One of the most inaccurate things about swimming fast is that you need to be big, tall, and strong. Being a swim coach, I constantly hear from swimmers of all ages saying you NEED these physical traits to be a fast swimmer.  “That swimmer is so much taller than me, I could never beat them, it’s not fair that I have to race them.” Or, “Look how strong he is, he can swim so fast because he has bigger muscles.” That simply is not true.  

Fast Competitive Swimming

There are countless ways for you to improve your strokes that translates into speed, that doesn’t include what type of body you have. All the tips below will help in every swimming stroke.  The below topics will help you take your swimming to the next level whether I hope by reading this article and watching other swimmers it gives you tips on how to swim faster disregarding your body type. 

1. Strong Core Muscles

This most important tip goes hand in hand with all the points below on how to swim faster. Having core strength for the sport of swimming is impeccable in order to minimize drag or resistance through the water. The core strength plays a major role in keeping the body stable, buoyant and streamline. In order for the body to support great technique, the core needs to be able to simultaneously sustain the propulsive force that is coming from the arms and legs.

Unlike land sports, swimmers must generate their own power without using the ground. As a result of this difference, it is imperative swimmers have strong torsos. If core muscles are not well conditioned this can lead to flaws and inefficiencies in the stroke. 

Exercises for strengthening your Core: Streamline Flutter Kicks, Side Planks, and Russian Twist add a medicine ball for a bonus!

Man Doing Yoga
Side planking to Improve Core Strength

When it comes down to it increasing core strength will increase stroke efficiency, which ultimately improve your speed in the water. 

2. Body Position

The importance of body position in the water is crucial and sets you up not only to swim faster but makes swimming much easier. When doing any stroke, you want to think about being in neutral body position. This means the body is parallel to the top of the water whether that is on your back or stomach. While in this position your head will be still and it’s important to keep your hips up.

A way to make sure you are maintaining a good body position is to check to make sure there is a ring of water around your face this should be outlining your chin and your eyebrows. This will help you achieve the most efficient body position to gain more power in your stroke and ensure you are getting faster in the water. 

Drills- Practicing 25’s alternating slow kicking on your back then your stomach to make sure you feel the right position you should be in.  

Underwater Photography of Swimmer
This is neutral body position on the swimmers back. You can tell the hips are on top of the water and the head is still.

3. Kicking

One thing that swimmers think they need to swim faster would be kicking hard or fast. You need to kick effectively and efficiently. Without an efficient kick, your stroke will fall apart. Not only is it crucial for propulsion but also for the body position which includes balance and rotation within the water. One thing to keep in mind when kicking while you are swimming is to keep a shallow kick.  This means pointing your toes like a ballerina and letting them break the surface of the water. If you kick too deep underneath the water your feet will create drag which will cause you to swim slower. To check this, you can make sure you are in neutral body position with your hips on top of the water. If your hips are still on top of the water, you have good depth of your kick which allows you to swim faster and efficiently. 

Another tip to help you kick constituently is making sure you have straighten knees. One thing I always tell my swimmers is when you are in neutral body position you should think about laying flat on the ground. This helps you eliminate “bicycle” kicking. Bicycle kicking involves your knees, which is slow swimming. This could be one of the reasons you are not swimming faster. To eliminate this, you need to think about pointing your toes and using the big muscles on your body, which are your quadriceps and gluteal muscles. 

Taking these two tips will help you continuously kick for longer, more efficiently and ultimately swim faster. 

This is a video of a swimmer that really uses their body position and strong kick to propel themselves forward.

Swimming Drill to help – Kick with a kick board, thinking about pointing your toes and straight leg kicking while using your quads and glute muscles. 

4. Distance Per Stroke – Rotation & Length

The last tip to help you swim faster involves length and rotation. This is also called distance per stroke. Stroke length is how far your body travels forward on each arm stroke in combination of rotating your hips and core areas. 

If you are efficient with your distance per stroke you will swim faster and being traveling anywhere between .7 – 1.2 meters on each stroke. The longer stroke you take, the faster and farther you will go. 

A swimming drill to help your distance per stroke would be kicking on your side with your arm up. Rotating to each side every time you finish 25 yards. 

This is a video of a swimmer putting all 4 tips together into her swimming strokes. She is a is 14 years old girl that competes in competitive swimming in Buffalo. She has many ambitious goals like swimming in college and qualifying for nationals before she goes to swim in college.

  • Key- 25 yards of a swim pool is equal to 1 lap
  • 4 swim strokes are Butterfly, Backstroke, Breastroke and Freestyle