How to Swim Fast

​Reducing Swim Resistance: The First Path to Swimming Fast

​There are six paths to swimming fast. The first path and the most important is reducing resistance in the water. This article will give you three techniques on ways that you can reduce your drag in the water.

​Now, I'm not talking about shaving the hair on your body. That's a very very small reduction of drag.

The reason that you want to reduce the drag on your body is that the faster you go, the more resistance you create. And the resistance increases four times as you double your speed. So you better get your body streamlined in the water.

The way that we have to reduce the water's resistance is to shape our body. How we position our body in the water is the best way to do it. There are others.

Besides shaving we could...

  • Go to a medievel torture rack and stretch us out
  • Find some spray that reduces surface tension on our skin
  • Have an operation to shape our heads like a torpedo.

​Those aren't really very practical. Neither is buying a $500 technical suit either. The best way is to adjust the shape of your body. Here's how to do it...

​Swim Tip #1 to Reduce Resistance

​The first way is to adjust your head position. Most of us swim by looking forward. This does a few bad things to our shape in the water.

First, it lowers your legs and hips. This creates a ton of resistance going forward in the water. Instead of being parallel to the direction you want to go, you are now closer to to perpendicular.

Try this next time you're driving. Put your hand out the window of the car. Put your hand parallel with the ground and feel how your hand cuts through the air.

Now, turn your hand so your thumb is up and your hair is perpendicular to the ground. Can you feel the air hit your palm and try to rip your arm backward like a big bear?

That's what happens when you lift your head up.

Also, the top of your head is more streamlined than your face. By lifting your head and looking forward, the flat part of your face cuts through the water.

​When you keep your head down, looking towards the bottom of the pool, the round top part of your head cuts through the water like a torpedo (see, you don't need an expensive, weird operation).

There's one added benefit for swimmers that is rarely mentioned. Looking forward when you swim causes you to extend your neck which causes head, neck and back pain. For you high school swimmers this isn't such a big deal but for master swimmers it is. Many start swimming because it's one exercise which is supposed to be easy on your body. But looking forward  can create worse conditions for your neck and back.

Bottom line: Look at the bottom of the pool to swim fast.

​Swim Tip #2 to Swim Fast

​The second technique is lengthen the body. We do this by leaving an arm extended in front of the body. This does a couple of good things for reducing swim resistance:

  • All things being equal, a longer body is faster than a shorter body. An 18 foot kayak is going to be faster than a 12 foot kayak. The extended arm has the effect of making your body longer, if even for only a second or two.
  • The extended arm and hand cuts through the water like a knife. The other option is to have the forearm and triceps hit the water first. Try the car experiment again. This time, point your hand to where you're going. Feel the hand cut through the air like a jet. Now, lower your arm and point your arm to the bottom of the street. Don't go too fast because this time, it really might rip your arm off.

​When you finish your pull with one arm, leave the opposite arm extended out in front of your shoulder for a bit. I teach that the lead arm stays out until the recovery arm comes past your head. This allows you to get the maximum benefit of the longer body.

​Swim Tip #3 to Swim Fast

​The third tip is similar to the second and it has to do with the lead arm. The arm needs to form a straight line with the side of the body. Swimmers tend to put the arm in front of the face, instead of the shoulder.

This does two things bad. First, instead of having the tip of the fingers cut the water first, it has the forearm cut the water. No need to do the car test (feel free if you want) but trust me. It creates a lot of drag and resistance.

The second negative is it tends to throw the body out of alignment. Instead of having the body be nice and streamlined it becomes wiggly and squiggly. This causes a ton of other problems with swimming fast as well. Instead, the lead arm should form a straight line along the side of body and shoulder. T

Try this; Place yourself against a wall opposite a mirror. Place your arm and side of your body against the wall. Notice how you have a straight line from toes to the finger tips. Now, move your arm away from the wall and place it above your head. You have to bend your elbow and you'll probably shift so that your body bends.

You Can Be As Fast as An Olympian

image of swimmer diving into a lake

As fast as an Olympic Swimmer?

​Everyone can swim like an Olympic swimmer for a few seconds. ​

​Not everyone can be an Olympic swimmer. Most aren't going to be able to swim on a​ Division 1 swimming College rankingsteam (though everyone can swim at the Junior College level. And I highly recommend you consider it if you're in high school.)

The cool part is there is one part of every race where you can move though the water as fast as anyone. And that's pretty cool.

What part is it you ask? Can you guess?

It's the dive. Assuming you have one thing...

A great streamline! A good streamline won't do it. You need a great, perfect, locked in streamline.

When you push off the blocks your body is moving downward with pretty much the same velocity as an Olympic swimmer. Actually, the higher you go, the faster you will be moving. They probably have more forward velocity than you do, but the speed when you hit the water is remarkably the same.

The big difference is when you hit the water. A good swimmer has a tight streamline. They hit the water like a needle. They keep that speed going for as long as possible.

You probably hit the water like a hammer with your hands. And then when the rest of your body enters its like a water balloon being dropped off a high dive..."SPLASH!"

And pushing off the wall is just as bad. Pushing off the wall after a turn is a opportunity to get a lot of speed and then keep that speed as long as possible. Even without a great kick or stroke, your push-off could be very very fast. But it won't be if you don't practice the streamline.

Most swimmers don't work on the streamline. But it's something that needs to be worked on every single day. You should work on it daily at home and during practice. Every chance you get to push-off the wall you should work on that streamline.

When you're brushing your teeth in the morning and evening look in the mirror and check out your streamline. Stand with the sun behind you and observe your streamline in the shadow. Look for sunlight coming from between your shoulders and ears.

​The next post will go into details on how to perform a streamline and give you more tips.

What is the purpose of high school swimming and why you need to know

​High School Swimming is more than just showing up to practice and going to a few meets.

​Why do you want to compete in high school swimming? Here are the reasons that most swimmers give...

  • ​It's fun
  • My friends do it and I want to hang out with them
  • I want to get in shape
  • I want to get out of PE
  • Looking for a full ride to college

​Those reasons are fine but there is so much more you can get out of swimming in high school. High school swimming is a great sport for many reasons.

  • ​It's a no-cut sport. For most schools you don't have to already have been a great swimmer. Most swim teams can take 18 athletes and usually, they won't that many. This gives you an opportunity to compete on a sports team that you might no be able to do if it was basketball or volleyball.
  • Swimming is a sport that you can do throughout your life. You can do it recreationally, competitively and leisurely.
  • ​From swimming there are tons of other activities which you can do; water polo, ​snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and even scuba diving.
  • The discipline of swimming will help you in school, college and life. You will be able to carry the focus, grit and determination of swimming into all aspects of your life. You learn about setting goals and how to accomplish them.

​But if you go out for the swim team, you should know what the big picture is. You should have some idea of how to swim physically; you should also know about the finer details and what I think are the most important ones about the sport.

​Here are my top five purposes for going out for your high school swim team:

​Swimming in High School Purpose #1

​Learn the very valuable skill of goal setting. Goal setting for swimmers is not just saying, "I want to get faster." Goal setting is about making S.M.A.R.T. g0als (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely). They are about learning how to set rewards and sacrifices to accomplish those goals.

Swimming in High School Purpose #2

​Swimming is a sport where the last meet of the season is the Superbowl. You work hard for the season and then at the end you race in the championship meet. All season long you focus on this one meet and probably only a few events. It's an all or nothing meet. You swim fast or you can be heartbroken that you didn't swim fast. It's a harsh reality but that's what makes it a great sport.

​Swimming in High School Purpose #3

​All sports require a great deal of work, time and self-discipline. It's not easy to go to practice in the rain, when you have a test on the next day, or when you're tired from staying up late. Swimming is particularly difficult because much if it is individual.

The ability to focus and sacrifice is why many swimmers go on to excel in college and in business.

​Swimming in High School Purpose #4

​The physical, tactical and social aspects of swimming help your body grow and develop. Being an athlete is good not just for your body but for your brain as well. When your body works out and learns, so does your brain.

​Swimming in High School Purpose #5

​It's fun! Sometimes you just gotta have fun. It's fun to learn, improve and compete. Whatever level of swimmer you are from beginner to State qualifier, being on the swim team is fun.


​There's a lot of reasons to swim in high school. You should know what your purpose of swimming is so that you can get the most out of it.

​Knowing your purpose will help you be determined and get the most out of the swim team that you possibly can. Swim fast and work hard!