide off the wall in streamline for a few seconds before starting to swim. This will help you carry your speed from your push off into your swimming. Since you reduce your resistance, you will be able to optimise your push off the wall.
2. Efficient swimming
Streamlining is applied in every stroke. In the freestyle it happens right after your hand entry. You are in a half streamline, with one arm in front and the other arm back. Keep your kick in line so your legs do not cause more drag. The same applies to backstroke, but as opposed to freestyle, you are on your back. In breaststroke and butterfly you hit your streamline every time your hands move to the front. It's therefore critical that you nail your streamline, since its applied so often.
3. Saving energy
If you focus on your streamline while swimming, you will notice that with less effort, you will swim faster. Try it yourself. After every push off the wall, hold your streamline for 2-3 seconds and then start swimming. You will need less strokes for each lap, which means it will cost you less energy. The tighter the streamline, the better.
4. Increasing flexibility
To be physically able to streamline, you need some flexibility in your shoulders. This is something you can work on, so no need to worry if it feels uncomfortable at first. Focus on streamlining after each push off, and make it a good one. This will eventually increase your flexibility in your shoulders. This flexibility will not only help you with your streamlining, but with your overall swimming. For all strokes, shoulder flexility is key.
Let's say you swim 1 kilometer in a 25m pool, that are 40 push offs. That means you have 40 chances to streamline. Which results in reducing your frontal drag and working on your flexibility 40 times. Do this for every practice, and you will definitely notice a difference.
Challenge yourself - see how far you can get with one push off and a tight streamline. Streamlining will make you a stronger and faster swimmer in the end. We go into streamlining depth with our Body Position Course, so if you feel the need for some extra guidance you can give that a try.