Common Swimming Mistakes and How to Fix Them
The number one complaint among beginner swimmers is fatigue. They get tired quickly, feel drained of energy and miss on every single milestone, even the easy ones. Leaving aside an inadequate diet, or insufficient strength training to improve endurance, the main cause of fatigue can be found in the way people swim.
Swimming is an art and it needs to be mastered properly if you want to succeed, either as an aspiring professional, or simply as a person who wants to enjoy as much time in the pool or the ocean as possible. The first thing you need to do is find out the swimming style or styles you are most comfortable with. The next step is to learn the correct technique of swimming.
There are various common mistakes made by swimmers and today we will discuss those with the greatest negative impact on your performance. Also, we will explain what to do in order to stop making them. Are you ready? Then let’s start!
- Not Synchronising Your Breathing Properly
Gasping for air every now and then will surely impact your endurance while swimming. It is crucial to have a constant flow of oxygen to your muscle cells in order to sustain the effort. Professional swimmers can switch to “swimming mode of breathing” without any effort, because they have developed a reflex for it.
For the beginners, the best way to train yourself to breathe in and out properly is to start practicing out of the pool. Take a deep breath through your mouth and expel it slowly through your nose while humming. Why humming? This will create a sort of inner rhythm, like music in the aerobics class and will teach you how to pace your breathing and synchronise it with your arm movements.
- Swimming Too Flat
Yes, the purpose of swimming is to keep as much of your body inside the water to lighten your perceived weight and move more freely. However, your body must not be perfectly parallel to the bottom of the pool. In this manner of swimming, your arms take the brunt of all the effort to push your whole body through the water – and no wonder that you get fatigued quickly.
In swimming, your whole body must be active and move in a smooth way, gliding effortlessly through the water. The proper body position is in harmony with the movements of your arms. If you lift your left arm your body should tilt to the left, as well, and vice-versa. Your torso and hip muscles need to be involved in the effort, thus it is evenly distributed across your body and you will not get fatigued so quickly.
- The Quick Stroke
Your hand has barely entered the water, and you take it out again for a new stroke. In many swimmers’ opinion, more strokes per minute equals faster speed. This is wrong: speed in swimming is gained by the proportion of time your hands and arms spend IN the water. The higher the ‘in water’ proportion as opposed to ‘out of water’, the more speed you gain.
Once again, we have to remind you that once you are in the water, your perceived body weight becomes lower, because water pushes against your body, supporting it (this law of physics was discovered thousands of years ago by a Greek named Archimedes – you must have studied his law in school). Therefore, a long stroke, where your hand cuts through water will pull you further ahead than a series of short strokes.
- Keeping Your Head Too High
Everyone’s natural instinct is to look ahead while walking and swimming as well. However, if you keep your head too high above the water, you are straining your neck and upper back muscles and you will develop either a muscle cramp or fatigue.
It is difficult to fight against nature and instincts, but there are no obstacles to be aware of in water. Unless you swim in a crowded pool or ocean (and those are certainly not the proper places for training), you do not need to look ahead all the time. Trust us, you will notice the end of the pool by keeping your head in a natural position. If you need some point of reference to keep you eyes busy, follow the pattern at the bottom of the pool.
- Toes Pointing
Many swimmers believe that keeping their toes perfectly flat and aligned will improve their aerodynamics and they will glide faster. Thus, they point their toes and keep them like this. In turn, this causes the muscles in the ankle to stay tense and rigid. This is not how proper swimming is done.
Ankles and toes need to be flexible and help you kick and gain momentum. A good synchronisation between arms and legs movement is the key to speed and endurance while swimming. Let your body move fluidly and naturally, and do not force any body part into a certain position and you will certainly notice an improvement in your swimming style.