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The TBN #47-The Downhill Trick, a Simple Way to Swim Faster

Updated: Apr 8

Read time: 2min.

By Coach Yan Busset

To swim faster, think "swim downhill!"

The key to your swim speed lies in your position in the water. Water is about 800 times more dense than air, so maintaining a horizontal, hydrodynamic streamline position is crucial for your pace. One way to improve your position in the water is to compare swimming uphill versus swimming downhill. And like for cycling, you can probably guess which one will be the easiest and fastest way ;)

What are the signs of a poor position in the water?

1-Your head sticks out, raising up when you breathe: Head raising can be caused by sinking legs but also by incorrect breathing technique or timing. If you breathe too late or for too long, you might feel the need to lift your head.

2-your legs are sinking: Sinking legs may result from a lack of ankle mobility or incorrect leg kick technique. This issue may also be cause from pressing downwards at the front catch toward the bottom of the pool, rather than pushing parallel to the surface towards your feet.

3- Your forearm and elbow enter the water first, creating extra drag: Splashing water during hand entry and the forearm or elbow contacting the water before the hand are additional indicators of an "uphill" position. It’s challenging to keep the elbow higher than the hand if your body leans back instead of remaining horizontal.

This results in the swimmer ending up in a "swimming uphill" position, like crawling up a mountain trail.

To correct this and achieve a more horizontal position, improving your breathing technique and leg kicks is crucial. 

Additionally, I'll describe here a method to significantly enhance your balance in the water. 

You need to shift to a "Downhill swimming position"!

Here are 4 steps steps to achieve it:

1. Ensure that with each stroke, you extend your arm in front of you to the maximum of your ability. This 

adjustment will shift your center of mass and buoyancy center, allowing you to organically lift your legs.

2. Keep your head down; don't lift your head while breathing but simply turn it. Tuck and look at your shoulder rather than up at the ceiling.

3. Press your chest down while using your core to lift your hips. It's like pushing down on one end of a seesaw to raise the other end.

4. Make sure your feet touch the surface on each kick, if necessary bend more your knees, to lift them up. Too straight leg kicks tend to have your leg sinking.

By shifting your mindset and technique to aim to swim downhill rather than uphill, you'll be surfing the wave in front of you instead of creating it!

Please try this technique in your next sessions and send me comments or DMs to let me know how it went.

Thank you for reading, and happy downhill swimming!


Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

2. If you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here

3. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.


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