The core principles of swimming are pulling and kicking. Energy waste is the biggest problem for most swimmers, and can be solved by working harder. Conventional speed training calls for stroking faster, training more, and working through pain; however, it may not be the ideal training plan.
Katie Ledecky’s technique is an excellent example of stroke efficiency: she takes fewer, but extremely consistent and longer, strokes, contrary to conventional speed training.
If you want to swim like Katie, follow these rules: minimize drag by extending your bodyline and allowing your legs to draft; slow your tempo to 25m repeats below the highest count in your range; and increase your strokes per length (SPL) consistency (while staying in your Green Zone) and stroke rate (maintain 16 SPL for 4 repeats – or, even better, for 8 repeats). And practice these skills!
- There are not any real shortcuts to getting better at swimming other than working hard at it.
- Once you learn to utilize your surroundings to make yourself go faster the only other thing you can do is build endurance.
- Count your strokes, more is not always better. Also kicking less is sometimes better.
“Drill down to the foundations of faster swimming; identify the critical skills; and patiently apply yourself to mastering them.”